The street lights fought a losing battle against the dawn as the twins clumped out of the house, tottering precariously on their new roller-blades. They clung to the fence, each reluctant to leave its security but anxious to be the first to break free and fly like a bird down the wide sloping pavement of the court.

Tina woke with a start. It seemed only minutes since she had gone to bed. There had been so much to do: the decorations, the tree, and, finally, placing the Christmas stockings at the foot of the boy’s beds without waking them. She had bittersweet memories of former years when many of these tasks would have fallen to their father.

She listened intently, and her fears were confirmed. They were out! She stumbled out of bed, dragging on a robe and peering round the curtain. The boys, confident now, were whizzing past the gate emitting subdued cries of triumph as they mastered their new skates. She relaxed a little when she saw that they were wearing the helmets and the foam guards on elbows and knees. Klaus is nothing if not thorough she thought. With a twinge of conscience, she wondered if she had done the right thing. Well, she rationalised, he is their father – and it is Christmas!

The presents had seemed so overwhelming when they arrived on Christmas eve. They were not wrapped; (he had always left the wrapping to her. “You are so much neater,” he would say). They were in a big carton, still in their shop wrapping. He had even left the price labels on; ostentation, or laziness? The skates and accessories had made up the bulk of the package but there were one or two odds and ends such as miniature toy cars and bottles of lollies.

Her own offerings had seemed inadequate in comparison, and if they had been halved to fill the two pillowcases ‘stockings’ there would have been a pitiful remnant left to put alongside their father’s magnificent gifts. The solution came to her as she crept into the boy’s room to collect the pillowcases they had hung at the foot of their beds. Let HIM be Santa tonight!

Satisfied that the twins were in no danger, Tina went back to bed to try to snatch a little more sleep. It was going to be a long and busy day.

Half a city away, Klaus woke and nudged his sleeping mistress. “I bet the boys enjoy their presents,” he said.


The End

© Copyright H.St.V.Beechey 1993