December 12th

(To read this story from the beginning, click here.)

The Hall erupted in cheer, as did I (for a moment) until I saw Klink skittering between Santa’s boots, and my jaw dropped open—there she was again. I could not escape her.

Santa took his throne after a jolly speech, and began calling children one by one to his lap.

When he called me, he picked up the silver and blue box that Klink was sitting on and put it in my lap. I smiled and nodded and carried my gift and friend back to our table. She simply sat there, staring straight at me with her signature smirk.

“You’d better enjoy this,” she said. “This is his last year.”

I frowned.

“Santa’s retiring.”

My jaw dropped.

“I know, terrible timing.”

And sure enough, the following autumn my parents told me some sap story about Santa not being real. They’d be taking over his duties. I could send my requests to them now.

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