The Elves’ Hot Chocolate
By Adam Dixon
“Well, I’m glad that’s over!” Barry the elf exclaimed, slumping back into the padded seats and closing his eyes. His green pointed hat slid over his mousey fringe. The large red sleigh bucked as it sailed over the clouds, jerking him forwards with a yelp.
“Oi! Pay attention, Baz!” barked a gruff voice beside him. Gary rubbed his head and glared at Barry. “You knocked off my hat, you clumsy oaf! It’s gone right over the edge! What am I supposed to say to Mrs Claus when we get home?”
“Sorry, Gaz,” Barry said sheepishly. He took the reins in a firm grip and surveyed the night sky. It was still dark, although dawn was fast approaching and the horizon was beginning to brighten. The sleigh flew onwards, guided by a red glow from the lead reindeer which cut through the gloom. Barry checked the reins fastened to the nine animals and gave a satisfied nod; everything was secured and in working order.
“I can’t believe I’ve lost my hat,” grumbled Gary, smoothing his grey curls with irritation. “Five years I’ve had it, and it matched my coat perfectly. How will I find another one like it?”
“Oh, shut up about your silly hat, Gaz!” A third elf popped his bald head up from the back of the sleigh and frowned at Gary. “It made you look like a gnome, anyway!”
“A gnome?!” Gary spluttered. “Why, you…”
“Yes, yes,” The third elf dismissed him with a wave of his hand. “Never mind that. How long ‘til we get home, Baz?”
“North Pole ETA one hour, Harry,” replied Barry, glancing at the Sat-Nav screen. “That’s as long as we don’t make any more unscheduled stops.” Barry and Harry both looked pointedly at Gary.
“Hmmph!” Gary folded his arms and sat down with a thump. “You could hardly expect me to hold it in until we’ve finished!”
“We could expect you not to have drank all that hot chocolate once we got started.” Barry replied with a grin. “You knew how long we’d be out here, but you still had almost the whole flask to yourself!”
“But it’s been freezing out here!” Gary protested.
“I didn’t get any of it,” Harry pointed out. “Didn’t want any, though. Hot chocolate’s what got us into this mess in the first place!”
“And I suppose that’s my fault as well!” Gary said sulkily.
“Nah, we’re all to blame for it,” said Harry, clambering over the back of the seat and plonking himself down next to Barry. “It was a great idea, but we should have been more careful.”
“We only wanted to make sure Santa had a proper rest before Christmas!” Barry said indignantly. “What’s so bad about that? The sleeping potion from Mrs Claus’s cupboard seemed like the best way to make sure he got a good night’s sleep!”
“Extra strength, though, wasn’t it?” Harry said, tweaking Barry’s nose playfully. “We didn’t read the label properly. Plus, Gaz can’t tell the difference between teaspoons and tablespoons!”
“Hmmph!” Was Gary’s reply.
“I expect the old man is still snoring away, even now!” chuckled Harry.
“Will he be angry with us, Gaz?” Barry asked, his brow creasing with worry. Gary fidgeted a little, and shrugged.
“Probably,” he said. “If we hadn’t pinched that potion, we wouldn’t’ve had to come out tonight and do his job. Serves us right, really, if he is angry. But at least it’s all done now.”
“I’ll say!” Harry giggled. “I’m pooped after all that! I don’t know how Santa manages it every year, all by himself, too! I must have fallen down more chimneys tonight than Gaz has had pee breaks!” He ducked down as Gary threw one of his shoes at him. Barry and Harry burst into fits of laughter as the shoe sailed over the edge of the sleigh, followed by Gary’s wail of frustration.
“You’re right, though,” Barry said, wiping a tear from his eye. “It makes you appreciate the effort he puts in every year. I just hope we did a good enough job.”
“Of course we did,” Gary said, peering over the edge of the sleigh with a forlorn look on his face. “We didn’t do it as well as the boss, obviously, but we still did it. That’s got to count for something.”
“Yep, that’s right, Gaz,” said Harry cheerfully, pulling his friends into a tight embrace. “We messed up, but we’ve done alright in the end, and no child will be without a present this Christmas.”
“We have missed something, though,” replied Barry, pulling away and taking up the reins again. Gary and Harry looked him, confused. A grin spread across Barry’s face.
“We’ve not said the words yet.” He said quietly, his eyes glittering.
“Oh…” Harry’s eyes grew wide. “Do you…think we should?”
“Those are his words, not ours,” muttered Gary doubtfully.
“Come on, fellas!” said Barry, laughing. “We’ve nicked his whole job tonight! We might as well do it properly!”
“True…” Harry grinned. “But we all need to do it. All of us or none!”
“What do you reckon, Gaz?” Barry asked. Gary paused, looking at the eager faces of his friends. His frown broke and he chuckled, shaking his head.
“Oh, all right then. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it!” He said, beaming. Barry and Harry cheered.
“Come on then! On three…one…two…three!”
The sleigh sped through the clouds towards the North Pole, and three joyous voices rang out into the night.
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”