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lavoro pubblicato sabato 24 dicembre 2016
ultima lettura mercoledì 23 maggio 2018

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Phinny's Weird Christmas Story

di DrWatson. Letto 400 volte. Dallo scaffale Straniera

Questo è ciò che succede quando il figlio sedicenne di Babbo Natale deve distribuire i regali in giro per il mondo...

It's December and there are two weeks left to Christmas. New York is constantly enlightened by all Christmas lights and the streets are full of people who hurry here and there. The shops stay open all day and even late in the night. It's snowing, as it's usual during this time of the year in New York, and school holidays are getting closer. The students of Brooklyn National high school are particularly happy to go to school today, maybe because they know there are just few days left. Phinny is a student of this high school, he's a 16-year-old boy and he's clearly not American. He has short blond hair, a bit messy, and intense blue eyes. His skin is very light and he says he's English, though things are slightly different. He tells he came to the US just to study outside his country and he loves New York. He's staying at a residence for students, or that's what he says. He actually lives in a small house in the periphery with a strange creature. She is an old lady, a bit fat and with short curly blonde hair, but her particular sign are her ears: pointed ears. Phinny lives there and the old lady prepares everything that he may need: food, breakfast, she washes his clothes and especially, she looks after him, like a baby sitter would do. The morning, Phinny takes his coat and his rucksack and hurries down the stairs to reach the kitchen.
"Hello" says the lady, but Phinny is too busy stealing a hot donut from the tray and eating it. He hurries to the door then, while the lady stares at him.
"Hey, young lad. Not even a good morning?" she adds. Phinny turns around with his mouth still full.
"Mmm, sorry Margy, I'm late! Thank you!" he says.
"Put on your scarf or you'll get cold!"
"Margy, I'm habit to cold weather, don't worry!" he tells, while running out. The lady shakes her head resigned and resumes her cooking.
Phinny arrives running at school and quickly goes to his locker. The students are pretty excited and there's a girl going around, giving some papers. She's Phinny's classmate and his friend, a pretty and nice small girl, with long curly hair.
"Hey, Phinny!" she calls him from behind, reaching him while he turns around.
"Amy! Hi, how are you?" he asks, trying to start a conversation but maybe not in the best way, since they see each other every day. She doesn't mind and gives him one of her papers.
"Are you free on Christmas Eve?" she asks "You know, I'm organizing a small party at my home and I'd like you to come". He looks a bit surprised at first.
"Oh, yeah, I think I'm free" he tells, after thinking for a second.
"Awesome! The English guy couldn't miss!" she says, smiling at him.
"Thank you Amy" he tells. He has a strange accent while talking, not exactly what you would call British, but he makes it sound like that. Also, he's staying there since two years already and he's losing his strange accent a bit.
He comes back home and sits at the table where he and Margy are lunching.
"So boy, how did it go today?" she asks.
"Well, very well actually. I'm going to a party for Christmas Eve" he tells, happily while Margy looks at him a bit frowning. "What?" he asks while eating some more.
"You already decided that? You didn't ask anyone, me or your father"
"But I'm 16! And I came here to be free. I wanna go to that party". She stays silent and he gets there's something more. "Are you going to tell dad?"
"Yes, I have to. You know how this works"
"You know how important is for him"
"Important what? Waiting for him to pass by? While he doesn't show himself for the rest of the year? What about what is important for me?"
"Don't start with all this story again, Nicholas" - that's his real name - "it's you that wanted to leave, otherwise you would have seen him every day"
"Oh, so beautiful..." he murmurs, while resuming his lunch. Margy observes him, thinking of what she should do next.
Few hours later, he's in his room studying when he feels his hand like slowly tingling. He takes a look, surprised, at his right hand, the one with which he was writing on his notebook when slowly his whole arm starts tingling and then all his body. He doesn't understand what's going on, when he suddenly find himself kneeling on the floor of a huge, immense toy industry. He looks around surprised and takes up his hands from the floor: they're not tingling anymore. He looks around and he barely recognizes the place: it's full of presents and gifts all around, some in boxes and some already wrapped with Christmas paper, all shiny and decorated with reindeers, Christmas trees and stars. There are some elves running back and forth, bringing boxes, and a lot of automatic machines who take presents everywhere. He gets up and looks incredulous, it was completely different the last time he saw it. He admires around when someone pats him in the back.
"Hey, young Niko is back!" tells a high pitched voice. Phinny turns around to get a glance of an elf who is already running away. He looks a bit farther and sees this bag man coming toward him. He's an old man, with white beard and hair, both pretty long and he's pretty fat. He's wearing his usual uniform of when he works in his factory, a thick red uniform with white fur here and there, long leather boots and he's taking his red hat in his hands.
"Dad!" exclaims Phinny "What am I doing here??"
"Niko! I'm so happy to see you!" says Santa Claus, hugging him tight. "Look at you, you grew up a lot this year" he messes his hair.
"Yeah, well, dad... Slow down" tells Phinny, trying to move back.
"Have you seen the factory? Isn't it beautiful?" he shows around.
"Yes, it's amazing, I was really surprised. You changed a lot"
"Yes, it became even bigger, that's why I've been very busy lately"
"Yeah yeah..." comments Phinny, while his father leads him around keeping an arm on his shoulders. "But why did you call me? Margy talked to you?"
"Uhm, yes, she did actually... But come with me, I want to talk to you privately" he says, taking him to a private room, looks like his study. There's a desk and a big armchair behind it. There are two other armchairs in front of it and the desk is full with papers and envelopes. There's a window in the front and some closets. At the end is not a very big room. Santa sits at his desk and gestures to his son to take a seat. Phinny sits down and observes his father.
"Dad, look, if it's because of the party, I can assure you it's safe. I know the girl and she's very good..."
"That's not the problem kid..."
"It's because of our traditional meeting? We can see each other another time, or actually we already saw each other..."
"Niko, wait a moment and listen to me" says Santa, not angrily but still severely. Phinny shuts up, a bit afraid. "There's more behind it and I'd really have anything against you going to that girl's party, I know her, she's very good. But it's another thing. I thought about it for a while and I didn't want to tell you yet, but then Margy called me and told me about this party. I had to tell you soon and so I called you here" he explains while Phinny listens carefully. "It's time for me to step aside and let you take my place"
"What?" asks Phinny, incredulous and confused.
"I'm old Niko, and I don't think I can do this anymore, not as I wished. You're young but old enough for this"
"I'm 16!"
"I was 14 when I started. It's been a hundred years now"
"But... I never did this before, you went with the grandfather before"
"I'd have taken you, if you stayed here. But you wanted to live like all the boys of your age"
"But, dad... I don't think I'm ready" Phinny stammers.
"Don't worry, you'll be. I'll do the job over here, presents, gifts, directing the elves and feeding the reindeers. You'll just have to fly them around the world"
"I never flew them"
"You'll learn, kid" Santa tells, smiling.
"And if we postpone it to next year? I'll be older, I can prepare..."
"And you can go to the girl's party?"
"Niko, I can't do this anymore. I'm not strong enough"
"I have to socialize with people of my age too..."
"And billions of kids in the world are waiting for their Christmas presents. Who will give them if I can't?". Phinny stays silent and looks down. "Kid, you'll go to the next party, for New Year's Eve"
"There isn't anyone..." he points out. "I will have to impersonate you"
"No, you'll have to be yourself. You'll be the new Santa". Phinny looks up, worried and sad.
"People is fond of your image, not mine"
"No one will see you, kid, that's the main point of our charme. Don't worry about it". Phinny looks down again.
"So no party"
"No kid. I'm sorry. On the 24th morning, come here and I'll hand you the presents and the sleigh" he ends. Soon later, Phinny wakes up again on the floor of his room, laying down there. He opens his eyes and blinks around. He's back in New York. He soon gets down to find Margy still cooking some Christmas sweets. He stands on the frame of the door and stays silent. She turns around and starts a bit, seeing him there.
"Niko, you wanted to scare me?" she asks.
"Are you trying to make me get fat like my father?" asks he and Margy chuckles.
"Oh no, I just like cooking"
"You knew that, right?". Her expression saddens a bit.
"Uhm, yeah, your father told me he was thinking about it, time ago, but nothing was sure". Phinny looks at her without saying anything but his eyes get lucid and he almost cries.
"Look, I'm sorry kid. I know how much it meant for you, but Christmas comes first in this family. You'll have other chances..." she says, but he turns around quickly and runs away.

Next morning, Phinny stays closed inside his room and doesn't want to get out. Margy knocks at his door, he hasn't come out since the previous evening and still he doesn't get out.
"Nicholas! Get out or you'll be late!!" shouts Margy. "Nicholas! I swear, get out now or I'll knock down the door!". The door bursts open and Phinny gets out, violently, walking away with his bag on his shoulder.
"Listen here, lad. Stop acting like a wayward teen and get on your feet. Start acting like an adult, stop whining and show that you deserve the faith your father put in you!" she yells at him, but he already went out of house, without even taking his breakfast and slamming the door.
Phinny gets to school and sees the janitors around putting up the Christmas tree and holidays lights. Everyone is happy because most of the students can skip lessons, with the excuse they're helping putting up the decorations. Phinny walks by, sad and looking at those lights melancholic. He shakes his head and walks ahead, keeping his head down, when he sees Amy walking towards him. He looks up and tries to look happy, even if she hasn't seen him yet.
"Hey, Amy!" he calls her, running to her. She smiles at him.
"Phinny, hey! What lessons do you have now?". He thinks for a while.
"Uhm, geography I think"
"Oh, awesome"
"Look, Amy, I have to tell you a thing" he starts, looking down and getting sad again. He probably looks more dramatic than he should.
"What's up? You look sad, something bad happened?"
"Not grave, well... I can't come to your party, sorry. I want to but I can't". She gets sad too.
"Oh... I'm sorry. I wanted you in, I cared about it"
"I wanted to but my father..." he thinks for a second "I have to come back home and I have to leave"
"Oh... Doesn't matter, it's good to spend Christmas with family". This sentence just saddens Phinny even more.
"Mm, yeah..."
"Is there anything else?" she asks, trying to make him look up.
"No, nothing"
"Look Phinny, you should be happy to come back home. Don't worry if you can't come, you can come another time. Maybe I can invite only you". He smiles and laughs a bit. She punches his arm, smiling. "Are you going to London then?". Phinny looks up confused.
"To your family"
"Ah, yes! Yes, right, to London" he tells, when his stomach starts making noises. He's a bit embarrassed and puts his hand to his stomach. "I'm sorry... I didn't have breakfast this morning"
"I was late" he invents, smiling. Amy starts searching in her bag and takes out a little envelope with some chocolate bars.
"Come on, take it" she offers it.
"Oh, Amy, that's your snack..."
"Come on, it's just a snack that I just bought, I can take another. You're hungry and even if this is small, it can help". Phinny smiles and takes it, thanking her. Then the bell rings. Amy smiles at him and gives him a quick hug, surprising him. In fact it's a little awkward scene. After this, she hurries away and he would punch himself for his awkwardness.

Days pass and soon Christmas comes. School holidays started since a few days and Phinny got habit to the idea of his little job and hearing Amy's reaction and words, he even decided to slow down with his anger toward Margy. The morning of Christmas Eve, Phinny teleports himself in Finland, in Lapponia, his home, and reaches his father's factory. The elves are all happy to see him, some are already preparing the reindeers outside in the sleigh. Phinny smiles at the reindeers and waves at them. They reply by jumping up on their lower feet. Phinny goes to his father, who smiles at him.
"I was afraid you wouldn't have come, Niko" he says. Phinny still looks a bit sad but he tries to force a smile.
"I couldn't have done that" he tells. Santa gives him a red uniform like his own, but way smaller, and tells him to dress up. He then gives him a big sack with all the presents and helps him, with all the elves, putting it in the back of the sleigh. Santa looks at his son with the proud look of a father and forces a red hat on his head.
"Dad..." complains Phinny, trying to wear it better or at least raise it above his eyes.
"Good luck kid. Remember everything I told you, be quick, silent, stealthy and enjoy it" says Santa, before hugging him. Phinny gets up on the sleigh and takes up the reins. There's a lot of empty space in there, the sleigh is really big and he's pretty slim. He searches for the best position, then shakes the reins a bit. The reindeers starts moving and slowly they raise up from the ground. Santa and the elves are waving up to him, joyfully and a bit moved. Phinny looks down amazed and in little time he reaches the clouds. He heads to New Zealand and Australia because there it will be Christmas in just a few hours. Phinny carries on his work pretty well: he flies over the towns, stops over the roofs of houses with kids, takes the present and teleports down into the house. He then leaves the gift under the tree and if there are any biscuits, he takes one: he needs something to eat at times. He can't drink alcohol though, because if he gets drunk, his father would surely find it out. He then comes back to his sleigh, swings the reins and starts flying again. It's a long job and it takes hours. He flies chasing the night and reaching every part of the world. He goes to Asia, China, Russia, India; then he arrives in Africa and Europe. He loves Europe and loves all the lights of the capitals. Paris, Rome, London, Berlin,... He would just stay there to admire them all. But he has to go ahead and he comes back to America. Reindeers are very fast and so he brings gifts to all the Brazilian kids and then flies swiftly to New York. Margy looks up to the sky, habit to do that every year now, waiting for Santa to come and bringing some little present to Phinny. But this year is Phinny himself that drives the sleigh and Margy smiles seeing him flying over there. He decides to make one more stop and goes to Amy's house. She's not a kid anymore but he has a little, personal gift for her. He stops the reindeers over her house's roof and teleports himself down to her room. She's quietly sleeping and she didn't hear him. Now, he generally leaves the gift under the tree and he can see lights outside her bedroom, very likely the lights of her Christmas tree - he knows she loves every kind of Christmas tradition and decoration. But nevertheless he decides to leave the box just in front of her bed, just for her. It's a medium sized box, with red opaque paper wrapped around it and golden tape with big curls on top. He left also a little note, just with a Christmas wish. He takes a look at her, to understand if she's waking up. He doesn't know she's been trying to contact him all day through his phone, but he was on journey. Phinny hears the footsteps of reindeers on the roof and remembers he has to go. He get closer to the window to take a look outside. It's a beautiful view, even if she doesn't live in a skyscraper, there's a lot to see. The sky is clear and there are stars, there's also a full Moon that enlightens the room. As Phinny gets closer to the window, he blocks the moonlight and shields Amy's face from it. His shadow falls on her and causes her to slowly wake up. He doesn't see at first, but then hearssome moaning and turns around quickly. Amy doesn't scream just because she's too sleepy but she's staring at him incredulous. He's frozen and doesn't know what to do. He looks around, searching for some way to escape and hopes she doesn't see his face in the shadow.
"What the hell... Phinny?!" she tells.
"Oh, no..." he comments, staying immobile.
"What are you doing in my room? How did you get in? Weren't you back to England? And why are you dressed as Santa Claus?" she asks all together, while getting up and taking a better look at him.
"I... Uhm, well, I..." he stammers, when his eyes fall on the box. "I came here to give you that" he points at the present on the floor. She turns around and sees it over the carpet at the other side of the bed.
"A present? For me?" she asks.
"Yes, right. I wanted to give you"
"You could do that during the day... But why are you in New York?". He needs to think quickly because he can't just tell the truth. She wouldn't believe him and he would lose her precious friendship.
"Ahm... Sorry, I lied to you. I didn't come back home. I couldn't come to your party because... I had to work"
"Work? Tonight?"
"What job can you do on Christmas Eve?" she asks and then adds. "Oh, I see. You're making Santa in some supermarket, that's why that costume. You forgot the beard though" she chuckles a bit and he smiles.
"Yeah, exactly, I was making Santa. And I need to go" he tells, trying to escape her and getting out of the room. But she grabs his arm and stops him.
"Why did you search for a job? Do you have money issues?"
"Oh no, nothing of the kind" he shakes his head "Just Christmas spirit"
"Oh, you're adorable. And I must say this costume suits you" she smiles and he feels a bit uncomfortable because he needs to go. Then she quickly makes a step ahead and holding his cheeks, she kisses him. He's surprised and even a bit shocked. She moves back and he doesn't know what to do. He'd like to kiss her again but he's in a hurry.
"Dear me, Phinny, you're frozen!" she tells, holding his cheeks. Then she takes his hands and takes off the gloves to feel his cold hands.
"Don't worry, I'm habit" he tells, trying to pull them back.
"Who can make you work like this? It's inhuman, you're freezing. Are you sure this costume is thick enough?"
"Yes, don't worry" he tells, trying to escape.
"Phinny! Wait, you don't want me to thank you for the gift?" she says, following him outside and whispering, not to wake up her parents. Phinny can see a big house around him and a huge Christmas tree in the sitting room down there. Amy is right behind him and he can't use his teleport.
"Don't worry Amy, it's just a little thing"
"I want to do something for you too. A hot chocolate?"
"I love chocolate, but I'm late, I have to go"
"Go where?"
"I still have to work Amy and if I don't come back, they will fire me!"
"Those people are heartless in making you work at such a late hour and with this cold. Let me give you a blanket, ok?"
"I need to go"
"Just two seconds. It's snowing outside and I don't need a frozen friend". Phinny accepts, thinking she may leave him alone, but instead she takes his hand and drags him back to her room. Once there, she takes a blanket from the closet and puts it on his shoulders. He smiles while she rubs his arms a bit.
"I've been trying to call you all day" she says.
"Sorry, my phone died somehow. I don't know what happened" he tells and he's visibly tired.
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah, just tired. It's been a long night, very long"
"You can rest a bit here if you want."
"I have to work..."
"But kids are all sleeping now, for who should you work? Unless you're a Santa stripper version" she jokes and he laughs a bit.
"I need to come home"
"You live in a residence. Really Phinny, I organized the party just because I wanted you to come here. You didn't come but for some reason you're here now. Don't you think it's better to spend the rest of the night with someone you know, some friend?". Phinny looks down. "Come on, stay here for a while and have a rest. You can warm up and when you're refreshed you can get back to the residence". Phinny looks up, he, only he, can hear the reindeers over his head, they're tapping on the roof impatiently. But he feels really tired and cold. He needs a break or he would probably faint along the flight. He can stay here for some time and once Amy is asleep, he can teleport away. It's just midnight, the night is still long and he'd just need to hurry a bit later, in the last part of his travel. Therefore, he accepts and Amy makes place for him next to her in the big bed. She goes under the blankets and he stays out, covering himself with the blanket she gave him.

Few time later, Phinny wakes up again. He looks around a bit confused when he remembers what happened: he fell asleep there and deeply, he counted on waking up early but it didn't happen. The sky outside is clearer than before, though still dark. Terrified and scared, Phinny sits on the bed, even a bit violently, trying to recover his red hat from the pillow. He can't hear the reindeers anymore and he searches around for a clock, worried. He finds it right next to him on the bed table and he looks at it: 4a.m. It's damn late! He almost screams and his violent movements wake up Amy. She looks up to him sleepy while he gets back his boots.
"What's going on?" she asks.
"It's late, it's late! I have to go, quickly!" he says in a hurry and she still looks perplexed. "I'm sorry, I have to go. If I mess up everything..." he doesn't finish. "I'll tell you tomorrow, or today, later. I'll pass later and I explain you, excuse me" he says running out of the room. Even if sleepy, Amy gets up to see where he went but when she gets out, he's already gone. Phinny teleports himself up in the ceiling where he finds the reindeers, standing there half asleep. They got tired of waiting for him. He hurries to the sleigh and takes a look at east. There are still two hours to go to sunrise and so he has very little time to finish. He shakes the reins and after a bit of time to wake them up, the reindeers start again. Phinny starts flying quickly all around town, all around the East Coast and down to Cuba, Brazil and Uruguay. But the morning is quickly arriving in the middle United States and so he has to hurry upward again, sweeping the globe vertically. It's a hard job and he ends up being more tired than before. The dawn is rising behind him and he has to hurry. He tries to go quicker but there are many stops he has to do. It's already 6a.m. when he stops at a kid's house. He leaves the sleigh the roof and teleports himself down, searching for the Christmas tree. He finds it near the fireplace when he starts hearing noises, like footsteps. Alarmed, he hides behind a corner with the present in his hands, trying to stay invisible. The kid, a young girl with a pink pajama, stealthily arrives and looks under the Christmas tree, not finding anything. She looks around, disappointed and sad. She takes another look at the tree, searching behind it or up to the chimney but nothing. She doesn't cry but tears up, tightly holding her stuffed bear and staring immobile at the tree, like expecting for presents to show up or not believe this can be true. Phinny peeps out at times, seeing if she's stil there and she is, crying. Phinny feels suddenly guilty because that girl really is sad and she thinks she won't get anything for Christmas, that Santa didn't consider her. She has her present but Phinny thinks of all those kids who might not get their presents because he won't manage to arrive there. He wasted time, he didn't do what he was supposed to do and again and again he's wasting time. He closes his eyes and starts tearing up too, because if this scene will happen again in many other housee it's just because of him and he ruined many kids' Christmases. Suddenly caught by the need to hurry away, he throws the box in the sitting room, while the girl is leaving, and hurries away crying. The girl starts and quickly turns around, catching a vague glimpse of Phinny disappearing away. That wasn't surely the Santa Claus she was expecting, not a big old man but a thin young boy. She doesn't care much when she sees her present on the ground and runs to it. Phinny gets back to the sleigh and swings the reins, inciting the reindeers to start again, when the sun starts rising. Phinny looks incredulous and worried at the sunrise, with the white pom-pom of his hat that hangs in front of his face. He shakes the reins some more but the reindeers are already going by their own. They mustn't see the sunlight or they will quickly fly back to the North Pole. Phinny tries to get back the control, yelling at them and swinging the reins, but the reindeers start flying away rapidly to north. Phinny doesn't have the control anymore and he's panicking trying to get the sleigh going west, but quickly he's himself expelled from the sleigh, falling down with a loud thud on the floor. Confused and a bit dizzy, he blinks around, finding out he got back to his house in New York. Margy gets up and goes down to the living room to see what the noise was and finds Phinny still on the ground.
"Nicholas! What happened?" she asks, with a slightly scolding tone. Phinny looks around sadly and sees all the Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree. Angry at himself and frustrated, he gets up and runs away crying to his room.
Margy knocks at his room but he just keeps shouting that he doesn't want to see anyone. In his anger, he forgot to lock the door though and Margy gets in anyway. Phinny took off his red costume and is now sitting on his bed, looking grumpy and a bit offended.
"I said I wanted to stay alone" he remarks, but Margy doesn't care and sits in front of him.
"Oh excuse me, grumpy boy. I think I deserve to know what happened". Phinny shakes his head.
"Nothing, I just messed up everything" he tells, looking away. Margy looks a bit surprised and touched.
"What does that mean?"
"I ruined everything! I betrayed my father's faith, I made a mess!" he tells, disappointed. Margy looks at him, hurt because of what happened and sad seeing him like this.
"Maybe it's not as grave as you think"
"I couldn't deliver all the gifts, it is grave!" he says and she gets very serious too. "I ruined a lot of kids' Christmases, my father won't ever forgive me for this"
"Be more precise, what did you do?". Phinny glances at her and then looks down.
"I was tired and I needed some rest. I stayed at my friend's house and slept a bit..." he tells, ashamed while Margy looks at him frowning. "But when I woke up it was too late. I tried to do as much as I could but then the sun rose, the reindeers saw it and I couldn't control them anymore. I tried..." he tells, a bit whining.
"Your friend is that girl ?". He waits for a second.
"Amy, yes...". Margy squints at him.
"And is there anything else? About that girl?". He hesitates and looks down.
"No, we're just friends. I was there to give her a present"
"Niko, you know that Christmas for us, comes before everything. Everything "
"Yes, I know..." he shakes his head.
"And why did you do that then?"
"I was tired!" he insists "I never did this before, I don't know what is right and what's not, the timing, what to do when I get tired,..."
"I understand that Niko, but you should have told your father before this could happen"
"I did, I told him but he didn't want to hear". She sighs.
"Well, we can't do much now, what's done is done" she pauses and he looks down. "How much was left?"
"Ahm, half US and Canada, Mexico, Chile, Perù, Hawaii, some other Southern States and Polinesia". Margy shakes her head.
"Niko, that's a lot"
"I know" he tells, holding his head on his hands and then rubbing it. "I made a mess... Dad will call me soon, I'm sure of that"
"Yes, you can be sure"
"What can I tell him? How can I explain?" he looks at her.
"You know him, I think you can't avoid his fury. And then I don't know what he will decide. I'm sorry". Phinny looks down sobbing a bit. "Well, at least you're fine. That's already a good thing". He looks up to her, intending that she means he's such a disaster he could have even killed himself in the meanwhile. Few seconds later, he feels his hands tingling and the tingle spreads to all his body.
"He's calling me! He's calling! What can I tell him?" he asks, worried.
"The truth. Remember he knows everything, don't worsen your situation" she says, when Phinny suddenly finds himself again in the North Pole factory, kneeling on the floor in front of his father and all his elves, staring down at him. Phinny slowly looks up, knowing what is expecting him. His father is towering over him with folded arms and looks very angry, that is strange for him. Beside Phinny, there's the sack with all the presents he couldn't give. Phinny gets up, worried.
"Nicholas!" echoes his father's voice. "I'm really disappointed by your behaviour. I thought you could handle it but apparently, you can't. I trusted you and I gave you my sleigh, the presents and the hope of a joyful Christmas. And you? What did you do? Slept during the travel because you were tired??". There's an awe among all the crowd and Phinny looks down.
"I'm sorry dad, I..."
"Shut up!" he interrupts him "You just had to deliver the presents without any problems! Instead: you slept at a girl's house after making a not allowed stop at her's, you showed yourself twice, you didn't finish your job and made vain all of our work!" he shouts, while all the elves start murmuring.
"Our job, yeah! We worked all the year for this" they say.
"Our hard work! You ruined it like this!"
"I'm sorry... Really, I'm so sorry, I didn't want to..." Phinny tries to explain, almost crying.
"Now it's late, Nicholas! You should have thought before doing a mess! Now millions of kids are sad because they didn't get what they asked me!". Phinny starts tearing up but wipes off his tears because he doesn't want the others to see. "What would you have done if I didn't give you the gift you asked, uh?"
"I made a mistake, I know... If you want to substitute me with someone else, I'd understand this"
"It's not a matter of substitution. You are my son and you should have been the one who kept the tradition going on. This is what our family lives for, and you threw it all, your legacy and our traditions! Yes, surely I will find someone else next year because I can't trust you again and risking to ruin Christmas again. Now, you want to live like a normal boy of your age, go and do that! Margy will come here again, she's not needed there anymore."
"Dad, please, let me explain..." he asks.
"I already know Nicholas"
"I tried my best! After hours of flying here and there, I was tired. Don't tell me you never felt tired... I had to recharge batteries and I counted on waking up soon"
"But it didn't happen. And instead you slept next to a girl during Christmas night!"
"She was insisting and I didn't know how to go away..."
"If you never went there, you wouldn't have the problem!"
"I had a present for her!"
"Your present. She's not exactly a kid, isn't she?"
"But she's good. She deserved that"
"I know she's a good girl but there are a lot of other good people in the world that don't get presents from us. We work for kids, remember that. I know you like her, but that's not enough. Now, youbcan come back to New York" he ends, turning on his heels and going away. Phinny stays there, frozen and hurt. He still has some tears on his face and the whole scene has been embarrassing, a big scolding in front of anyone and discussing about his personal feelings too, without possibility of reply. Evidently his father wanted to give him a strong lesson and now everyone here is mad at him. The elves give him a bad look and they all turn away. Someone reaches him from behind and pats him in the back.
"I'm sorry" says an elf, then going away. Phinny doesn't know what to do, his father looked serious and so he probably lost his job forever. He will find someone else. It's a big disappointment for him and so he teleports himself again to New York.

Few time later, Phinny rings the bell of Amy's door. He promised to come and so he did. There's a big crown on the door and Phinny looks sad at it, when the door opens and a man appears in front of him: it's Amy's father.
"Hello, who are you?" he asks. Phinny is a bit surprised.
"I'm... It's Amy's father? I'm Phinny, her classmate"
"Oh, Phinny, yeah! She talked about you" he says, moving from the door. "Amy! There's Phinny here! Come on, get in" he adds. Phinny waits for some minutes, when Amy arrives. He observes the house in the meantime and it's really big. The huge Christmas tree that he saw the night before is standing in front of him, it's huge and beautiful and reaches the balustrade of the bedrooms' corridor on the upper floor.
"Phinny, hello. Merry Christmas!" she says, hugging him. He hugs her back, though still sad.
"Merry Christmas..." he says, not much convinced. "You have a huge house"
"Oh yes, it's pretty big. I loved your present, it's awesome! I always wanted a camera". He smiles.
"I'm happy you liked it". She takes his hands and feels how cold they are.
"You're still freezing from yesterday?"
"No, it's just I'm usually really cold". She smiles, thinking he's just joking.
"Look, about what happened yesterday night..." she starts.
"Yeah, I know I've been pretty mysterious but it's a complicated story". She frowns at him.
"I wasn't talking about that... But about another thing"
"Oh..." he says, after thinking for a while.
"You can explain me later, but I wanted to tell you I was pretty sleepy and so I can't precisely answer for my actions"
"You're telling you... Uhm, you wouldn't kiss me again?"
"No, I mean... I thought you didn't like it, for some reason..."
"No, no, I... I did. I was surprised and a bit in a hurry"
"Yeah ok, explain me" she says, taking him in a more private corner of the hallway.
"I don't know, it's a long story"
"I have time. Until lunch" she jokes.
"You wouldn't believe me and I don't want you to think I'm crazy"
"I won't think that but please, tell me". He waits for a while.
"I don't know where to start... Ok, you thought my job was to make Santa at some supermarket but the fact is that I was Santa all the day"
"You worked the whole day?"
"The whole night. I've been flying reindeers all around the world, delivering presents". She looks at him perplexed and then starts laughing.
"You have a strange sense of humour, Phinny. It must be an English thing"
"I'm not joking, Amy!" he tells, a bit irritated. "And I'm not English, I'm Finnish. My name is Nicholas junior and I'm Santa's son". Amy looks at him like he's making fun of her. Therefore he decides to disappear and Amy looks around incredulous.
"Phinny! What is that??". He appears again in front of her.
"Teleport. I can teleport myself"
"Really? Some psychic power?"
"No, I can do that only for Christmas and Christmas Eve, because I'm Santa's son and I have this power". She's still incredulous.
"Ok, this is crazy but you have my attention. This is incredible and since I know you couldn't try this before, in my house, I must believe you, however crazy it can sound". He smiles bitterly.
"Thank you"
"So, how should I call you now?"
"You can call me Phinny, or Niko"
"And what is 'Phinny'? It's one of your names?"
"No, it's my undercover name. I chose it-"
"Because you're Finnish"
"I should have known that. And I thought your parents were drunk when they named you". He chuckles a bit.
"No. I had to create my own identity when I came here"
"Right, why are you here, in the US?"
"Because I wanted to live as a normal teenager. So I moved here and invented my story. I live with a lady, one of my father's elves, outside New York"
"You have a babysitter?" she asks surprised and he stays silent for a while.
"Yeah, it's weird. But my father says I'm precious and I guess he couldn't let me go around alone. Probably he doesn't think that anymore and Margy will go away..." he lowers his tone.
"Slow down, wait, I'm getting lost. Why should you be precious? And why you're not anymore?". He gets sad.
"Because of what happened yesterday night..."
"Oh gosh, because of me?? Does it have anything to do with me?"
"No, no, it's been my fault. I should have carried on quickly..."
"What happened?" she asks confused.
"My father told me I should have delivered the presents this year, for the first time, and that's why I couldn't go to the party, and you couldn't find me yesterday. I was flying around for the whole day and I was really tired at the end. I passed by and left you my present but you woke up and saw me. I should have quickly gone away but instead I stayed here and fell asleep. When I woke up, it was too late. I tried to finish my job but I couldn't. I did my best but millions of kids remained without presents because of me. I failed and my father will never forgive me for this. I should have been the one who carried on the tradition but now he fired me. He decided I will never do this again and he will find someone else". Amy steps towards him and poses a hand on his arm, rubbing it and trying to comfort him.
"Maybe he's just mad, he wasn't serious. He just wanted to make you feel guilty"
"No no, he was serious and very mad. I'm over, this is over"
"Hey, don't be so sad, come on. Look, this whole story still sounds absurd to me but I think I know you enough to say you're not a psycho and I should believe you. But Santa looks like any other father in the world, he wants to give you a lesson"
"I ruined their work, the work of a whole year just because of my distraction"
"You're 16, Phinny. You can make mistakes"
"Not in my family and not about Christmas. He trusted me"
"Look, how many presents did you have to deliver yet?"
"A lot"
"Maybe you're still in time"
"I don't have the reindeers and they don't fly during the day"
"There is the mail service, Phinny. And you told you can teleport, you can take some by hand"
"They are a lot!"
"And you'll use both methods then!". Phinny thinks for a while but doesn't look convinced.
"Can you help me?" he asks. Amy looks at him surprised.
"Can you help me fixing this?". Amy is a bit unsure, actually she still doesn't believe him.
"Alright, well, what should I do?" she asks, while Phinny acts soon.

Amy doesn't even have time to add anything that she suddenly finds herself in a completely different place: Santa's factory at the North Pole, with Phinny next to her, holding her hand. She turns to him shocked and he quickly leaves her hand. He smiles seeing her surprised expression but she's slightly scared.
"Where are we?? How could you do that? What happened?" she asks.
"Teleport, I told you" he says. She looks around and observes the factory. There are huge spaces and machines, but everything is calm now. There aren't elves around, except for some drunk ones here and there. She turns to Phinny again.
"It's incredible. Phinny... I must tell you that I didn't actually believe you, until now. I thought you were getting crazy or maybe you drank too much. I needed an actual proof and this... I think I have it now". Phinny looks at her a bit hurt, he thought she believed him but she thought what everyone would have thought.
"Look, to me it's already a shock learning that Santa Claus is real" she adds, looking around.
"Uhm, ok, well..."
"Don't take it bad. You said too that this could sound crazy"
"Yes, I know. But you were talking to me like I was crazy and I believed you were serious. Now I don't know if this can work"
"What? Delivering all presents?"
"Yeah". She thinks for a while.
"Look, I told you so and we should try. I feel like if this all happened to you it's also my fault and I can at least help you in this"
"Amy, it's not-"
"I insisted in you staying, so I have my part of guilt in it. Now, you took my why?"
"To take all the presents"
"They're here?"
"Yes, but my father has them. I don't know how happy he would be to know I want to deliver them all"
"I'll talk with him and explain him. Where is he?" she asks, starting walking ahead. Phinny runs after her.
"Wait, are you sure? He can be rude and angry"
"He's mad at you, not me... I will convince him. We don't have the whole day" she says. Therefore, Phinny leads Amy to Santa's office and knocks there. He doesn't know if his father is there, but it appears he's right. Santa tells to get in and so Phinny slowly steps in, followed by Amy. Santa gives him a still angry look.
"Nicholas, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in New York?"
"Dad, look. I know that you're still angry, but I want to fix this"
"Fix this? Really? No, we're already taking care of it"
"How, sleeping and getting drunk?" asks Phinny, bitterly.
"Oh wait, remind me: what did you do last night? Why are we in this situation now?"
"Mister, excuse me" Amy starts talking and Santa looks at her, while Phinny looks down. "I think I have my own guilt in this story and I can assure you that we want to remedy. At least give us a chance"
"Amy, it's too late. He had his chance". Amy is a bit surprised because he knows her name.
"Let us try, please" she begs. Therefore, Santa calls all the elves and starts a briefing, with Phinny and Amy too.
"Please, a minute of attention" starts Santa, shutting up all the chatting elves. "My son here and this girl want to try and fix the mess they did last night. They want to deliver all the remaining presents"
"And messing up with all of them too? No way!" yells an elf, while Amy and Phinny look around, trying to see him.
"Yeah, they messed up once, how can we expect they won't do that again?" tells another.
"No, we won't. Believe us" tells Phinny.
"And how could you do it without the sleigh?" says another one.
"By mail service and taking them by hand"
"Oh yes, 'hello, it's Santa Claus here! Or better, his clumsy son who messed up everything' " intervenes another. Phinny looks a bit hurt and Amy looks sad at him.
"Wait, guys. Maybe we should at least listen to him" says one. Phinny turns to him and smiles, while all the other elves stays silent and frowning.
"Kiddo, what do you have to say?" asks the elf.
"I wanted to excuse myself, firstly. I know I made a big mistake but I want to remedy. I know it can be hard but I don't want to waste all the work you did"
"You already did that" yells one.
"But I can fix it now. We can fix it. I may need your help to add a little message in a card in all presents, and they can be a lot for us. We're just asking for a little help, we can still save it..." he tells. Everyone stays silent and Santa observes all of them, one by one.
"I'm in. I want to give him a chance" says the same elf. "And so, brothers?". The elves hesitate for an instant and Phinny looks around, worried and anxious. Then they slowly start exclaiming, telling to give him a chance. Phinny smiles happily and the elf smiles too. Santa looks a bit surprised and gives him the charge to fix his mess. He then goes away, pretending to be still angry but actually happy because everyone gave its faith again in his boy.

A bit later, Phinny gave order to all the elves to start working on the cards. They all write a little message and pin the card on the presents. The message runs
Hello, it's Santa. Sorry for the late, but my reindeers got tired and I couldn't reach you in time. Merry Christmas!!
Some elves are still offended by this line, but order is they have to work. They fix all the presents and put them again in the sack. Phinny and Amy are sitting at one side, doing the same job. The elf, Phinny's friend, comes by.
"Moka! Thank you for your support" says Phinny, getting up and going to hug the little creature. Moka hugs him too and rubs his back.
"Little Niko, you know you always have my support. Everyone can make a mistake, even a big one like yours, but everyone should have the possibility to remedy, if they're willing to"
"Thank you, you're a dear friend"
"I know you, little Niko, you're a good boy". Phinny smiles. "Now, it's better I get back to work, and you too" he says, winking and waving. Phinny waves too and the elf goes away. Phinny comes back to his desk and Amy looks at him smiling.
A little time later, Phinny and Amy are chatting while writing and pinning cards.
"So, Phinny, how is being Santa's son? Christmases must have been awesome here" she asks. He glances at her.
"Uhm, actually, he always worked the whole day"
"Ah, right"
"And during the year, he was always busy with the factory, the toys, the reindeers,..."
"Oh... But there surely was the Christmas spirit here"
"Yeah, well... But at times I wanted to spend a normal Christmas, you know? On the 25th, my father was always tired and spent the whole day sleeping. I just used to stay with the elves, who were pretty joyful and drunk on that day"
"What about your mother? She doesn't stay here?". Phinny looks down sad.
"I don't have a mother, I never had. And if I do, I don't know her"
"Oh, I'm sorry... I made the wrong question" she tells, sad.
"Don't worry. I used to ask myself who my mother was but now I got habit to not knowing it. I think I'll never know". She looks down, not actually knowing how to cheer him up.
"So, Santa is an absent father. I would have never imagined it!" she exclaims and he looks up smiling.
"Yeah. He was present for all kids except me. So I decided I wanted to live like all the normal boys. I decided to go to New York and finally meet people, and not just making friends with elves and reindeers" he laughs a bit. "Margy came with me because dad wasn't so sure about letting me go alone. 'You are the heir of the family' " he tells, changing his voice "'You must carry on the family tradition' " he chuckles a bit then. "Every Christmas night, he passed by at my house in New York and that was the only time of the year when I saw him"
"It must have been difficult"
"Yes and no. Yes, because I am a bit out of place there, and no because I made a lot of good friends". She smiles at him and he smiles back. She sits closer to him and slowly gets closer, finally kissing him. He kisses her too for some seconds when they hear someone coughing in front of them. They stay frozen for an instant and Phinny turns his eyes to the elf standing in front of them. Phinny quickly moves back and looks a bit embarrassed. The elf is looking frowning at him and with folded arms. He surely wasn't one of the elves in his favour.
"We finished our job" he says with a high voice "if you're not busy, I imagine you can go now"
"Yeah, yeah, sure... Uhm, thanks" he replies and the elf goes away. Amy and Phinny exchange a look and then start laughing lowly.
Phinny and Amy quickly come back to Amy's house to tell her parents she's spending Christmas with her friend Phinny and then start going around delivering presents. For most of US kids, they just go to a post office and send the present. They visit a lot of post offices and the employees always look at them a bit confused. Where the mail serfice can't work, they go house by house, using Phinny's teleport abilities. They sneak into the houses, where they can't be seen, and leave the presents there. The kids suddenly find the presents under the tree and happily go and open them. Finding Santa's card and explanation for the late, they are even happier than usual. They got a card from Santa Claus! Phinny peeks behind a corner and observes happy to the scene, then he and Amy disappear again. They distribute all the presents in time, the ones sent by mail reach the houses the same day or the next day, therefore Phinny and Amy preferred the good old version. Still, receiving Santa's gift by mail must have been an usual way. They finish before it's due time and Phinny takes Amy back home.
"It hasn't been a completely disastrous Christmas, hasn't it?" she asks him once in. He smiles a bit, he's tired with all this teleporting around..
"Yeah, at least we fixed this. Thank you" he says, smiling as wide as he can.
"Do you think your father will change his mind?"
"I don't know, but I feel the weight of this job, you know? It's a big responsibility but also it's my family's business. I'd feel worse if I were the only one in the family who can't do this"
"I see. Well, at least you don't have to get down the chimneys" she jokes.
"From tomorrow you'll be my classmate again?"
"Uhm, maybe even something more, but without teleporting. Just a normal guy" he smiles.

Phinny gets back home and quickly heads toward his bedroom. Margy intercepts him and tries to stop him.
"Niko! How did it go?" she shouts.
"Fine. But I'm really tired now" he replies.
"Don't you want a gingerbread biscuit?" she asks showing him a tray of hot biscuits. He smiles.
"Not now, maybe later, when I'll wake up from lethargy" he tells and goes to his room. He goes to sleep without even taking off his shoes and there he stays, sleeping 'til the next day, at late morning. The next morning, he hears voices calling him.
"Nicholas! Nicholas!! Come on, wake up!" Margy says, shaking him. He groans and slowly wakes up, blinking at her confused with his blue eyes. His hair are all messy by the long sleep.
"What's going on?" he asks.
"It's lunch time and you're still in bed" she says with a scolding tone.
"What?" he yawns, reaching for his clock. "Oh yeah, you're right. Hell, I was exhausted". Margy pats him in the back of his head and he looks confused.
"Speak better, as it is convenient to Santa Claus' son!". He looks at her a bit frowning. "Your phone has been ringing all day"
"Mm, I'll check it now" he says, rolling around while she goes away. It's Amy that was searching for him and was a bit worried. He explains he went in some kind of deep sleep because of tiring his mind that much the previous day with the teleport. He's texting when his hands start tingling again. Recognizing the symptoms, he hurries to send the text and then disappears. When Margy comes back to search for him, he's not there anymore.
Phinny arrives into his father's office, right sitting in an armchair in front of him.
"Hi, dad..." he tells, a bit uncomfortable because of the quick change of scenario.
"I heard how it went and what you did. I must say that I'm happy you managed and this ended up like this" he says, still in a serious tone. Phinny doesn't know if he should smile or just do nothing. "I think you learned your lessons and you're always my son, so I think you should know I want to trust you again. In the future year, you'll grow up even more and I expect you to be even more conscientious. Next year will be better and I think this is what you should do now, unless you make me change my mind in the meanwhile". Phinny smiles.
"Thank you dad. I learned it, I learned it as soon as it happened that I made a mistake, but I can assure you this won't happen again". His phone rings, Santa looks down at Phinny's phone in his hands.
"Uhm..." he says.
"Is that girl?" Santa asks. Phinny takes a look at the screen.
"You know my elves tell me everything, right?" he says, raising an eyebrow.
"Well,... I'm a normal guy most of the year, right?"
"Most of it, but more precious than all the others" he ends, smiling and Phinny smiles too.
When he comes back home, he tells Amy how it went and that he's in again for his job. She's absolutely happy it ended well and Margy is happy too, she loves that boy at the end and wouldn't have liked going away and leaving him. After Christmas holidays end, Phinny gets back to school and everything starts again like usual, with him arriving late at school and grabbing donuts at the last minute.


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