|« PREV||INDEX||NEXT »|
|The first thing a person would notice about Grace Presbyterian Orphanage is it's size. The whole structure is a looming mansion, probably about one hundred years old. It is also home to about fifty orphans, boys and girls, and several kind and caring caretakers. The orphanage had a very good repuatation, and it had earned it. Still, it was an orphanage, and there was a pall of sadness always around it, simply because these children did not have any parents to take care of them.
Miss Chism was the always the nurturing, maternal type. When she took over the orphanage, she immediately went about learning all the children's names and what they liked. She wrote down all this information and kept it in a very neat and tidy file drawer in her office. Every year, when the local Presbyterian Church would hold a gift drive for the orphans, she would use this information to determine what latest craze a child would like. It always worked perfectly. But there was always one child who didn't want anything. He was as happy and normal as the rest, but whenever Miss Chism would ask what he wanted, he'd say "Well...nothing. You can't give me what I want." Miss Chism always assumed this meant a family, and would explain to Dylan that very soon someone would come and adopt him.
But a family wasn't what Dylan wanted. Sure, he'd take one, but it wasn't #1 on his wish list. Christmas was almost here. Miss Chism always wanted the children to have hope, to believe in something, so she'd always convince them of Santa's existence. Every year she'd put "all" the presents under the tree, and the children would see them and assume that was everything. But then, she and her assistants would sneak down and put MORE gifts under the tree, then plead the fifth when the children asked when they came from. Thus, to everyone in the Orphanage, Santa was real. Even to Dylan.
But this year, the kids had been an exceptionally well behaved, and Santa was planning a stop at Grace. The stars were aligned for Dylan. He had no idea how lucky he was going to be.
It was Christmas Eve, about 11:30 at night. The children were all in bed, but not asleep, of course. Eyes wide awake, staring at the ceiling.
One bed was empty.
Dylan had climbed out of his window - breaking almost every rule in the process - and had perched himself on the Widow's Walk of the house. No one had been up there for years, it was obvious. He shivered at the December cold, pulled his jacket up around him, and waited in eager anticipation.
Minutes ticked by. Hours soon did too.
It was about 1 AM when he heard a light rustling of the wind. It had just picked up without warning. Then, a faint rustling of bells reached his ears. A grin split across his eight-year-old face and he spun around.
There was nothing there.
*SLAM!!!* Santa's sleigh landed right where Dylan wasn't looking. Santa obviously did not see the young boy, because there was no acknowledgement of his existence. Dylan couldn't wait any longer.
Santa Claus gave a little cry and whirled around.
"What?! What?? Who's there? Who - Dylan!"
Dylan was so excited. He knew his name.
"He-hello, sir. I - I've been, uh, waiting for you."
Santa smiled. "Have you now? You must want something extra special. Let me look at the list."
Dylan held his breath, and then made a quizzical expression when Santa pulled out a small PDA from his bag.
"Times are changing, boy!" Santa laughed at his inquisitiveness. "No more books for me...I can just type in your name instead of searching!" There was a light scratching sound as the stylus wrote, and then... "Well, it seems you've been -" Dylan held his breath. "Good!" Santa and Dylan both smiled. "Now, what do you want, son?"
Dylan looked both directions and walked up to Santa, then decided not to say it in a normal voice. He leaned to Santa's left ear and whispered: "I want to be a grown up."
Santa didn't say anything. He just looked at Dylan. "Are you sure? Many children want to be. Can you handle it?" Dylan nodded. "Oh yes sir! I'll be a very good grown up! I'll pay bills and go to work and everything!"
Santa smiled. "Okay. But here's the deal, if I give this gift to you, you have to help me deliver gifts tonight." Dylan didn't hesitate. "Yes! I will! But - Santa?" "Yes?" Dylan blushed. "I, uh, don't want to grow up all at once. It sounds painful. Can I grow up slowly, like, um..." Santa smiled. He knew the words Dylan was searching for. "Yes, my boy. I can do that. How about a year every hour?" That sounded good to Dylan, and he agreed. Santa extended his hand. "Let's shake on it." Dylan touched Santa's big hand, and suddenly felt lighter, happier. A bright light shone all around them for a split second, then vanished.
Santa smiled. "Climb in, before you grow up - and don't look like an elf anymore." They both laughed, and Dylan stepped in. Immediately, they were off. They saw New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and many other cities in just an hour. Dylan looked in the mirror. His shoes didn't fit as well, and his snow pants were an inch above the Nikes. He smiled. "Looks like it's working, Santa. Let's keep going!" The big man smiled, and the reindeer continued.
All through the night they delivered. It was about five AM before Dylan looked in the mirror for a second time. He was wearing new clothes from Santa. His eyes were greeted by a now teenaged face, probably about fifteen. A light mustache was above his lip, and his feet were now to size twelves. The brown hair on his head had darkened to jet black, as had his eyebrows. His eyes had shifted from blue to brown, and he had grown eight inches. His face was cracky when he spoke. He was obviously in the thick of puberty. "Let's..." he still hadn't gotten used to his new voice. "Let's continue!" Bigger words were beginning to creep into his expanding vocabulary.
They continued to deliver to Europe - Paris, London, Brussels. He looked in the mirror three hours later and gasped. He had grown from an awkward teenager into a very handsome young man. His brown eyes sparkled, and his now adult voice was a smooth baritone. His hands were large and smooth, his feet were size fourteens now, fully grown, and he was six-foot-three. He was clean shaven, but could feel bristles when he rubbed his chin. His teeth had straightened and whitened as he had aged, and his long face had filled out and become a healthy, round one. He had a very strong jaw line. His body was well-defined as well - he had a cut chest and arms, broad, strong shoulders, and musceled legs with healthy calves. The thick, long hair on his head had been blown back by the acceleration of the sleigh, and it looked pretty good like that. He turned to Santa and smiled. "Are we finished?"
Santa smiled. "Not yet, Dylan. We deliver until about noon your time, because of time zones. But anyway - you'll be fully grown, and we'll be done."
The gifts kept rolling out of the sleigh, magically. Sydney. Nairobi. Rio de Janeiro. No place was left unvisited.
The sleigh rocketed back to the orphanage and stopped in front. Dylan pulled down the mirror one last time.
A fully adult face was there. The strong features of a fit twenty-seven year old man had formed. No longer a gawky teenager, or a jocky college student. He looked like a male model; a Greek god. Dylan turned to Santa. He asked, "Was I always going to look like this? Or did you help me along?" Santa smiled. "Son, I didn't do anything but accelerate what nature intended. But there's one more thing to do. Turn around." Dylan turned and looked at the orphanage. The orphanage sign disappeared, the old dusty bricks glistened, and the whole house seemed to change into a modern bachelor pad.
"There you go, Dylan. Welcome home."
Dylan was numb. He couldn't believe what had happened. All he could say was, "Thank you...so...much..." He gasped again and turned, giving Santa a big hug. Santa laughed, that jolly laugh. "Just wait for me up there if you need anything else." He pointed at the newly refurbished balcony. Dylan stepped out, waved goodbye, and smiled his new, bright smile. Then he walked into the house, and began his new life.
|« PREV||INDEX||NEXT »|
This collection was originally created as a compressed archive for personal offline viewing
and is not intended to be hosted online or presented in any commercial context.
Any webmaster choosing to host or mirror this archive online
does so at their sole discretion.
Archive Version 070326