Warning: this Christmas one-shot is beautiful and Christmassy but also very heartbreaking, and I know of at least one instance where this one-shot induced tears in someone. If you're afraid it'll ruin your Christmas, it might be a good idea to wait a few days.
Have fun reading!
Dear Santa, Adrian wrote with his tongue sticking out of his mouth – a good indicator that the eight year-old was very busy with something. In this case, writing a letter. It's Easter, so I hope I don't wake you. But to be honest, what I'm asking you to do takes a bit of time.
My sister, Rianne, has always been very ill: according to my mum, she's in a lot of pain and she probably won't grow very old.
Now, I don't want any gifts for Christmas, because they're all boring and I'll throw them away after a while anyway. What I want you to do is for my sister to be cured for Christmas.
I know I'm asking too much of you to cure her for forever… but I just want her to be better for one day, so that we can do all kinds of fun things together with mummy and daddy. And I want that day to be Christmas.
Please, Santa? Can you grant my wish? I promise I will be good for the entire year. And if it's still too hard for you, I promise I will be good for the rest of my life. I just want one day, okay?
Hope to hear from you soon,
Once Adrian had written his letter, he looked at it again to make sure he didn't say stupid things in there. He wasn't sure whether Santa was a very formal person, or preferred informal notes. Of course, he had met Santa more than once – but he had always looked the same, and last time, Adrian had noticed that he did look a lot like uncle Max… So Adrian had begun to wonder if uncle Max was pretending to be Santa all along, and the real Santa had skipped their home for a while. So what did the real Santa look like? And was he a very formal person, or was he the fat laughing man, with a beard, that he always saw in the Coca Cola-commercials?
After some hesitation, he decided to add a note to the letter. P.S. And please, if you want to fulfill my wish, come in person. The trick of sending uncle Max is getting a bit old.
Adrian had already asked for an envelope before he had begun with the letter. He now put the letter in the envelope and wrote, in big all-caps, 'The North Pole'.
Once he had done that, he ran downstairs.
"Dad! Dad! Dad!" He shouted while he ran down the stairs with all the enthusiasm of an eight year-old.
"What is it, little guy?" his father asked once Adrian was in the living room, where his father was busy cleaning. He had just turned off the vacuumcleaner.
"Can you please post this?" Adrian asked and handed his envelope to his dad.
"Of course," his father replied as he turned the envelope. "The North Pole? What is this?"
"It's my Christmas list," Adrian replied, a little flustered.
"Christmas list? But it's only Easter!" his father said surprised.
"Just post it, okay?" Adrian said as he looked at the floor.
"Okay, little guy," his father responded as he went through Adrian's hair with one hand, "I'll post it. Don't you worry."
"Thanks, dad," he laughed and ran back upstairs.
He was just about to head back into his room when he saw Rianne sit down on the floor, simply looking down sadly. Adrian saw her trying to stretch out to something, and failing.
"Oh, Rianne," he said as he entered her room. "Do you want to sit down on your bed?"
"Yes," she replied, a tear in her left eye, and Adrian lifted her. He was a big and strong boy: mummy had said so. What also helped, was that Rianne was only six years old and didn't eat much. It was too difficult for her.
It had something to do with her disease, apparently, something with her muscles.
"There you go. Anything else?"
"No," her soft voice said. "Thank you."
"It's no problem," Adrian said as he kissed his sister on the cheek. "It's all going to be all right, I promise."
"Mum! Dad!" Adrian shouted enthusiastically when he had opened the door of the master bedroom. "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" He bounced up and down.
"Ugh…" his mother said, stretching herself, hoarse of sleeping. "What time is it?"
"Already six AM! Come on! Get up, get out! You've been sleeping for too long!"
Adrian's father groaned and put his pillow over his face, but Adrian pulled it off as soon as he saw what his father was doing. "Come on!" The kid shouted enthusiastically, "get out of bed! So much fun today!"
"Where's Rianne?" Adrian's mother said.
"Downstairs," the boy said, "still in her bedroom. I wanted her to stay asleep. Now come on, wake up!" He said, even pulling an arm.
"Why are you so excited today?" Adrian's father asked.
Adrian just looked at his dad as if he was stupid. "Because Santa's coming by today, of course!"
"Oh, right. It's Christmas today," his father said. "I remember."
"Then let's get out," his wife said, her legs already out of the bed. "Let's redress and shower."
"So we can all welcome Santa?" Adrian asked.
"Yeah," his mother said and ruffled through his dark hair with a sleepy look. "So we can welcome Santa."
"Yay!" Adrian laughed as he ran down, excitedly – and then, halfway, caught himself and snuck down the stairs. He didn't want to awake Rianne.
Adrian snuck down the other stairs, still as silent as silent could be, and he opened the door to the living room, ever so quietly.
As soon as he opened the door, Molly greeted him with her tail raised highly, and she rubbed her head against Adrian's legs. Adrian knew she wouldn't relent until she got attention, so he bent and stroked her, rubbing her ear. Molly immediately purred.
"Hello, Molly, mummy and daddy will give you food today, okay?" Molly said nothing, simply nuzzling against him, and when Adrian stood up, she pranced around his legs.
The boy shook his head. He wasn't going to come here for Molly. He walked at the Christmas tree with solely one purpose. To check out the presents that were under the tree. He hadn't been downstairs yet – once he had woken up, he had ran immediately to the master bedroom. Only now did he have an opportunity to check out the gifts.
He checked the name-tags: there were plenty of presents. The first name-tag he checked had his father's name on it, and the second one the name of his sister. But he kept checking, until…
Adrian's facial expression changed rapidly, from a happy one to a sad one, once he had discovered a present with his name-tag on it. And another one. And another one. He estimated the number of presents to be around ten.
A normal kid would've been happy with that discovery, happy with the gifts he had received. But Adrian sat down on the floor, the tears appearing in his eyes as he resisted the urge to cry.
Didn't you hear me, Santa? I don't want this! I've been good for the entire year! One year being good wasted like this?! I don't WANT gifts! They're all just stupid! I want my sister to be cured for one day! He cried in his mind, becoming very angry at the gifts that were lying there. He wanted to throw them around the room really badly, when Molly interrupted his thoughts. Adrian felt her head being bumped at his elbow; she was waiting for more attention.
Absent-mindedly, Adrian stroked Molly's head and simply stared at the presents before standing up and slumping to the bathroom. His bright blue eyes now looked sad, and everything in his attitude showed that all his enthusiasm had drained away.
He walked up the stairs, half-heartedly trying to remain silent, and once he had opened the door, he let himself fall on his bed and cried while staring at the ceiling.
Did Santa, maybe, fail to get his letter?
"Hey, little kid," Adrian heard, and he looked at his door to find his father standing there. "Shower's been free a while now, you know?"
"I don't care," Adrian said. He had stopped sobbing now, but he still wasn't feeling too well. "I've been good for the entire year, and now, Santa won't come and me being good was for nothing."
"Ah," his father said, and he walked into his son's room, standing at his bed. "Who says Santa won't come?"
"Because he didn't get my Christmas list. I know it."
"And why do you think that?" His father sounded confused when he asked that. Adrian finally looked at his father.
"I just know, okay?" Adrian didn't want to explain his Christmas wish to his father. He'd just laugh at him, Adrian knew it. He didn't want to admit that he cared so much for his sister.
"You mean the Christmas list you gave to me at Easter?" his father asked.
"Uh-huh," Adrian said, sadly.
"Maybe Santa did get it," he said. "You'll never know. Come on, get up and shower. You'll have to be clean at Christmas. Santa wouldn't want you to smell."
Adrian sighed. "Okay," he said and got out of bed.
You mean uncle Max, he thought, and he was about to say it when he bit on his tongue. He didn't want his father to know that uncle Max was pretending to be Santa. Though he didn't know why.
And, still sad, he got under the shower and cleaned himself.
Once he was done, and he had redressed himself into normal clothes, he and his parents gathered woke his sister up. It was all part of the ritual – they would wake up first, and then they'd wake up the sickly Rianne, because she sometimes couldn't get out of bed herself. Fortunately, she could stand up just fine so far, though.
When that was done, they went downstairs. Adrian's father was downstairs first. "Okay, who wants to pick a Christmas present first?" he said enthusiastically. That was part of their Christmas tradition – everyone was allowed to open one present at breakfast, and one at lunch, and the rest at dinner. And normally, Adrian would be the most eager to open a present and normally, he'd want to open one at first – but he just shrugged.
"I don't need to open one," he said. "I'll just wait until after dinner."
"What?!" he heard his mother say. "But normally…"
"Just let him be," Adrian's father said. "Rianne? Do you want to open your present?"
"Oh, yes, that would be nice," she said, and she walked to the Christmas tree, choosing a present for herself.
"Come on, Adrian," his mother said, not relenting. "Just pick a present, okay? I'm sure Santa really did his best on the presents."
"I don't care," Adrian mumbled.
"Come on. Don't you want to know what's in the presents? Don't you want to know what Santa picked for you?" She said as she gently nudged Adrian. "Especially that big present over there looks really interesting, and you know what, I'm sure Santa spent a lot of money on it. Don't you want to…"
Deep down inside, Adrian felt a bit of curiosity bubble up to the surface and he felt himself getting more curious by the second. A stab of pain did hit him in the chest as he saw Rianne having difficulties in picking up her gift.
Santa didn't cure her for today.
Adrian decided to ignore it. He sighed and decided he'd try to act very grown-up. "Okay, then," he reluctantly said. "I'll just check a present. But only one."
"That's fine, kid," Adrian's father said.
Adrian walked to the biggest present. He felt it, and he already had a hunch. He opened it up, and his hunch was confirmed: it was a big teddybear, especially for him, because he had wanted one for a very long time.
Right until then, because Adrian didn't feel too happy with it. As he watched his sister, she opened her gift – it was a Barbie doll.
"You happy with it, Rianne?" Adrian's father asked, and Rianne's smile beamed off her face.
"Yes! Yes! Thank you so much, Santa!" She said enthusiastically, and Adrian managed to smile along weakly.
But Santa didn't get my letter.
Adrian spent most of Christmas downstairs, not really feeling very enthusiastic about anything. At lunch, he opened his second gift – a book for children – and, while he was happy about it, it just didn't cut it, in his head. Rianne got a cushion as her second present.
Briefly after lunch, somebody knocked on the door. "Who is that?" Adrian's father said to Adrian. "Go check it out!"
As curious as ever, Adrian walked to the door and found, to his surprise, Santa Claus standing there.
"Hello there, Adrian!" Santa said, but Adrian only had to inspect him briefly.
"You're uncle Max," he replied, and was just about to turn back when he nearly stumbled upon his parents, followed by his sister.
"No? I'm not uncle Max," he said. "I'm just Santa Claus. And I'm here to give you a great day today."
"You're uncle Max," Adrian persisted, not giving the proclaimed Santa Claus a second look. "You can just drop the fake beard, I've seen through your act."
"That's not uncle Max," Adrian's father said. "That's Santa Claus. It's been every year, don't you see?"
"Oh please," Adrian sighed, unhappy. "I…" before Adrian could say another thing, though, he felt the cellphone of his mother being pressed to his ear, and he was just about to hit it off when he suddenly heard a very familiar voice on the other side of the line.
"Hello Adrian, how are you doing?"
It was the voice of uncle Max, and Adrian gasped and turned around to see Santa still standing there, laughing. "I got your letter," Santa laughed, and Adrian felt tears well up in his eyes of happiness. So Santa did get his letter after all?
"Hello… hello uncle Max," Adrian stuttered. "I… I just called to say hi. And now I'm going to hang up, bye," he said and pressed the red button so he could hang up. "Are you really Santa?"
"Uh-huh," the fat man laughed. "I know what your greatest wish is. And guess what? I'm here to fulfill it."
"You're Santa," Adrian laughed again. "You're Santa!" He repeated, and he ran to Santa Claus in all his enthusiasm. Santa picked him up and hugged him close to him, and just to make sure of it, Adrian pulled at Santa's beard. It didn't seem to come off.
"Yes, I am Santa," Santa Claus said. "And today, I'm going to give you and your sister a great day."
Santa had arranged everything. Once he had put him down, it turned out he had arranged a limousine to ride in front of the house. When Adrian asked where it came from, Santa simply replied that there were times where he'd get tired of the sleigh, and he needed a limousine then too. They even had a driver. Everything was very luxurious, and when Adrian asked where they were going, the driver simply replied with a smile that it was a secret. Their parents were allowed to have a seat too. Adrian, of course, sat next to his sister. Santa sat in the front seat, next to the driver.
"Are you feeling all right?" He asked.
"My body hurts a bit," Rianne replied, stroking over her arms. "But I'm feeling very good. And you?"
"Feeling very fine too, now that Santa is going to fulfill my greatest wish," he bounced up and down with happiness.
"And that is?" Rianne asked with curiosity.
"You want to know my greatest wish?" He asked.
"Yes," she replied. "I want to know."
"My greatest wish was that you were cured for one day so that we could have a great time together," he laughed. He'd expect Rianne to look kind, to be happy, or at least to be pleased.
But all she did was look outside with a sad look in her eyes.
"That would be very nice…" was all she said.
To Adrian's big surprise, once they arrived, they turned out to be at the entrance of Disneyland. Once he stepped out, he looked around with his mouth wide open because of the shock as he helped his sister to get out of the car.
"Wow," he said, ever so surprised, and he gasped as he recognized the entrance easily. He had been here earlier, but that was only with one of his parents – every time they had planned to come here, Rianne was bedridden.
"Normally, Disneyland is closed at Christmas, but today, we're keeping it open especially so we can fulfill your greatest wish, Adrian," Santa laughed as he got out of the car. "Today, you and Rianne are going to have a great day. And guess what? Entrance is free!"
Adrian gasped as he considered all the possibilities – now, finally, he could go into all these attractions with his sister, and she felt fairly well for the first time since years! They could… they could go everywhere, because Disneyland was huge! And it was all just for the four of them alone!
Barely able to wait, he started running with his hand in Rianne's – and corrected himself just in time, since Rianne didn't like to run. But, with all his enthusiasm, he walked into the park nevertheless.
"Where are we going in first?"
They visited all the attractions they had time for, and Adrian and his sister were truly inseparable. Adrian grabbed Rianne's hand firmly and didn't let go of it for the rest of the day. If his sister refused to get in something, then Adrian refused too, and he didn't let Rianne go far away even once. They went into most of the exciting rollercoasters where they were both allowed in – though their father refused once, for some reason – and Adrian was having the time of his life.
He wasn't sure if his sister felt the same way, and that worried him – he was scared that maybe, his sister wasn't enjoying herself, while the day was entirely meant to be hers.
About halfway through their visit, they both visited the ghost mansion. It had carts for two people, so Adrian and Rianne took the first one and their parents took place in the one behind them. And, as the skeletons and ghosts and vampires desperately tried to scare them, Adrian said something.
"Are you having fun?" He asked, and immediately, a skeleton popped up from behind a corner. Rianne screamed out of fear, and laughed just after that – so Adrian asked a second question. "Are you scared?"
Rianne smiled at him and scooted a bit closer. "Yes, and no. Because I have you with me."
The rest of the day was terrific, for both Rianne and him, and they had the time of their lives. When they were going back, they all thanked Santa – Adrian in his enthusiastic manner, Rianne with a laugh and bouncing up and down a bit too, and his parents very formally. Adrian heard them say something about a company for volunteers, but he didn't pay attention as he ran inside, prepared to open his presents – they felt a lot more exciting and interesting now, after such an amazing day.
As soon as they were inside, Adrian opened his last present with about the best self-control a nine year-old could have: he tore the paper off all his gifts before his parents could even get in, and his sister followed his example soon enough.
"Hey hey hey, why are you so enthusiastic?" Adrian's father asked as soon as they were in the living room too. "But you're right, it's time for us to open our gifts," he said, and to Adrian's surprise, he joined his children in tearing off the gift paper. Adrian's mother did the same.
When it was time for them to fall asleep, they felt giddy and happy with their new gifts, and Adrian had one last request to his parents.
"Can I… just for tonight… if Rianne doesn't mind… can I sleep next to her? Just for tonight, can we move my bed to Rianne's room?"
Fortunately, their doorways were big, so that assignment was done easily and before they knew it, Adrian and Rianne were lying in their beds. Adrian had entwined his hand with Rianne again as they looked at the ceiling and talked about that day.
Adrian was determined to stay awake longer than Rianne. He felt he had a duty to watch over his younger sister, so he did, but after a while, sleep got to him and Adrian decided he'd probably not stay awake for much longer.
They closed off the conversation with Adrian asking the same question.
"Did you like today?" He asked, still his hand in Rianne's.
Rianne turned her head so she faced him and she laughed.
"Why are you laughing?" Adrian asked, a little bit upset.
Rianne smiled as soon as she was done laughing.
"I'm so glad you're my brother."
Author's Note: Okay, I know, Disneyland is probably not closed at Christmas. Let's call it artistic license, okay?
I hope you loved the one-shot – I started writing it at Christmas last year with a deleted scene from Love Actually as my inspiration. Tell me what you thought – did you think it was beautiful? Sad? Christmassy? Please, let me know what you think.
Also, I really really hope you'll have a great Christmas and an awesome 2013! I hope to see you again soon!^^