The Twelve Days of Christmas:
A Christmastide Tale in Twelve Instalments. With Elves.
The First Day of Christmas
If you think that elves are small, cute, cheerful creatures with pointy ears, green hats, and jingle bells on the hems of their shirts, do yourself a favour: think again. Mind you, I can understand how you would come to such a conclusion, especially at this time of year—even our small town has a Santa in front of the grocery store with those little green guys flocking around him, luring small children to sit on his knee. Luring them—that’s about the only way in which the cheesy Christmas elves resemble the real thing.
I don’t know if it would have helped Tom any if he had known what elves are really like, that Christmas Eve he disappeared.
Tom Rimer is—well, was—my boyfriend. We had made tentative plans for him to pick me up from my place so we could go up the valley to spend Christmas Eve with my family; on Christmas Day he was on the early shift in Lord’s Mine.
He didn’t show up. I wasn’t too surprised—Tom’s a good guy, but not the most punctual; he tends to lose track of time.
However, when half an hour after he was supposed to have been there he was still a no-show with no communication on whether he was coming or not, I was getting a little miffed. After an hour, I was fuming. I’d tried calling him about three times, but the cell reception isn’t the best around here, so I didn’t get through.
I reached for my phone one more time and was just starting to type out yet another irate message, when my phone pinged and a text from Tom popped up on my screen.
“12 days xmas” it said, “has 2B the whole thi”
“else I’m stuck here”
Say what? Tom is prone to being cryptic with his texting, but this was a bit much.
“???” I texted back, then, “Where r u?”
But there was no response—it was almost like I could hear the texts falling into the silence of an empty room. I gave up.
“Leaving without you,” I texted, “c u Saturday”
The next afternoon—Christmas Day—was when it started up.
“Look at this, Mac,” my mom called out, “come over here!”
I stepped over next to her by the living room window and looked out into the snow-covered yard. The Bosc pear tree still had a few forlorn brown fruits dangling from its highest branches where Dad hadn’t been able to reach them—plus, he always said, leave some for the critters, they need to live too.
In this case it looked like the critter in question was a small, round bird, perched on the spreading lower branches of the tree.
“That’s a big quail,” I said. “I didn’t know they like sitting in trees. And where’s the rest of the flock?”
“It’s not a quail,” Mom said, “it’s a partridge. Get it?”
Oh, cute. A partridge in a pear tree.
I reached for my cell, shook it to open the camera—it’s one of the features I like about that phone—snapped a picture, and texted it to Tom along with a pointed “See what you’re missing?”
I never got a response, but as I figured he was at work I wasn’t too worried. Unfortunately.
When I got home late that night, I found a message on the answering machine of my landline.
“Hey, this is Herb. Trying to get a hold of Tom; he didn’t show up for work today. Tell him to get in touch, would you?”
To be continued…