As we took off, I could still see Laura's face. ‘I didn’t want to be a stupid angel. I wanted to be an elf. It’s not fair, mummy.’
Why is there so much traffic tonight? Of course. Late night shopping. Every man and his dog will be at the shops. ‘Well, sweetie. We don’t always get what we want. That’s life.’
‘Mummy. Where is my angel dress? I am the head angel, you know.’ There was a head angel? Who knew?
I narrowly missed having a collision with a maniac running a red light. ‘Well, there you go, darling. Who wants to be a silly elf when you can be the most important angel?’ Glancing in the rear vision mirror, it was clear Bella wasn’t convinced.
‘Do you have my angel dress?’ Another erratic driver almost side swiped us, changing lanes without checking his blind spot. I was wondering if we would make it there alive. Talking about guardian angels, if we had one, they were clearly watching over us.
‘Mummy hasn’t had time to get it yet, baby girl, but I will soon. I promise.’ Oh my god, it is a dress rehearsal. Would have been nice to get a heads up. Was there an email that I missed?
Nina greeted me in the doorway. ‘Hi Molly. Thanks for helping. We are about to start. Get Bella changed and she can take her place on the left next to Isla there.’
‘About that. I haven’t had time to get a costume yet. Sorry.’
‘I sent a memo out. Did you not see it?’ Clearly not.
‘Mummy, I need to go to the toilet.’ We made our way to the bathroom. ‘Isla’s mum made her costume. Can you make mine, so we are the same?’
I helped Bella with her pants, reminded her to wash her little hands, and took a deep breath. ‘Life would be very boring, sweetie, if we all looked the same. Now, let’s get you up on that stage.’
Nina shoved a crumpled piece of paper in my hand and asked me to follow the instructions. It seemed to be a map of some sort telling me the kid’s places on the stage for act one. I turned around and she had disappeared.
OK. I can do this. How hard can it be? ‘OK kids, listen up. Can I please have all the gingerbread men to the right, all the angels to the left, and all of Santa’s little helpers down the front. Mr and Mrs Claus, you can also come down the front. Reindeers up the back please.’
The noise was deafening. No one was listening. It was like I was screaming into a void. ‘Mary, Joseph and the three wise men, you can leave the stage. You are not on until act two. I will let you know.’ The five kids scrambled from the stage, knocking over the manger as they went. ‘Be careful. Try not to kill poor baby Jesus.’
A gingerbread man had wet his pants, two angels were fighting, one elf was trying to rip the arms off poor baby Jesus, Mr and Mrs Claus seemed as though they were heading straight for divorce, and Rudolf was screaming the place down because he had lost his nose.
It seemed Nina had gone AWOL. ‘I’m sure she will return. Shall we get started?’ Who said that?
A teacher who was sitting at the piano in the very corner of the hall started to play, and it was like watching all the jigsaw puzzle pieces fall into place. Are you kidding me? The kids all took their places and act one fell into place.
It was a dance routine to ‘It’s the Most Wonderful time of the Year.’ Is it? Nina suddenly appeared beside me. ‘What the hell happened to the manger?’
‘A stampede. And if you are wondering what happened to baby Jesus, ask the evil little elf over there?’
Unpublished Work (c) Hayley Walsh 2022