“Mummy, will I get presents for Christmas?”
Sarah looked at her eight-year-old with a lump in her throat.
“Darling, the café sales haven’t been good because of the pandemic. I don’t think we can afford anything this year.”
“Won’t Santa magically take care of the gifts?”
Sarah tried to hold back her tears.
“Lily, I have to tell you a secret. Santa isn’t real, sweetheart.”
“Don’t cry, Mummy. Daddy is watching from heaven!”
The doorbell sounded. An old man with a paunch, chubby cheeks, and snowy beard entered.
“I would like a spiced cocoa!”
Sarah went inside the kitchen to prepare the beverage as Lily leaned against the counter.
“You look like Santa Claus!”
The stranger grinned.
“I get that a lot. What are you doing this Christmas?”
“Nothing much. We don’t have any money. Magic and Santa don’t exist.”
“Young lady, magic is something you make. Oh! What is that over there?”
“That’s a Christmas-tree painting. We have had it for years.”
“It’s very valuable! Will you sell it to me?”
“I need to ask Mummy.”
“I’m sure she won’t mind.”
The stranger leaned over the mantlepiece and lifted off the dusty painting. Muttering ‘priceless masterpiece’ under his breath, he handed Lily an envelope. Before she could call her mother, he disappeared.
Sarah was bewildered by Lily’s story. When she saw the amount in the envelope, her eyes almost fell out of their sockets. Was this magic?
Anderson heard a strange tale from his wife. Someone had purchased a painting from their neighbour Sarah, an hour ago.
“He paid her five hundred pounds!” she gushed.
Anderson was an avid art lover. He had been to Sarah’s café before but had never noticed this painting. If this was indeed the work of a reputed artist, it would be valued at much more. Sarah had been robbed. Typical of someone to take advantage of a young widow.
Lost in his thoughts, Anderson collided with an elderly man. He helped him up and apologized profusely. That’s when he saw what was in his hand. The painting of a Christmas tree! So, this was the art connoisseur.
“Sir, did you purchase this artwork from the café down the road?”
“May I take a look? I demand you pay Sarah the right value of the painting. Else, I will call the police!”
The old man seemed amused. He handed him the painting. Anderson paled. One look at it, and he knew.
“This is barely worth a pound! It’s a cheap imitation.”
The man was unfazed.
“I think I’m alright. Merry Christmas!”
Lily stared out of the window. The snow had coated the ground, making it a winter wonderland. It was good to see Mummy smile after such a long time. Perhaps, magic did exist.
The old man got into his vehicle. Of late, his job had become easier with Amazon delivery. Time to go home. He keyed in his coordinates onto the GPS.
90° N. The North Pole.
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