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Added to website: 14 July 2008

SALLY AND THE LOST PRESENT
A short story for children by Peter J. Bottomley

Sally woke up with a fright!
Had she been dreaming, or was it another school day and she had slept in? The alarm clock said 8.10am, but it didn’t say what day it was. Her brother James had bought her the alarm clock for a Christmas present last year, but it was not the one she had asked her mother to get. The one she wanted had the days of the week on it, because Sally could not remember what day it was when she woke up in the mornings, still half asleep.
“It’s 8.10am, but what day?” Sally said to herself as she laid there thinking about shouting out to ask Dad. What if it was a holiday? She did not want to wake the rest of the family up if it was not a school day. So she listened to see if she could hear James downstairs getting ready to go to school, but from her attic bedroom the front room was a long way down, so she crept down to listen. On the landing she met Dad.
“Boo!” he said, making her jump.
“Daaad! What day is it?” Sally asked quietly.
“Sunday! It’s not a school day and you finished for the Christmas holidays on Friday, so go back to bed and have a sleep in,” Dad answered, laughing, as he went downstairs.
Dad always got up early every day to go to work or to take James to football training or to a match at the weekends.
Sally went back up to her bedroom and got into bed, but she could not get back to sleep. Sunday, two days to Christmas Day, so this really was her last chance to buy Dad some new socks for a present, she thought to herself.
All his other socks looked old or had holes in them, Sally’s mum had said when Sally asked what to buy Dad for Christmas. So with the extra money Sally had for baby-sitting she could now afford to buy Dad some nice thick socks for the winter weather.
“Mum, can I come to Leeds with you?” Sally asked when she saw her mother later on at breakfast time.
“Yes, but do not expect me to pay for any more presents, I’ve spent enough this year,” Mum answered.
So later on that morning Sally and her mum set off to catch the Leeds train from Saltaire Station. At the station platform Sally met one of her school friends.
“Hello Helen, are you going to Leeds shopping?” said Sally to her friend.
“Yes, I am. I’ve got to get some last minute things for my mother; you know, smelly stuff,” Helen said.
“Well, we could go shopping together then meet up with my mum after lunch, eh?” Sally asked Helen.
“What a good idea. I don’t like shopping by myself in Leeds it’s such a big place, and you know more shops than me, because you can shop for England, so your mum told me last time I met her,” said Helen laughing together with Sally’s mum.
When the three arrived in Leeds they split up. Mum went one way and the two school friends went another.
“First of all it’s new socks for my dad,” Sally said to Helen.
At the Men’s department in the shopping mall there were lots of socks to choose from so the two girls decided on some sports socks and had them wrapped up by the assistant.
“She will do a better job at wrapping than me,” said Sally.
“Come on then, let’s go to the Corn Exchange. The shops there are great for young people,” said Helen, pulling Sally away from beneath a sign saying ‘clothes for the older man’.
At the Corn Exchange the two girls met up with some other friends from school and looked at clothes, make-up and jewellery, hoping that their Christmas presents were going to be like these things.
“Look at the time!” said Jenny, one of the girls Sally had met at the Corn Exchange. “I will have to go. It’s 1.30 and I am meeting my mother for lunch.
“Hey Sally, I like your boots. Did you nick them off an emo?” Jenny shouted as she went out of the shop.
“See you later. Have a nice Christmas, and don’t eat too much turkey,” Sally shouted at Jenny as she ran down the road.
“You know that she’s a veggie don’t you, Sally?” asked Helen.
“Yes, just having some fun. She gets at me over my choice of music and clothes, and she’ll get me back next time we meet – and I will be ready again!” said Sally sneakily.
“What about our lunch?” said Helen.
“Come on, lets get a cheese toasty at that corner shop, then we will have to meet up with my mum,” said Sally.
“Text her and see where she is, because I have to go to the book shop in Salts Mill back in Saltaire on the way home to pick up a present for my brother that I ordered,” said Helen.
On the way back to the train station, Sally got a call from her mum.
“Hello, Sally,” said Mum. “I’m having something to eat with a workmate in the fancy sandwich shop in the precinct, so if you want you can go home with Helen and I will see you later.”
“OK, Mum, see you,” Sally answered on her mobile phone.
“Great these Mobley things. They save a lot of time and leg work, as my dad says,” Sally added as they arrived at the train station.
“The train is at 3.15. Come on, Sally, we can just about make it if we run,” Helen said as she pulled Sally along.
“Don’t drop those sports socks, Sally, because they match your boots, big and fluffy!” Sally heard someone call out as she ran for the train.
“Don’t look round. Pretend you haven’t heard her, Helen,” Sally said as they got on the train.
“Who shouted it?” asked Helen.
“Jenny. I saw her in the shop as we ran past. I knew she would say something. Anyway, she’s missed the train, so I will call her on her mobile and we can have a laugh about it,” Sally explained to Helen as they sat down.
“It’s nice and warm in here,” said Helen.
“That’s it – warmth! I will call Jenny and get at her for missing the train and standing in the cold station waiting for the next one that’s about 45 minutes away…ha ha!” Sally grinned as she got out her phone.
“Hello, Sally,” said Jenny as she answered her mobile while standing at the ticket barrier.
“Hello, Jenny. Have you got those red gloves on? Because if you haven’t, your hands are going to be as red as your nose in this cold weather, waiting for the next train. Oh! By the way, it’s lovely and warm on this one, especially in my new boots. See you! Wrap up warm!”
“I think I’m winning at the moment with Jenny, but you never know when she will strike next, so I’m on my guard as she will try to get me before the New Year,” Sally said to Helen as the train passed through Thackley tunnel on its way to Saltaire.
At Saltaire the two girls got off and went to Salts Mill Book Shop to pick up the present. Inside the shop, while Jenny was waiting for the book to be brought from the store room, Sally went looking at all the books laid out on the benches. Sally was a good reader and liked to read in bed at night as it helped her to relax. When she found a book that she had asked for as a present for Christmas, she put her bag with the socks in down and she started to read it. But then she thought that if she did get the book for Christmas it would spoil it for her if she read any of it now, so when she heard Jenny shout, she put the book back and walked over to her.
“Come on, Sally, I’ve got my book. Let’s get gone before we meet Jenny walking up Victoria Road, because she’ll try to get at you. She’ll want to be in front in the mickey-taking over Christmas, so let’s run up to Titus Street and miss her” said Helen as they ran off laughing to try and miss Jenny. But, Sally didn’t miss her dad’s present!
Sally walked round to Helen’s house, and they had a cup of coffee and talked about the things they wanted for Christmas.
“Look at the time!” exclaimed Sally. “I will have to be going. My dad’s making the Sunday tea for 5 o’clock.”
When Sally got home she met her mum at the door, just coming home as well.
“That’s all my Christmas shopping done for this year. How did you do, Sally?”
“OH NO!” shouted Sally. “Dad’s present, where is it?”
“Oh! Have you left it on the train? Come on, let’s get inside and think,” Mum said.
“I had it on the train, but I don’t remember it being at Helen’s. I think I’ve left it in Salts Mill when I was looking at books, and they will be shut now for Christmas,” explained Sally. “What am I going to do?”
“Ah well, it’s too late now. We won’t tell Dad about the lost socks, we’ll just go back after Christmas and see if they have found them,” said Mum. “If they have, you can give them to Dad on his birthday in the New Year. He’s got some other presents so he won’t miss some socks.”
Little did Sally know that someone in her Mum’s Brownie Pack had seen her in the book shop. When the assistant found the bag with a present which was wrapped up and had a label on it saying ‘To Dad, Love From Sally’, the girl had said to the assistant that she knew Sally and her mum, who was called ‘Badger’, as she was a Brownie in her pack. She said she would deliver the present to her home in time for Christmas.
So the assistant gave the little girl and her father, who was with her, the present and said “Thank you for being kind and helpful”, because she knew that Brownies were encouraged to be both kind and helpful.
The little girl’s father said “ Give me the present and I will give it to Sally’s dad personally, when I see him on Monday morning having a coffee at the `Terrace Café` on Gordon Terrace next to the Post Office, he is always there with Kitty, Sally’s grandma. He can then take it home and put it under the tree.” So this is exactly what he did.
When Sally’s dad was given the present, he thanked the Brownie’s dad and said that he would tell ‘Badger’ of his daughter’s good deed. You never know, she might even get a ‘Good Deed’ badge if there is such a thing, because Brownies like getting badges.
Dad slipped the present under the tree in the front room and told nobody. He thought that this would get the girls thinking when he opened the present that was lost. Dad didn’t even know what was wrapped up in the present so it would be a normal surprise when he opened it on Christmas Day.
Sally and the rest of the family went to bed knowing that lots of presents were under the tree ready for the morning. Sally had forgotten about the lost present already.
Next morning Sally and James were up very early, but they still didn’t get up before Dad. He was having a cup of coffee and looking at the empty glass of milk and the half eaten carrot the children had left out for Santa and Rudolf the reindeer the previous night and smiling to himself.
“Has he been?” they shouted. They had shouted this for years, even though now they knew the presents were put under the Christmas tree by Mum and Dad late at night when the children were asleep.
“Yes, he’s been. I’ve never known him miss. Even in bad weather the reindeer and Santa still get through. Two snow flakes fall and half of Bradford stops, but you can set your watch by Santa, if you get a watch for Christmas,” Dad said laughing.
“Dad didn’t want a watch for Christmas, did he?” asked James.
“No! He’s just winding us up, I hope,” answered Sally.
“Winding us up, a watch, OH very good Sal, that’s funny” laughed James
Mum got settled down with a coffee by the tree. It was her job to give out the presents.
“Are we all ready? Lets see what Santa’s brought shall we?” she said to the eagerly waiting others.
“Sally, here are some for you, and James, some for you,” said Mum, handing presents out.
“What about me?” said Dad.
“Just wait. You’re like a big kid!” said Mum shaking her head at him and laughing.
“Some for me,” Mum said to herself. “Some for Dad now,” she added.
After some tearing of wrapping paper and some screams of joy, the rest of the presents were given out.
Mum said “Wait a minute. There is still one left right at the back of the tree.” She had to lay on the floor and partly go under the tree to reach it. She had not seen this type of wrapping paper, and whoever had wrapped it had done a good job. Sally was still looking at her presents and trying a new jumper on. When she pulled the jumper over her head, she saw the familiar looking paper and froze and looked at Mum.
“That’s the lost present,” she mouthed to Mum. “How did it get here?”
“Come on, whose is it then?” Dad asked slyly.
“It says ‘To Dad, Love from Sally’,” said Mum, shaking her head at Sally.
“Well, let’s have it then, if it’s mine,” said Dad, pretending to know nothing about it.
Mum gave it to him and he opened it.
“Well, socks – and sports ones at that. Just what I wanted!” laughed Dad. “Thank you, thank you Santa,” he added.
“But…but…how is that possible, Dad? I left those socks in the Salts Mill book shop. How did they get under the tree in our house, eh?” Sally asked.
“Santa brought them here. Don’t you believe in him, Sally? I do,” said Dad. Mum and Sally both said at the same time “We do now, we do now.”
James just looked at everyone and said “What?”, as Dad fell about laughing, saying “You will find out at the next Brownie meeting.”
“Brownies? What have they got to do with sports socks?” asked James, as Sally and her Mum scratched their heads, looking at the empty glass of milk and the half-eaten carrot that Dad had left on the coffee table for Santa and Rudolph.

© Peter J. Bottomely, 2007

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