Friday, 18 November 2011
I wrote this story a few years ago as a Christmes gift for a friend. Here are the first few paragraphs.
17 Poplar Avenue, Twiddlington.
The magic piano
Hugo Higgins was fed up. It was Christmas Day, given an hour or two, and no one had even mentioned presents.
Miss Grubb, his class teacher, was convinced that everyone, especially parents, should believe in Santa Claus. On December the first she had dictated a letter to
Greenland. Everyone in the class was allowed write a list of all the gifts they wanted for Christmas, even weapons and things. Hugo was sure his dad had read the letter next morning, because he couldn't have seen what was on the computer without removing it. Hugo had crept downstairs when everyone was asleep and stuck the list on the screen with bits of well-chewed bubble-gum. He had also switched the computer on so that the light would shine through the paper. The following morning he had heard his dad, who for once was not on a business trip, cursing and swearing about wasting electricity and accusing everyone except Hugo, who was not allowed to touch his father's computer.
But December had passed uneventfully. No one had asked him about the list and Hugo was sure that must be a bad omen. Instead of the comics, guns and inline skates, he would get the usual assortment of scarves, gloves and socks, boring encyclopaedias and a voucher for some stupid outing or other.
Christmas night was about as dark as it could get. An owl hooted plainchant in a nearby tree and the moon had gone into hiding behind heavy rain-clouds. Although Hugo didn’t really think anything would happen, since there was no Santa Claus, no Father Christmas, and certainly no sleigh with bells and reindeer, he was nevertheless huddled under his duvet to keep out the icy draught while keeping a watchful eye on the open window until sleep overcame him.
The grandfather clock in the hall wheezed like an asthmatic old man, took a deep breath and struck five, startling Hugo, who had set his own alarm clock for the same time. Now it launched its own racket from under his pillow and had to be put out of action in double quick time.
Hugo thought about the second letter he had written to Santa Claus and fixed to his dad's computer keyboard (between letters g and h) with more well-chewed bubble-gum a week ago, after the first version of Miss Grubb’s list still had not brought the slightest, teeny-weeniest enquiry from Mum and Dad. Then he crept down the stairs, shining the way with his torch and dragging his duvet behind him because it was bitterly cold and the central heating wouldn’t switch itself on for another two hours.
I forgot to tell you to let me not have piano lessons. I need new football boots, a remote control space-ship and a book on how to make teachers disappear into thin air. Whatever Dad and Mum have told you, I am not musical and can you please give the piano to someone else.
Yours quite truly,
P.S. That's the house with the narrow chimney, so you might want to come in through my bedroom window. I’ll leave it open for you.
Unfortunately, the rumours about the piano had only come to Hugo’s ears thanks to a session of eavesdropping, so he couldn’t even protest about them openly.
Hugo went into the kitchen, dragging the duvet along the tiles. He was in luck. Someone had left a glass of orange juice on the kitchen table, and in the biscuit tin there were still a few of his favourite chocolaty ones.................................