A Sprin­kling Of Magic

Poor Emily needed some Christ­mas magic, but she never thought she’d find it in the shop­ping cen­tre

My Weekly - - Contents - By Mar­garet Skip­worth

Are you sure you don’t mind look­ing af­ter Oliver?” I asked my sis­ter, Caitlin, as I fol­lowed my four-year-old son into her liv­ing room. “You must have loads to do be­fore your hol­i­day.”

“Hon­estly, it’s no prob­lem, Emily,” she re­as­sured me. “Any­way,” she added, low­er­ing her voice to a whis­per, “you can’t buy Oliver’s Christ­mas pre­sents while he’s with you.”

I had to ad­mit I was look­ing for­ward to brows­ing around the shops on my own and soak­ing up a lit­tle fes­tive at­mos­phere. Hav­ing to jug­gle a part-time job with look­ing af­ter Oliver didn’t leave me much free time.

Be­sides, Oliver loved spend­ing time with Caitlin. She was great with chil­dren. She helped out at the Sun­day school and hol­i­day camps run by the church that she and her husband at­tended and, oc­ca­sion­ally, Oliver and I went with them.

“Don’t for­get the fairy dust, Mummy.” Oliver’s voice broke into my thoughts.

I glanced at Caitlin and she gig­gled. “It was men­tioned in a story I read to Oliver. Ap­par­ently, if you sprin­kle the dust around the house on Christ­mas Eve all your wishes will come true.”

I could cer­tainly do with a lit­tle magic in my life right now, I mused as I drove to the shop­ping cen­tre. Both my par­ents were dead and Oliver’s fa­ther had left shortly af­ter he was born.

Be­ing a sin­gle par­ent wasn’t easy and I couldn’t have coped with­out Caitlin’s help. But this Christ­mas would be par­tic­u­larly hard as she and her husband, Jeff, were go­ing to Canada to visit Jeff’s sis­ter. So, Oliver and I would be spend­ing Christ­mas Day on our own.

As I wan­dered around the toy shop, search­ing for the items on Oliver’s let­ter to Santa, my spir­its lifted as I sang along to the well-known car­ols which rang through­out the store.

I was still hum­ming WeThree­Kings, two hours later, as I pushed my trol­ley to the car park. Study­ing my bags and feel­ing de­lighted that I’d man­aged to af­ford ev­ery­thing on Oliver’s list, I didn’t see the man steer­ing his trol­ley in my di­rec­tion. Our trol­leys col­lided and two of my bags fell to the ground. The packet of rain­bow-coloured fairy dust burst open and spilled on to the car park. “I’m sorry…” I started. “No, it was my fault.” He stooped down to pick up the pack­ages. “I’m sorry about the glit­ter. I’ll go back to the shop…”

“It was fairy dust for my son,” I in­ter­rupted him with a smile. “Don’t worry, I’ll get an­other packet from the su­per­mar­ket.”

“Fairy dust, eh?” His green eyes twin­kled mis­chie­vously. “Well, I’m sure the fairies will scoop it up if they need it.” Hand­ing me the bags, he said, “you’re Caitlin’s sis­ter, aren’t you?”

I raised an eye­brow. “Emily. Yes, that’s right.”

“I’ve seen you and your son at church with Caitlin,” he ex­plained. “I’m Paul, one of the youth work­ers.” He ges­tured to his trol­ley, laden with toys, and pulled a face. “I drew the short straw to buy pre­sents for the kids.”

When I gave the moun­tain of gifts a quizzi­cal look, he burst out laugh­ing. “Not my chil­dren. I don’t have any. I mean the chil­dren at church,” he said. “Dur­ing our ser­vice on Christ­mas morn­ing the adults hand out small gifts to the chil­dren. Then later, the older chil­dren serve mince pies to adults.” “What a lovely idea.” He nod­ded. “Every­one en­joys it.” Af­ter a short pause, he said, “Why don’t you and your son come along? You’ll be very wel­come.”

Be­fore I had a chance to an­swer, he rushed on, “I’m sorry. You’ve prob­a­bly got other plans for Christ­mas Day.”

Sud­denly feel­ing warmed by the idea, I shook my head. “No. It sounds like fun. We’d love to come.”

“If you’ve time for a cof­fee, I’ll tell you more about it?” he said, giv­ing me an en­chant­ing smile that made my heart skip a beat.

Af­ter un­load­ing our trol­leys, we headed for the café. When we passed the spot where the fairy dust had spilled there was no sign of it.

“Look,” Paul said, laugh­ing. “I told you the fairies would scoop it up. They’ve done a good job.”

“They cer­tainly have.” I chuck­led to my­self. I had a feel­ing this might turn out to be a mag­i­cal Christ­mas, af­ter all.

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