Boog leaned into the wind as he hurried toward Elves’ Quarters, North.  Even though exhausted, he felt great.  He had enjoyed his time with Holly and was glad he had run into her a second time; but he couldn’t stop thinking about the cavern.  Lost in his thoughts, he stumbled and fell on his face.

            “Ouch!”

            “Hey, buddy, need some help?”

            “Jackson?”

            “Yeah, it’s me.”

            “I’m okay.”  Boog wiped the snow from his face.

            “Boog?  You sure are up early.”

            “I haven’t been to bed yet.”

            “For real?  Why not?”

            “I was out at Glacier Lake, with Holly.”

            "Oh,” Jackson said knowingly.  “You’re one crazy elf.”

            "Do you know anything about a cave behind the glacier?"

            "Uh, no, I've never been back there."

            "I guess it's sorta in the glacier," Boog said. "There's another snow fairy that guards it.  Name's Daisy."

            "No foolin'? We should explore it."

            "Fat chance!  Daisy only lets you wonder about it.  She won't let you in -- says the PIN will drop."

            "The PIN will drop!  What in tarnation's in there?" Jackson shifted the pastry tray.

            “Not sure, but I think it's where the snow fairies are born. Anyway, you can wonder about it all you want, so long as you don't go past Daisy." Boog yawned. "Well, I gotta get to bed.”

            “I’m headed your way.”

            “Geez, is it that late?”

            “Yep. In fact, it's later than usual.  Tubbs had trouble with the oven again.”

            “Why doesn’t he just ask Santa for a new one?”

            “Cuz he’s stubborn and he likes to fuss,” Jackson said, keeping pace with Boog.

            “He still makes the best cookies at the North Pole.”

            “Nope,” Jackson countered.  “Mrs. Claus does.  Besides, how would you know?  You never eat any.”

            “I do if I’m hungry."  Boog pulled his scarf up around his ears.  "Oh, I read in the 'Herald' about you and Sheeny.  I guess April 6th is really special this year."
            " I thought maybe last year, but no one joined last year.  It's a first, you and Holly.  I mean, a snow fairy and an elf.  Oughta be interesting."

            "I'll say. Hey, I'm glad it's not Rissy. That would be a nightmare."

            "Yeah, I bet the weather guessers are glad, too." Jackson chuckled. "So what does Daisy look like?"

            "Just another fairy.  Only she wears white and yellow, I think.  Real pretty wings and yellow hair, oh, and dark yellow eyes."

            "Amber?"

            "I guess.  She has a real sweet voice, but she's a little annoying.  Every other sentence is about wondering."

            "Most of the snow fairies are a little annoying." Jackson kept pace with Boog. "So why does she talk about wondering?"

            "Cause she's the fairy of wonder and her purpose is to -- oh nevermind." Boog yawned again.

            They continued to chat while they climbed the steep slope that led to Elves’ Quarters, North. 

            “Home at last,” Boog sighed.

            Jackson propped the pastry tray on the windowsill while Boog opened the door.

            “It’s only Boog,” moaned Elmer.

            “But I brought Jackson with me,” Boog said.

            Elmer peered out the door.  “You’re late, Jackson.”

            “I know.  The oven was on the fritz again.  Tubbs was up all night messing with it. 

            “Why doesn’t he dust it?” Jimbo asked, buttoning his coat.

            “Cuz he’s a cranky ole elder elf. You know how stubborn they can be about dust. Hey, where’s Sheeny?”

            “She’ still upstairs,” Strubby said, grabbing a pastry from the tray. “None of the gals have come down yet.”

            “And they better hurry if they want any donuts,” Elmer shouted up the stairs.

            “Don’t eat our breakfast,” the gals chorused from upstairs.

            “Is Jackson still here?” Sheeny hollered.

            “About to leave, ma’am,” Jackson called, putting the tray on the table.

            “Wait!” Sheeny hurried down the stairs.  “I’ll walk with you.”  She grabbed a pastry from the tray.

            “I’m off.”  Jackson extended his arm to Sheeny and winked at his buddy, Boog, who was already climbing into bed.  “See ya around.”

            “Leaving a little early, aren’t you?” Strubby teased Sheeny.  "Don't you want to wait for Covski? She won’t be leavin' for another hour.”

            Sheeny rolled her eyes.  “Don’t you fret?  There’s plenty for me to do.”  She waved at her friends and took Jackson’s hand.  They quickly descended toward the North Pole Proper shops.

            As they arrived at Covski’s Nuts, Crackers and Sweets shop, Sheeny smiled at Jackson.  “We have some fresh sun nuts if you care to stop by the shop later.”

            Jackson blushed. “I’ll come by.  I love sun nuts, especially in this season of no sun.  I like the way they glow.”

            “And they keep you all warm inside.”  She was amused by Jackson’s shyness.  They had been canoodling for quite awhile now.

            “What are you grinnin' at?”

            “Oh, nothing.”  Sheeny just smiled.

            Jackson smiled, too, then headed down Candy Cane Lane.  He had to get back to the bakery.  Tubbs wouldn’t be pleased that he had taken so long.  It was time well spent, though, he thought to himself.  He steeled himself in preparation for his encounter with Tubbs.

***

            “I’m back,” Jackson called as he opened the door wide.  “Hello-o, yoo hoo, Tubbs.” 

            There was no response.  The kitchen smelled like freshly baked cookies.  “Hey Tubbs!” Jackson yelled.  He removed several trays of exactly-ready cookies from the oven.  It was strange that Tubbs wasn’t around.

            Just then, Tubbs crashed through the back door yelling, “Look what I found.”  He cradled a little puppy in his arms.  It was shivering from the cold.  “I heard him whimpering,” Tubbs said.  “Took me awhile to find him, though.  I’m going to call him Dewd.  That's what he is--a dude!"

            Jackson was grateful that Tubbs was preoccupied with the puppy.  “He’s a cute one.”

            “I don’t know where he came from.  Out of the blue, I just heard him whining -- "

            Jackson nodded his head knowingly.  He would hear this story a hundred times before the day was over.

            “Yippers!  My cookies!”

            “It’s okay.  I took them out of the oven.  Can the puppy stay here?”

            “His name is Dewd, and yes, he’s going to stay right here and keep us company.  Hey!  Where have you been, anyway?”

            “Well, I got a late start, and then I waited for Sheeny.  We walked back together,” Jackson said, grinning from ear to ear.

            “You better mind your P’s and Q’s, or you can just get a job at Covski’s.”

            “Aw, Tubbs,” Jackson said, knowing that only Santa could assign him elsewhere.  “You were young once.”  Then he changed the subject.  “Want me to take some bread to the Workshop?  I’m sure Santa would appreciate it, what with Mrs. Claus down and out.”

            “Go ahead, but don’t dally.  I want you to clean up a little before you take the cart out on the Lane,” Tubbs said.  “While you’re out there, pay a visit to Mrs. Claus.  Give her a breakfast tea cake, and a winter rose, compliments of Tubbs’s Bakery.”

            “How ‘bout some cookies for Santa?”

            “Yes, yes.  I imagine Mrs. Claus hasn’t been able to make him any.”

***

            Once again, Jackson left the bakery with warm baked goods.  He plucked a rose from the snow-covered flower garden under the kitchen window.  As he began his journey toward the Workshop, he glanced over his shoulder toward Covski’s Nutcrackers and Sweets Shop.  He could see the dim light shining from within, and he knew that Sheeny was filling the candy bins.  He smiled and turned back toward the Workshop.

            The Workshop was humming with activity.  Jackson winked at Verde and Rojo, the two reindeer assigned to the Workshop.  They were harnessed and ready to perform whatever tasks Santa required.  They dipped their heads as if to say ‘hello’ to Jackson.

            “Is Santa here?”

            Again, they dipped their heads, letting Jackson know that Santa was, indeed, in the Workshop.  Jackson passed between the huge toy soldiers that guarded the entrance.  The elves bustled about, not even noticing his presence.  Santa stood in the middle of the vast room, arms flailing in all directions as he instructed the helpers in their tasks.

            Jackson  yelled across the room, but Santa didn’t hear him; so he went right up to him and tugged on his shirttail.  “Mornin’ Santa.”           

            Santa smiled broadly.  “Hello, Jackson.  What brings you  to the Workshop this morning?”

            “Fresh baked bread and cookies, sir.” Jackson offered the bag to Santa.  “And a tea cake and rose for Mrs. Claus, compliments of Tubbs’s.”

            Santa was delighted.  “The missus is down with the flu – hasn’t baked a thing in over a week!  Come and visit with her for a bit.  She’s very lonely, and a little grumpy.  She’ll enjoy the company.”

            Leaving Bernard in charge, Santa led Jackson through the side door and up the spiral staircase, which led to the parlor.

            “Have a seat, and I’ll fetch Mama,” Santa said, pointing to a large, red, over-stuffed chair.  Jackson sank into the chair.  He loved visiting Santa’s home.  It was so warm and cozy.  He gazed into the fire that always blazed in the fireplace.  Santa’s pipe rested on the table, next to the chair, and his slippers were on the hearth. The plush, red carpet seemed to go on forever.  For ages, children had sent their artistic interpretations of Santa; these pictures made cheerful wallpaper.  Jackson slid out of the chair, and began to study the portraits on the wall.

            “Jackson, dear!"

            Startled, Jackson spun about and met Mrs. Claus’ oncoming hug. 

            “Why, it’s been ages since I’ve seen anyone, except Papa.  It’s so sweet of you to pay me a visit.”

            “It’s great to see you, Ma’am.  You’re looking mighty chipper.” Jackson gasped, as he struggled to pull away from Mrs. Claus’ ample embrace.  Bowing deeply, he offered her the winter rose, and kissed her hand.  “Compliments of Tubbs’s.”

            She smiled.  “Oh, Jackson, you truly are a dear-- really, you are!”

            “Oh, no, Ma’am.  Tubbs sent the rose, and, oh, I almost forgot.  He sent you this breakfast tea cake, too.”

            “Well, Tubbs is a dear, too,” she said, gracefully accepting the tea cake.

            Eying a pipe, Jackson cleared his throat.  "Um, it's probably not my business, but is Santa smoking again?"

            "No, Jackson, and it's everybody's business.  The pipe is exactly where he left it when he quit smoking."  Mrs. Claus paused. "It's a constant reminder, and neither of us want to move it."

             “You really are looking very well," Jackson said. "Are you feeling better, Ma’am?”

            “Why, yes, thank you. I am. In fact, I’m planning to bake some cookies for Papa.  He’s been fretting – says that since I caught the flu, he’s lost more weight than I have – silly man,” she said, chuckling.  “And just look!  Papa has been relaxing in the parlor again!”  She picked up the ‘Herald,’ which was strewn about the room.  “I just don’t know what to do with him sometimes.”  She picked up Santa’s slippers from the hearth and tucked them and the newspaper under her arm.

            “Ahem,” Jackson cleared his throat.  “Well, I best be going Ma’am. Tubbs wants me to sweep the shop.”

            “Oh, I’m sorry, Jackson.  When I saw the mess Papa made, I forgot myself.  I didn’t mean to be rude.”

            “No Ma’am, you weren’t rude at all.”

            “I’m going to send you some cookies this afternoon.  I know you can have all the cookies you want at the bakery, but I have a new recipe I’m trying.  Now, should I send them to the bakery, or Covski’s?” she asked, winking.

            Jackson blushed.  “Just send them to Tubbs’s, Ma’am, and thank you.”

            “Thank you!”

            Jackson turned toward the staircase.  “I’m glad you’re better Ma’am.  I look forward to those cookies.  No one makes better cookies than you.”

            “This way, dear.  I’ll let you out the front so you don’t have to see Santa.  You know how he is – he always has something for everyone to do.”  She chuckled as she let him out the door.

            Jackson circled the exterior of the Workshop, and made his way down the icy hill, taking care not to slip.  He knew Mrs. Claus had read about him and Sheeny in the 'Herald' -- and thoughts of Sheeny warmed his heart.


Untold Stories Archive