Fiction Five

Day 4 – Happy Christmas, Everyone

Looking for Rebus

Clara stood at the gate of the house at No15 and waited for a sign.


There were no lights on and nobody moved around inside behind the windows. More importantly, no puppy.

Where was Rebus?

During lockdown when the whole world stopped because of a nasty virus, Rebus had come to live at No 15 and Clara had fallen completely in love with him. Clara had spent many a happy hour playing with the small bundle of jet black fur in her neighbour’s front garden. The older kids that lived there were too busy inside on their Xboxes Mrs Cooper had said, and Rebus was better off outside in the fresh air than chewing the furniture and getting into trouble. Clara and Rebus had become firm friends.

As it started to snow, Clara took one last look, tucked the stray hair that fell across her bright blue eyes into her hat with her mittened hand, and continued along the frosted pavement.

Fairy lights sparkled invitingly in the window and a multi-coloured bauble wreath hung on the front door. Reindeer bells tinkled as she went inside. Mummy loved Christmas. The house felt warm and cosy and she was glad to be home.

‘Who goes there?’ Mummy called out cheerily from the kitchen, the delicious smell of freshly made spicy cookies filling Clara’s nostril and making her instantly hungry.

‘It’s just me,’ Clara said flatly. She dropped her school bag on the bottom step of the stairs and took off her coat, her hat and her gloves and placed them on top of the radiator to dry.

‘Wash your hands and come and test these festive goodies for me,’ Mummy said.

Clara climbed onto a high stool at the kitchen bunker and picked up a warm cookie from the plate in front of her. She took a nibble and put it back down. She couldn’t eat it.

‘What’s the matter honey?’ Mummy asked. ‘Everything alright? How was your last day at school? Usually everyone is playing games and making cards, singing carols and having fun?’

Clara looked up at her Mummy and the tears spilled down her rosy cheeks.

‘I think something has happened to Rebus, Mummy. He’s not there. There’s nobody there. He’s gone, Mummy. I miss him.’

Mummy’s heart melted as she hugged her daughter tightly.

‘Rebus has gone to a new home, Clara. The family had to move. I am so sorry.’

The family at No 15, affected by a change in their circumstances brought on by the pandemic created by the virus that had touched everyone’s life in some way, had had to move. And Rebus, their young dog, was having to be re-homed too. A dog is for life, not for Christmas and certainly not for a lockdown either, mummy had explained when Clara had asked if they could get a puppy.

Mummy dabbed Clara’s tears away. ‘I tell you what, I could do with your help. Why don’t you give me a hand to wrap presents and we’ll put on a Christmas film and see if we can’t cheer you up. What do you say?’

‘And I think I’ll write another letter to Santa too, Mummy, and ask him to find a forever home for Rebus.’

‘That’s a great idea Clara. Then we can go for a walk in the snow and post it.’

On Christmas Eve, Clara wanted to go to bed early in preparation for Santa coming. She borrowed one of Daddy’s stretchy ski socks because there was room for lots of things to go in it and put it at the bottom of her bed before snuggling down to go to sleep. She looked up at the sky outside her window and thought about Rebus all alone and hoped very much that her letter had reached Santa in time for Christmas.

Clara woke early to snowy silence. Outside, it was still dark but everything was coated in sparkling snowflakes. A very festive morning indeed. She quickly turned her attention to her stocking which was full of surprises including a chocolate Santa and a little orange. She woke her sister and together they ran through and jumped on Mummy and Daddy’s bed.

‘Get up, get up, it’s Christmas.’

Presents under the tree opened and wrapping paper strewn across the floor, Daddy announced that he was popping out for a pint of milk for his much needed coffee and Mummy headed to the kitchen to put the oven on to heat some mince pies for breakfast. Clara was happy. With new toys and books to look at, she had all but forgotten about her last minute letter to Santa.

The front door tinkled as Daddy came back but he didn’t have any milk. Instead, he was carrying a large box which he put down in the hall. He immediately called for Clara to come and help.

‘The box is moving Daddy,’ Clara exclaimed, ‘What is it?’

Just then, the lid lifted and out popped a very black and fluffy nose.

‘Rebus! It’s Rebus!’ Clara cried out looking up at Daddy’s face and Mummy who had come to stand beside him. They nodded.

‘He’s found a new forever home Clara,’ Mummy said. ‘Merry Christmas.’

Rebus licked and licked and licked at the happy tears on her face before bounding off to jump around and say hello to everyone and bury himself beneath the chaos of Christmas under the tree.

They all laughed and watched as the happy little dog made himself very much part of their family. Clara took a tiny moment to look out of the window and up to the sky beyond … ‘Thank you Santa. Thank you for making my wish come true. Merry Christmas.’

Romy Ritchie

This story was originally broadcast on Forth FM and read by Santa himself…

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