Wonka presents the story.., p.1
The Story of Joe’s Christmas
(Fully illustrated version)
Copyright 2014 Madeleine Masterson
Joe lay in his cot singing Seesaw Margery Daw and playing with his tractor and motorbike in turn. As he moved his head from side to side his curly blonde hair became more and more ruffled and somehow his pyjama bottoms came off until he looked like Piglet with just a vest and little pink legs sticking out. His Grandma called him an old fashioned boy and it was true that no matter how much Joe was brushed or cleaned up with a flannel, the end result was a ruffled green blue eyed boy.
Neddy was still. A solid horsey shape in the dark room just below the heavy green curtain pulled across the window. Tonight though, there was a gap in the curtain and the full moon beamed down into the room and one of those gentle silver smoke rays touched Neddy on his long wooden nose. He began to rock ever so slowly and very very quietly so as not to disturb Joe who was now asleep with the tractor in one hand and the motorbike against his cheek.
Neddy loved being Joe’s rocking horse and would not have changed this job for all the green grass in the world. Before this job, Neddy had been a race horse, often winning but somehow never very happy. Being of a kind and loyal nature, he hadn’t enjoyed racing against the other horses and was not sorry to depart this life when it was time to do so. Arriving at the Returns Department alongside many other animals (people queued up in a different room so Neddy had been told), he already knew what he would like to come back to this life as, and when asked what kind of work he was looking for, he said very politely that he wished to return to work as a toy horse.
‘A toy horse!’ thundered the voice of the Old Administrator, hunched over a huge leather bound book with columns and figures and writing in it.
‘Well I’ve heard everything now - a toy horse indeed after winning all those races, having your photo taken, your portrait hung in famous places - not to mention the museum set up in your honour’ the Old Administrator coughed and spluttered and his cheeks seemed to swell up and turn red as he continued to pour scorn on this humble request. Neddy waited with an obstinate look on his proud face. The rules were quite clear and he was not afraid to quote them. Behind the Old Administrator’s desk hung a rather big oak frame and inside it was not a picture but The Rules. Rule number 8 stated:
IF YOUR REQUEST IS TURNED DOWN BY ADMINISTRATION YOU
HAVE A RIGHT TO APPEAL TO THE MANAGER
And so it was that Neddy, who was refused outright by the Old Administrator, found himself in yet another room facing another desk but with no one to be seen. He could still hear that other voice ringing in his ears.
‘You have a total of 101 points which means Top Jobs, TOPJOBS!’ he shouted, repeating himself as if Neddy were deaf and daft. On and on he went until the silent stare and quiet stance of the great race horse which Neddy undoubtedly was shut him up at last.
The Old Administrator tired of the interview and angry at not getting his own way did not argue with the rules ‘Oh yes you can appeal - appeal away and see where it gets you. NEXT.’
The desk in front of Neddy was nothing like the Old Administrators’ with everything in exact position, down to the letters in the IN tray and filing in the OUT. No, this desk was rather untidy and much more interesting. Books were open with bits of paper sticking in other pages, fluorescent marker pens and pencils scattered on the papers and wonder of wonders - a huge glass paperweight with a Christmas tree inside. In fact the closer Neddy looked, it seemed as if there was more than just a tree and the tree itself was so beautiful! The fairy lights sparkled and the little ornaments spun round on their tiny gold thread glowing in the pinks and blues and green light. Tinsel wrapped itself round the tree from bottom to top, in and out of the green needles and wasn’t that a –
‘There you are’ said a warm and friendly voice, ‘ and just in time too because I’ve dropped something and I’m blowed if I can find it.’ Neddy looked down into the smiling face of the Manager. She was on the floor coming round the side of the desk as she spoke, and even when she stood up, he was still looking down at her. This tiny woman smiled again and said ‘It’s all right, I’ve found it’ and showed him a miniature silver star lying in the palm of her hand. ‘It’s to go on the top of the tree and it’s so small I knew it would be tricky.’ and while Neddy watched she placed it on the very top of the little Christmas tree inside the glass ball.
‘There - the finishing touch!’ And they both gazed at it admiringly. Neddy loved a bit of magic and this was such a moment for him. He felt surely that this Manager would grant his request and with real respect for her authority, he spoke up once again.
‘I’ve come about my next job’
‘Oh I know why you’re here, I have all your papers and you mustn’t mind the Old Administrator, he’s due for a holiday you see - now where is that card with all the details on it, we need that, and of course you’ve already seen where you are going,’ - the Manager picked up the glass paperweight with one hand and suddenly produced a small blue index card with the other, ‘Yes, here it is, Flat 2, No 11 Horace Pool Close.’
But Neddy wasn’t listening, he was looking deep into the glass ball where he could see a small boy asleep in a white cot and there opposite, over by the window stood a beige cord rocking horse.
Joe’s mum crept into the bedroom to check if he was asleep. He was. Still clutching the tractor with the motorbike squashed against his cheek, Joe slept on. As she drew the curtain against the brightness of the moonlight she put her hand on Neddy’s head and tweaked his ear. Neddy rocked slightly and even though she thought she had made him rock, this comforted her and made her spirits rise. Feeling better now she went back into the living room and reached for a pen and paper.
Time to write a Christmas List and see what to do about it all. Now, if it were a Wish List instead what would be on it?? Thinking this, her gaze caught the little snowstorm in a glass ball on top of the television. Funnily enough it was only last Christmas that Joe had spotted it in a nearby charity shop, and insisted on having it although it was not really a toy and certainly not suitable for children aged under three years, as it stated underneath.
Not to be deterred, Joe resorted to his latest public exhibition which was kicking. Whisked out of the shop in a trice and told he was not having anything now, Joe’s mum strapped him back into his chariot, the pushchair as she called it, and took him straight home. And, that would have been that, only his Grandma turning up later that day and oblivious to Joe’s recent display reached into her bag and said ‘Look what I found for you Joe! Don’t you just love it - and look what it does!’ Grandma shook the glass ball and the little tree inside seemed to glow and sparkle with the falling snow. On the very top of the tree a tiny star shimmered and caught the light. Joe did love it and took it to bed that night.
‘And guess what else I found while I was buying the snowstorm’ exclaimed Grandma all excited and impatient to tell. ‘A rocking horse - it will be perfect in Joe’s room over by the window and it can be his Christmas present from me!’
Joe’s mum remembered it all now as she took the little snowstorm from the television top and gave it a shake. Again she felt a strange comfort in doing so and replacing it, she went back to her list.
Neddy remembered last Christmas too. After all this was when he had arrived at No 11, Flat 2, his wish granted by the Manager of the Returns Department. He gave a little rock of excitemen
‘Now, if I were more organised - now where have I put the stardust, such a nuisance, I expect the Old Administrator has been poking around and moved it. Ah! There it is. You can’t go anywhere without this.’ The Manager produced a small phial of sparkly powder and suddenly went rather serious. ‘Once I have sprinkled the stardust on you Neddy, you will have your wish granted and return to the land of earth. You have seen your new home and the little boy who will spend many hours on your back. His name is Joe. The magic will only work however if this is what you want with all your heart. Returns only work on this basis.’
But, when Neddy looked into the Manager’s eyes he saw they were smiling and her expression was kind. She knew a genuine wish when she heard one.
Neddy spoke up and said with all his heart that he did wish to be Joe’s rocking horse, more than anything. After that, the Manager made him sign a form to declare his true intent (for the Old Administrator’s records she said) and finally got on with the return itself.
‘For a successful and happy return
I now send you on your way
And heartfelt wishes they must be
Spoken and signed from you to me.’
Sang the Manager as she sprinkled the stardust onto Neddy’s great head, tapping the phial until it was empty, and as Neddy looked down once more into her eyes he saw not silvery glittering stardust but flakes of real snow! And he was no longer in the Manager’s room either. He was being carried through the streets with all the hustle and bustle of late shoppers and cars speeding by catching the falling snow in their headlights. The magic had worked! Neddy was no longer a race horse as he realised when he saw his reflection in a shop window. He was a rocking horse!
And so it was, a few days before last Christmas that Neddy had been purchased by Grandma as she had promised Joe’s mum. He had made his grand entrance on Christmas Eve and was smuggled quietly into Joe’s bedroom over by the window, just as he had seen in the big glass paperweight.
Neddy managed to have a quick look into the living room as he was carried round the corner of the hallway and was amazed to see the same glass ball on top of a television. And it had a little tree in it too. But that’s magic for you thought Neddy, to find that here too. And as he remembered all these happenings only a year ago, Neddy rocked quietly back and forth thinking how lucky he was, for he knew that for many people and animals wishes never seemed to come true whatever they did.
‘I expect the Old Administrator has put many a wish in his big old wastepaper basket,’ thought Neddy, ‘or altered the figures in his accounts book. I bet he had a wish refused once, and has never forgotten it.’ And, pondering on this rather clever deduction, Neddy rocked himself to sleep.
During the night it started to snow, hiding the waning moon which shone at its brightest as it grew smaller, the snow clouds were full and covered the sky.
In the living room, the curtain was not pulled across the window, and in the strange half-light the little glass snowstorm was resting on top of the Christmas List. Joe’s mum had finished it late in the evening and popped it underneath the ball before turning the lights off and going to bed. It had taken her a long time to complete the list, knowing that most of the things she wanted to buy Joe for Christmas were out of the question.
The List continued, with other small gifts and items of food and drink but it finished abruptly as if the writer simply could not make the effort to write any more. And so the List remained for now on top of the television and under the glass ball, where the little tree inside stood in its own snowy world.
Back in the Returns Department the Manager was wide awake. Finally sitting down at her desk for five minutes’ meditation (as she called it), she had just been about to close her eyes when something happened. There was a loud crashing noise followed by several books falling off the desk onto her lap. But what had made such a din? Sitting in the same position in the big winged chair at her desk, the Manager looked carefully about her. A shimmering light caught her eye.
‘So that’s what it was. The star from the Christmas tree! And so it was that the star on top of the tree inside the glass paperweight had burst out and fallen right onto the desk.
One of the books on her lap had fallen open. Entitled simply: ‘WISHES’, it lay open at page 101.
Realising this was no coincidence the Manager scrabbled on the desk for her reading glasses, and polishing them with the end of her elegant silk scarf, proceeded to read:
‘The Age-Old custom of wishing on a star is generally accepted as the most popular form of wishing today. Most of these wishes however, will not come
true unless they are returned to the right department. For instance .........’
The Manager paused in her reading and looked thoughtful. She picked up the little star very carefully and wondered indeed, if there was a wish involved here, and if there was, had it come to the right department? A bit further down the page she found what could be the answer.
‘It has been noted that the exception to the Rule on wishes coming true (that they must return to the right department) happens only when it is a FALLING STAR. A falling star will always return to the right department and thus, will always come true.’
‘Well fancy that.’ murmured the Manager sticking a piece of paper in the book to mark the page.
‘Now all I need, ‘ she thought, chewing on the top of the nearest pencil, ‘ is to discover the whereabouts of the wish. Or, perhaps it will come true anyway, after all that is what the book said.’ Her thought ran on, and she leaned forward in her chair to look again at the star atop the Christmas tree in the glass ball.
Like Neddy the previous year, she saw beyond the tree into a room. Although it was a very dark room and according to a clock ticking away on a shelf, in the middle of the night, there was enough light coming through the window to make things out. Like it was snowing outside and settling on roofs and gutters. Inside the room she immediately saw the little glass snowstorm on top of the television and smiled knowingly.
‘But of course!’ She realised all at once what to look for. Yes there it was, under the snowstorm and with a bit of luck she could just magic the Christmas
List out of the glass and read it
End of part One
Wonka Presents! The Story of Joe's Christmas - Part One by Madeleine Masterson / Humor have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on16 votes