Ciamaka Enyi-Amadi’s Christmas story starter is called ‘Sleigh’ and is read by the author
Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi is a Lagos-born, Galway-raised and Dublin-based writer, editor, spoken-word performer and arts facilitator. She was the 2019 recipient of the Poetry Ireland Access Cúirt Bursary. Her work is published in Architecture Ireland 309, Poetry International 25/26, Poetry Ireland Review 127, IMMA Magazine, The MASI Journal, RTÉ Poetry Programme, Smithereens Press, The Bohemyth, The Irish Times, Art of the Glimpse: 100 Irish Short Stories (ed. Sinéad Gleeson), and Writing Home: The ‘New Irish’ Poets (co-ed. Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi & Pat Boran).
“Guess who I was chatting to over lunch?” Nollaig’s mam asks, as she rips a small white label off an elf doll, clothed head-to-toe in a red onesie.
“Dunno, you’re always talking on your laptop” Nollaig shrugs at her, not turning away from his game. He scowls as the Ipad screen goes black suddenly. He’d ignored the low battery warnings for too long and now he had one less distraction to help him ignore his mother.
Nollaig tosses the tablet onto his bedside table which has been doubling for his school desk, burying his curly head in his pillow.
“Ah come on love, give it a guess,” she holds the elf doll up to her chin wiggling it from side to side with both arms, “here’s a clue”.
Despite himself, his ears perk up at the word ‘clue’. He peeks over his shoulder to see the mischievous grin spreading across mam’s face. Sure why not, he thinks, let’s play along.
“Oh, were you on to Santa?” he quizzes.
“No, no, not him, someone high up on his team—Santa, you know he’s very busy this time of year —head of his workshop actually” she brags.
Nollaig stares past his mother, resting his brown eyes on the mini elf sitting upright on the bookshelf, “was it him then?” he nods at the doll by her shoulder. He wanted, no needed the Ipad charger. Maybe they could strike a bargain, maybe if he plays along in mam’s guessing game then maybe he could play more Animal Crossing before dinner.
“Close,” mam claps her hands together once then rubs her palms together. He could smell the alcohol; she must have sanitised the elf packaging. Nothing escapes the antibacterial spray… not even Santa I bet, he thinks. No, not this year. “I‘ve been on to the Head Elf, he sent over a friend to help you be extra good for Santa”, she gestures to the red doll, “Elf On A Shelf. Nice of him to spare one of his workers just for you, isn’t it?” she says and tosses the white tag into the waste bin. “That’s soo ge-ne-rous of him mam, can I send him a thank you letter, or email, like… on the Ipad?”
“Lovely idea, I’ll tell your da to work on letter-writing with you tomorrow.” “I can start on it before dinner, will you let me have the charger, for only an hour, please mam?” he pleads, following her out of his room and into the colourful plant-lined hallway.
“Don’t be pestering me, you know the rules. No Ipad past 5. Just your luck you bled the battery dry with all your gaming,” she gives out.
“Ah please mam, please” he begs after her. He was almost clutching at her cotton dress as they walked down the stairs, desperate, so he was.
“C’mere and stop your moaning, your da’s put up the new tree. Start decorating, I’ll put dinner on…” She hands him a box of glittery gold and silver baubles and walks off, her words trailing behind her
Stuff this, he thinks dropping the box at the foot of the gigantic artificial Christmas tree.
Operation find the Ipad charger in motion, he grins to himself.
Nollaig sneaks up to his parents’ room, he knows his da will be in his study for at least another half hour ‘til dinner… When he steps into the room, he hears a noise. The elf is watching him from the corner…