Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

For Christmas i would like a Fire Truck with Flashing Lights and Sirens and also a Space Ship like in that movie that Dad says we can see next week it looks very exiting. Also one of those swords they have in the movie so I can fight my big brother Simon when he trys to take my stuff.

I have been a very good boy this year I always help my Mum put away the dishes and she says it is a big help because she is so busy. She says my writing is getting much better even though she still has trouble reading it some of the time but I know you will be able to read this. Just like I know that Mum will read the first bit of this letter and then skip the rest because she is too busy. Sometimes she doesnt notice little details. Things like who is taking someone elses stuff just because they can because they are bigger. But you notice those things. I know you do. You dont just make a list, but then you check it. You check it twice. I understand that. Its important to get things right.

See, I want to be just like you when i grow up. I dont mean fat and living at the North Pole. Dad says all the ice will be melted soon and I dont like boats. I know Mum says it is rude to call people fat even if they are. Especially if they are, she says. But its different when its you. You know if weve been bad or good so I know that you know I didnt mean to be rude. I dont care if im fat when i grow up but thats not what i meant. I meant that I want to do what you do. Not giving kids presents. Thats okay I guess but like the fat thing, its not what I mean. Its not the Main Thing, its just how you get people to not notice the Main Thing.

Seeing them when they are sleeping. Knowing when they are awake. Some kids get scared when they hear that song. Lots are scared because they dont want you to know what they do. Some are scared because it seems creepy to have someone watching all the time.

I wasnt scared. I was inspired.

Now sometimes I get up at night and watch Simon while he sleeps. I dont do anything to him. I could, but I dont. Sometimes I take back the stuff he took from me earlier. Sometimes I move his stuff around. Because I can. When hes asleep, it doesnt matter how big he is. That makes me feel better.

But watching isnt the Main Thing either. Watching one brother is quite hard. I dont know how you watch everyone. I guess security cameras must be handy, and you have a lot of helpers. Still, knowing if someone has been bad or good is a tricky problem. Of course, that doesnt really matter, does it? Nobody is going to tell you that you got it wrong, are they? Exept for the naughty kid, and well, they would say that, wouldnt they? Thats the Main Thing. You get to judge everyone else and nobody gets to judge you. Mum says thats what Kings and Queens did in the olden days. Now they just wave and shake hands and sometimes take the corgys for a walk. But I saw an episode of Horrible Histories where lots of people didnt like what the king did so they cut off his head. I think your way is better. You bribe enough kids with presents so they dont care what the others say. They cant even believe anyone wouldnt love Santa. They dont care that you sneak into their house and watch them when they sleep as long as the presents keep coming. Lots of them even bribe you back with food. They know the deal.

And the naughty kids? Who cares? They have all the next year to get back on the nice list. If they cant do that… guess who will be in their house next Christmas while they sleep?

Better not pout.

Better not cry.

Not that you would do anything to them. You could. But you dont. But they know you could.

Thats what I mean when I say I want to be like you. A King in all but name. Loved by most. Feared by all. Nobody messes with Santa. Nobody takes your stuff and you dont even have to hit them with a sword.

Mum said I should sign my name at the end of the letter but I know that you know who wrote it. I know you watching.


Your Biggest Fan.


The Lost Prince (part 22)

Did you see me through her eyes, beloved? Did you see the pain you had caused me by leaving? Or perhaps you were as oblivious to her as she was to you. I like to hope you would have come back if you had known how it hurt me to see a stranger in your body. But hope is not belief.

In the months and years you did not return, I grew to know you better than I ever had while you were here. When I finally understood, I wept for the suffering that had brought you to me. But selfishly I could not wish it otherwise. Even knowing how short our time together was, I would not sacrifice it. For a long time I blamed the stranger for taking you from me. But you have not been her prisoner all this time. Indeed, it seems at times the opposite has been the case. I will not blame you for seizing back your life. But what have you done with it? You could have returned to me, had you wanted to. I thought we were happy together. Were you happy, or simply waiting for something better to come along?

Did you borrow her beauty, beloved, or she yours? Such distinctions no longer matter, if they ever did. You need it no longer. May she have better luck with it than you did. Whatever lies ahead of her, she will face it without you. You cannot undermine her plans. You cannot steal her pleasures, nor shield her from her pains. And soon enough, she will die. Perhaps you will meet in the hereafter, you with your body and she with hers. Perhaps then, when you no longer need to fight for control, you can finally make peace with one another.

But for now, once again it is you who have come to me and she who will be leaving. Seeing your beauty on her face, I wish I could make her stay. But she is not you. She does not know me, nor I her. She may have taken you from me once, but before that she brought you to me, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that she led me to see the truth that she does not suspect herself. And I will repay her the only way I know how: by freeing her to walk the rest of her path alone.

Farewell, beloved.


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The Lost Prince (part 21)


Goodbye, my beloved. You promised yourself to me long ago, as I did to you. And though you tried to be false, in the end you did come back to me. I will say the farewell you denied me so many years ago. And you will never leave me again.

I waited for you to come back. It was not the first time you had gone wandering, and always before you had reappeared eventually. Then, after a few weeks, I thought you had returned to me. I did not know that it was a stranger wearing your face. It took me years to understand.

I had never met a man like you, beloved. A man, you left no doubt, but soft and beautiful like a woman. I never knew such a delicate body could please me as you did. I doubted that such soft lips could kiss me so urgently, but you never doubted yourself for a moment, and you proved me wrong.

Soft of body, but with a soul as hard as bronze. You never liked to talk of the past that made you so, but I wanted to know you. I collected the hints that dropped from your lips, and treasured them all the more for their rarity. Of the hunger that drove you into hiding. Of the freedom you found here on the mountain, to be yourself after so many years.

You spoke little of your past, and if you had I would not have understood. Even today I may not understand, had the stranger not come to see me. Brief as the visit was, it was the key to unlocking your past.

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The Lost Prince (part 20)

I guess that’s where he learned about poisons in the first place. Say what you will about them, mountain nymphs definitely have a way with herbs. Maybe if he’d stayed on the mountain, he would have learned about antidotes too. Maybe if he’d stayed, he wouldn’t have needed an antidote. Maybe if he’d stayed, she would have wanted to help him.

In the end, she did use her skills to help him. In a way. She gave him something to end his pain. Right to the end he probably thought she would save him, no matter how badly he had treated her.

I must have come down with something on the journey, because I woke up to find I was also under her care. Typical. I survive ten years under siege, as plagues come and go, then the moment I’m out in the fresh country air I get sick.

But the nymph looked after me as tenderly as any old lover could have hoped for. Once, I think I found her kissing my fevered brow as I half-woke. It’s hard to be sure of anything when you’re in that state. But maybe the family resemblance was as striking as they’d said, all those years ago.

It would be so tempting to stay here. But I have responsibilities back in the city. I should be there, helping the people I love. This rural idyll was his life once, but never mine. For better or worse, my home is back in the city.

For however much longer it stands.


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The Lost Prince (part 19)


Maybe I should be happy he’s gone. But it’s all too late. Much of the damage is already done, and the rest is coming, no matter what. It’s like being on a burning ship. The flames will go out when it sinks beneath the waves, but there’s not much comfort in the knowledge. All you can do is wait for events to run their course. That’s what it’s like in the city now. Waiting for the end to come. I guess there’s a slight consolation in knowing he won’t be there to see the fruits of his handiwork. But it’s so, so slight.

He didn’t even have the decency to die on the battlefield. But I guess that’s fitting. You live by the poison arrow, you die by the poison arrow. And in his agony, he just would not shut up. Kept going on about how his wife was the only one who could heal him. His first wife, that is. Not the one who was tending him by his bedside. That must have made Helen feel good about her life choices.

Eventually he got his way, like he always did. I had to go with him, of course. Nobody else in the city knew the area as well. It’s a miracle he survived as he was dragged, writhing and screaming, up the mountain. Dying along the way would have been uncharacteristically thoughtful.

After all these years on the harsh mountain, I wasn’t even sure she’d still be alive. So many aren’t, back in the city.  But there she was, as if she’d been waiting for him since the day he left.

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