“What’s this doing here?” Jake dashed into the kitchen, brandishing a letter.
“What’s that honey?”
“The letter I wrote to Santa? I found it in the cupboard.” Mom stared at the letter, but she couldn’t deny it. “You never sent it did you? You said you had, but it’s still here.”
“I’m sorry, honey. I just…”
“Just what? Meant to do it later? Stop lying to me. I’ve been through this over and over again in my head. I know what’s going on.”
“It’s not what you think.”
“Oh yeah? Yeah? Then what’s this?” Jake ran upstairs and returned moments later, dragging the costume behind him with some difficulty. The soft, red fabric and the great white beard bumped down the stairs and settled into a ball at the bottom.
“Oops… “ Mom winced. “Honey… I didn’t want you to find out like this.”
“How many times have you told me that lying’s naughty? At least a hundred times. And now…” the words died in Jake’s throat. He sat down, flinging the costume on the ground. “Now you’re the liar. How can I ever trust you again?”
He lifted up his hand, eyes still averted. “No. Don’t say anything. No more lies.”
Mom stayed quiet and twiddled her fingers with a pained expression on her face. “I can only say I’m sorry.”
“Who knows about this?” He lifted the costume up between his thumb and index finger, inspecting the beard closely. “I suppose Dad knows. The last time Santa came Dad just ‘happened’ to miss him.”
“Darling…” Mom walked up to Jake and took him by the shoulders. “Almost everyone knows. All the adults and the bigger kids too.”
Jake stared at her in horror. “So it’s not just you? You’ve all been lying to me? My sister, my teachers, even Dad?”
Mom nodded. Jake noticed a tear form in her eye. “I didn’t think you’d take it this hard. Your sister just sort of grew into knowing. She still loves to hang onto the magic and pretend that Santa’s real. I thought the same would happen with you.”
“What about the presents? They’re from the mall, aren’t they? Not from Santa’s workshop at all. You just buy them, like any old birthday present.”
Mom nodded, looking at Jake. Her eyelids fluttered.
“It’s nothing to do with being naughty?”
Jake shook his head in disgust.
“So it’s your decision if I get that robotic dog or not. Santa’s elves aren’t watching.”
“No. There are no elves.”
“Okay. Okay.” He mustered all the contempt he could find into one look and directed it at Mom. “I’ll be in my room. I need to think this over.”
Mom nodded. “You okay, honey?”
He nodded curtly, marching upstairs.
With the door closed firmly behind him, Jake had to stifle his laughter in a pillow. Mom had swallowed it hook, line and sinker. He’d seen the look on her face.
Jake was now one step closer to being the proud owner of a robotic dog.