The Santa Realisation

Michael Sams

Photo Credit: Masha/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

I remember I was nine. I was in the back seat, behind Mum, who was driving sedately. My older brother was beside me. It was an early Saturday morning in November, already uncomfortable with the dry Australian heat. The air-con blasted pitifully, unable to eradicate the lived-in stink of the family sedan. We were on our way to the markets for some bromeliads for Mum and, I hoped, a slushie for me. My cotton floral dress was sticking to the polyester seat. Mum was humming along to a song by her favourite piano rock artist. She stopped at a red light.

“Sweetheart, look in the park, there’s Santa!” Mum exclaimed.

We looked. He was a sorry excuse for Santa. Even from a distance I could see his shoes were scuffed and the suit was tattered and faded. His belt wasn’t shiny, in fact, it wasn’t even a belt; I think it was a scarf. The beard-strap was clearly visible and his cap was missing the pompom.

“He looks terrible,” I said.

“Oh, that’s not the real Santa,” Mum corrected herself. “He’s just helping Santa out, like the elves do.”

She returned to her humming, so she didn’t hear my older brother whisper there was no real Santa.

My eyes widened. My jaw dropped. I stared amazedly at my brother, eleven, who was sagely nodding. My heart was racing. My brother put his hand on my shoulder, consoling. I blinked. No real Santa. My brother removed his hand.

I turned and saw my Dad, twisted in the front passenger seat, looking directly at me. He had heard my brother. He had seen that moment. I could see he wanted to console me, so I gave the smallest nod and slightest smile to let him know I was okay. His chest heaved with a silent, heavy sigh. The traffic light changed. Dad turned to face front. I wanted to console him, but I couldn’t.

Mum sang softly along, “…but I know that the ice is getting thin…” as she moved the car toward bromeliads and Dad-purchased slushies.


Michael Sams started writing short stories as a boy. He won a couple of competitions and attended a writing camp where he was mentored by published authors. In the last couple of years, he has been writing short plays. He has had several performed in various cities around the world. In the last couple of months he has returned to short story writing and is enjoying it immensely. Email: mike.sams003[at]