Page 30 - Scene Magazine 44-12 December 2018
P. 30

SCENE MAGAZINE’S CHRISTMAS STORY CONTEST
A FICTIONAL STORY BY FAITH O’DELL
Raising Reindeer
Note to self: Never leave baby reindeer alone in the house, especially if they’re just starting to learn to fly.
Growing up, most elves dream of making toys, or baking cookies. I was no exception; I wanted to make dolls, or shoes. Even making candy canes or socks, I would’ve been fine. Anything to make kids happy on Christmas.
I didn’t expect the job I would get.
“Hmm. Let’s see,” an older elf ran his finger down a long list of young elves and their new jobs. He stopped halfway down. “Here you are. Ivy Lightwood, Reindeer Care.”
“W-What,” I stammered, “But- but I thought that job was already taken.”
“It was,” he said. “But the last guy just retired.”
I sighed, leaving the office and heading out to the stables. Could be worse, I thought. Could be coal duty. I shuddered at the thought.
I was greeted by an old, hunched-over elf with a cane named Pine at the door- way of the stables.
“You Ivy Lightwood?” he wheezed.
I told him I was. He beamed. “Good, good. Now, I’m gonna tell you a secret about these here reindeer. The current ones pulling the Big Guy’s sleigh are getting old. According to regulation, we’re
supposed to let ‘em retire after they turn twelve, so they can live out the rest of their lives in peace.”
Mr. Pine guided me through the stables, past the reindeer in question.
“Of course, we can’t just let ‘em retire and not have anybody to replace them. That’s where these little fellers come in.” He stopped at a group of stalls with two or three baby reindeer in each, all under a year old.
“Your job, Miz Lightwood,” the old elf continued, “Is to raise these here fellers until they’re ready to fly next year. Ya’ gotta feed ‘em, clean ‘em, when it comes time, ya’ gotta make sure they can fly right.” He began to walk away, relying heavily on his cane. “If you need me,
I’ll be in Hawaii, on the beach, enjoying myself for the first time in thirty years.” He left.
I looked around. Each baby had a thin bronze name tag tied around its neck with red ribbon. They looked up at me, their big dark eyes blinking in a slightly confused way.
“Well guys,” I made eye contact with a reindeer named Donner XIII. “Looks like I’m your new mom.”
The first few months went by surpris- ingly easily. I fed them, I let them roam around outside with the older reindeer
and made sure they all got back into the stables at night. Before long, both the babies and the older reindeer got used to me, accepting the fact that I was their new caretaker. Even before I started the day’s work, they would trot over to me, begging for treats (they were very fond of a specific type of moss).
This is great, I thought, so much better than making candy canes.
Things were going great. The months passed with ease, and I couldn’t have asked for a better job.
Then came training.
Dasher was stubborn as a mule; Dancer and Prancer kept running off. Vixen, Comet, and Cupid never wanted to wear their harnesses (Cupid was scared of the bells. Vixen and Comet were just jerks). Donner was constantly falling asleep, and Blitzen kept ramming her newly grown horn stubs into everyone, including me.
But the worst reindeer of all was
a little, dark brown deer by the name Rudolf V. She was the worst reindeer in the entire North Pole. I guess being the descendant of the most famous reindeer in the world made her feel entitled. No amount of moss treats, begging, or extra food would push her to listen; she’d just turn up her little snout and trot away.
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