The advert had stipulated ‘Bring your own boots’. Kanti looked at the men’s feet. Most wore wellies. One had work-boots, dusty at the toes. The man at the far end wore Doc Martens.

She referred to the list on the clipboard she’d been given. She was singled out for this task, she was sure, because it was the store’s idea of positive discrimination; she could just hear Mr Armstrong saying, “Put the Paki in charge of picking Santa.” Mr Armstrong had a hat with mistletoe on it, which he kept tipping at all the women on the shop floor: “Pucker up, girls!” Fat chance of that. Nasty bullying creep.

Kanti’s name meant Shine. Her parents said, “She’ll shine in this job!” How exactly anyone could shine, stacking shelves in a department store, Kanti didn’t ask. “It’s only a Christmas job,” she said, “until college starts again.” Sometimes she wondered whether her family didn’t think college was the hobby, while this — clipboard, name-tag — was the serious work. A shuffle of booted feet retrieved her attention. “I’ll see Mr Truman first,” she decided.

Chris Truman had a beard and glasses. It should’ve been a bonus but this was south Manchester, England; he looked too much like Harold Shipman. Megan, Kanti’s co-worker, had advised, “Don’t pick anyone who looks like a kiddy-fiddler or a perve.” Kanti suspected ‘mass murdering general practitioner’ fell under the banner of ‘perve’. She thanked Mr Truman, asked him to send in the next candidate.

Monosyllabic was the only way to describe most of the interviewees. Kanti couldn’t imagine one of them striking up a conversation with an excited child about the impending holiday; most had difficulty speaking their own names.

She was making notes on her clipboard when the final candidate came into the office. He sat, Doc Martens planted apart. Kanti looked up. He was in his forties, white hair buzzcut to scalp, face like a knuckled fist. She considered his actual fists, resting on denim knees. HATE was tattooed across the left one, LOVE across the right.


“Trevor.” The name came out sounding like a bag of nails being dropped down a chimney. “Trevor Snow.”

“May I ask why you want this job, Trevor?”

“To get rid of this.” He tugged at the collar of his shirt, revealed a blue swastika. “They can take it off but it’s expensive. That’s why I need the money.”

She waited, unsure what to say.

“I used to be a bit of an arsehole.” Trevor offered up his fists. “These, too. But I thought I could wear gloves.” A sudden, hopeful smile transformed his face. “I could bring my own, from home? Only I know what it looks like. I’m not, though. Just need a chance to prove it.”

Kanti thought about it, picturing Mr Armstrong’s face. She stood and put out her hand. Trevor followed her lead. His handshake was gentle, despite the LOVE and HATE.

“Mr Snow,” she said, “I think we’ve found our Santa.”

Sarah Hilary won the Fish Historical-Crime Contest with Fall River, August 1892, and has two stories in the Fish anthology 2008. She was a runner-up in the Biscuit Short Story Contest 2008. MO: Crimes of Practice, the Crime Writers’ Association anthology, features Sarah’s story, “One Last Pick-Up”. Her work appears in Smokelong Quarterly, Literary Fever, Every Day Fiction, Ranfurly Review and Zygote in my Coffee. Sarah blogs at http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.com/.

Rate this story:
 average 4.3 stars • 6 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • That is a wonderful, wonderful, story Sarah!

  • Definitely a 5 Stars Christmas story!



  • Happy Christmas, Sarah and indeed EVERYONE 🙂

  • Nice turn, Sarah. Super Christmas Day story. 😉

  • Dav.Colpman

    Ho ho ho! Lovely story, Sarah.

  • Superb Christmas piece.

  • Oscar Windsor-Smith

    Couldn’t ask for a better Christmas story, Sarah. Thank you.
    Yours is a tale full of hope, completely against stereotypes, and beautifully, economically, written (apologies for the adverbs; it must be the Christmas spirit 🙂 ).

    Reminds me of a TV show a year or so back in which a group of people were put through a series of tests to prove their suitability – or otherwise – for some sort of creative/caring job. The clear winner was a guy rather your Trevor Snow. Books and covers? We’re all simply human beings.

    Hope for a New Year.

    Thanks again.

    😉 scar

    BTW, 1) The only Kanti I know is a guy, but he’s in a caring job, so I guess he ‘shines’, too.
    BTW, 2) For Everyday Fiction: once again the emailed version of this story did not present me with the ‘respond’ choice. Had to log on to the website.

  • Jen

    Aww, what a lovely little Christmas story! Christmas *is* a good time for second chances, after all.

  • Marie Shield

    Lovely way to start Christmas day – with your story. The end was expected and that’s not at all a bad thing with a story that’s meant to carry a ‘spirit of Christmas’.

  • Thank you everyone, and Happy Christmas!

  • Ho Ho Ho! This is a good one! Merry Christmas!

  • Good story. 🙂

  • Awesome story, they sound like good tattoos

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

    Happy Christmas Sarah, and a merry New Year!


  • Justine

    Lovely, Sarah! Dare I say it shines. Happy Christmas.

  • Thank you, everyone for the warm response to this story. I hope you’re all having wonderful holidays. Sarah xx

  • Great story, Sarah.

    I remember this one, and it get’s better with each reading!

    Hope you had a great Christmas. See you back at WW.


  • Thanks, John, you’re very kind. I had a lovely Christmas and hope you did too. See you soon. xx

  • Good one, Sarah. Made me smile. Love the line “face like a knuckled fist”!

  • Thank you, Madeline!

  • Nice story. I like that she was willing to take a chance.

  • Celeste

    I think everyone’s said it all. As usual, beautifully written, Sarah. Happy Christmas to you. x

  • Thanks, Erin, I’m about to read yours. Catching up after Christmas…

  • And to you, Celeste, thank you for reading.

  • Lovely Christmas story, Sarah.

    I always wonder who gave Santa his job.

  • Shezan

    Three or four separate life stories, intersected – and one connection, just there. I love how you make us get Trevor so economically. Happy Christmas!

  • A Happy Christmas for Kanti and Trevor. Wonderful Christmas Tale, Sarah!


  • Thanks, Kevin, Shezan and DJ.

  • jennifer walmsley

    A lovely story, Sarah. Made me feel warm.

  • Thanks, Jennifer.

  • I liked this. Sweet! 🙂

  • Thank you, Hasmita!