Painting by Miranda Koerner
Piper Pumpernickel had a predicament. As a modern, fashionable elf, she eschewed flats, abhorred tennis shoes and wouldn’t even look at loafers. She had a closet full of gorgeous heels, stunning sandals and breathtaking stilettos. There was only one problem.
She couldn’t wear any of them.
“This is ridiculous,” she groused to Vince, the Head Elf. She stuck out her foot and wiggled it so the golden bells on the curled toe jingled. ”Does this look cute to you?”
Vince shrugged. ”We’re elves. Everything about us is cute.”
“Curled toes are not cute,” Piper argued, following him down the winding red staircase to the master closet. Normally her favorite spot, today it just fueled her rage as her jaunty shoes jingled with every step. ”If I had normal toes, I could wear cute shoes. Couture shoes, like everyone Down Below. Instead, I have to wear this!” She thrust out her red velvet shoe, the tiny golden bells merrily ringing.
Vince sighed. ”Piper, only one elf born out of every year is a girl. What do you think a bunch of male elves are going to do with heels?”
“I’m not asking you to wear them!”
“You know the rules.” Vince pointed to a scroll on the wall. ”Dress code is red velvet dress or suit and shoes. Same for every elf. Even Mr. and Mrs. Claus abide by it.”
“But it doesn’t say what kind of shoes,” Piper argued. “Santa wears black boots. Mrs. Claus wears white ones.”
She thrust a sketch at him. ”Can’t you just show this to your shoe elves? I think all the girl elves would be much happier in cute shoes. Think how many more toys there would be!” Piper waved a folder she’d hidden under her skirt. ”And I have a lot more where that came from.”
Vince barely glanced at the page. ”Piper, that’s cute, but it’s four days before Christmas. No one has time to design a new shoe. Especially for elves.”
“But you can’t expect me to wear these to the Christmas party!” Piper pouted, stomping so hard she jingled. ”It’s my first Christmas party! I want to look cute!”
“All elves are cute.”
“You know what I mean. Please?” Piper pouted, widening her eyes as far out as her skin would stretch. Her lower lip stuck out so far it almost dropped off her chin. But to Vince, she might as well have been a snowman.
“Sorry Piper.” Vince handed her the sketch, scurrying off towards the coat room. ”See you at the party, huh?”
Piper deflated as the door swung shut behind him. Letting the paper slip from her fingers, she left her sketch on the floor. Along with her dreams.
By the time Christmas night came, the exhausted and exhilarated elves were in a frenzy. The toys had been delivered, Santa was home, the reindeer were fed and all there was to do was dance and eat and sing. Wearing her brand new green dress she had designed herself, Piper sulked in the corner, curling a strand of white hair around her finger.
“Some party,” she muttered, kicking her red velvet shoes. ”I don’t know why I even bothered to come.”
“Excuse me.” Piper raised her eyes to a very familiar beard and twinkling dark eyes. ”Hi Santa,” she squeaked.
“I believe you forgot these.” He held out his hand. In his palm lay the shoes from her sketch. Piper sucked in her breath. ”But…how did you.. I mean when…. what?”
Santa chortled, his belly straining the suspenders of his red velvet pants. ”Merry Christmas, Piper. I hope it’s a cute one.”
“Merry Christmas, Santa. Thank you.” Dazed and flushed, Piper took the shoes and slid them on as the jolly old man waltzed away. Smoothing her dress, she clicked her heels together and grinned.
Her toes were definitely cute.
Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! More Christmas tales to come!
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