"Of Soot and
Santa" - By Daniel Brantly (Exclusive to Santa.CC)
Sure it's magical.
As it sat in the corner, the velveteen Santa suit appeared as
magical as a pair of pliers. The thought made Darren snicker.
The only difference is that a pair of pliers is immediately
useful, he said to himself.
before-decades actually, Darren's grandfather had tried to fill
Darren's head with fantastical stories about some chubby guy who
would come by every year, snatch that very suit that was now in
Darren's duplex, fly around the globe in a reindeer-powered sleigh,
and squeeze through chimney after chimney, leaving behind nothing
but a couple of sooty footprints and a stack of presents.
There would be candies
and pellet guns for the boys, hair bows and dolls for the girls,
and some rather boring things for the kids' parents. Darren remembered
the tale's simplicity, his grandfather's insistence of its truth,
and most important, his own unwillingness to put his reasoning
aside and believe in something outside of what he could touch
and see right that moment.
And he hadn't changed
a bit. Despite growing a bit softer physically and mentally by
the passage of time, Darren still held fast to his belief that
Santa Claus was little more than a myth, the Santa suit a powerless
sign of a powerless children's story.
Yet in honor of his
grandfather, Darren had the old Santa suit out in the old corner
chair in the living room. He'd even had it cleaned and pressed,
just as his grandfather had year after year. Because while his
grandfather passed away three months earlier and Darren knew in
his heart of hearts that the Santa suit held no magic powers, it did hold some strength over Darren. A power Darren
readily admitted to. The power of sentimentality.
while Darren resisted the idea of anything bigger than his 800-square-foot
duplex, he was a sucker for sentiment. It's why he listened
to his grandfather's story year after year, regardless of his
own thoughts on Santa and his grandfather's supposedly special
Santa suit. It's why he stared long at the freshly cleaned and
pressed suit that rested innocently on the corner chair, clashing
brilliantly against the chair's fading yellow fabric.
I miss you, Grandpa,
he sighed, as he wiped a single tear away.
With that, Darren turned
from the Santa suit and headed into the kitchen to finish cooking
his dinner of chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. As he sat
down at his rickety kitchen table, something caught his eye.
He looked deeper into
the living room.
My mind's playing
tricks on me, he said to no one. That suit's not going
Finishing his nuggets
and chugging his milk, Darren changed into his beige pajamas,
brushed his teeth without vigor, and roamed his way down the hall
and into bed. As he lay there, a noise caught his imagination.
Living in the city, he had grown accustomed to incessant noises.
There were cars, planes, buses, people, doors being opened and
shut, rattling windows, and sirens. If it weren't noisy, Darren
would think something was suspicious.
But this wasn't a city
noise. It wasn't brash and loud. It wasn't someone honking a horn
to get someone living on the third story to wake up. This sound
was little more than a brushing, a breath of calm wind. This sound
wasn't meant to be heard.
Darren sat upright
in his bed.
It wasn't meant
to be heard.
He flung the covers
off himself, slid on his backless house shoes, stepped to the
door. He grabbed the handle, turned, paused.
Breathing heavy, Darren
laughed as his heart pummeled his chest. He laughed at his grandfather,
the clean and pressed Santa suit he knew was still in the living
room, and his own near brush with belief.
It's all silliness,
he repeated to himself over and over, his laughter growing louder
with each repetition.
A short while later,
he was asleep with a smug smile that told all of the believers
of Santa Claus that they were fools and he-Darren Douglas-was
When the alarm sounded
seven hours later, Darren had moved beyond Santa Claus and was
instead concerned with the tasks of daily life. He combed his
hair, put on a white collared shirt and khaki pants, and made
a mental to-do list.
Walking into the kitchen,
something caught his eye. Something was in the corner of the living
room, sitting on an old chair. Darren turned and gasped.
There on the chair
was the Santa suit Darren had cleaned and pressed only 24 hours
earlier. But now, Darren could barely recognize it through the
slight dusting of soot that covered the entire suit from head