A clacking sound caught her attention; Mandy glanced over to her small computer console to see a flashing red light blinking, it was to remind her it was time to get up. School was waiting. The airlock to her room opened, and her mother came in. She had a big smile on her face upon seeing her daughter already dressed and waiting.
“Good morning my sweet angel, how did you sleep last night?” Jane Charles was a beautiful woman, tall and slim with short black hair and gleaming blue eyes, unlike her daughter who had long dark-brown hair and hazel brown eyes. Jane was thirty-two years of age and one of the leading scientists in her field along with her husband Arthur Charles. “Today is the last school day before Christmas, so I suggest you be on your best behavior ok? First breakfast though.”
“Do we have to spend Christmas again without a tree?” Mandy asked her mother, her voice sounding so sad it almost broke Jane´s heart. “I hate it up here; I wish I could play outside like those children on those pictures you showed me and I wish I could meet Cindy so we could play together. And it´s cold in here.”
“Oh honey, it´s only in your imagination, not cold in here at all.” Jane took her daughter in her arms and hugged her. “After school if you want, you may use the com-link to earth, and you may send a letter to Father Christmas, how about that?”
Mandy smiled from ear to ear. “Can I ask him for anything I want?”
Jane chuckled. “Whatever your heart desires my sweet, whatever your heart desires.”
“Even if it means we can go home?” Mandy asked her mother.
Jane shook her head. “Anything but that my sweet, we will be up here for at least six more years and then, I promise you we will return to earth.”
“Okay mama, I promise I won´t ask, he couldn´t give me that anyway so what´s the use asking.” Mandy replied sadly but she bravely smiled. “After school I will give Santa a call.”
“Okay honey, come on then, let´s get some breakfast before your father eats it all, and we don´t get a thing.” Jane took her daughter by the hand, opened the airlock to make their way to their tiny but comfortable dining room.
My name is Mandy, Mandy Charles. I´m not sure if this is going to get to you because I am here in a space station with my mama and papa behind the moon. They are scientists, and they are exploring the dark side because some years ago someone found something there. Don´t ask me what, I don´t know, after all, I am only seven years old. Santa, I don´t want you to think I am a crybaby, but I want to ask you something. Could you please go and visit my cousin Cindy and my grandparents, take good care of them and please dear Santa, give Cindy all the presents she asks for?" Mandy paused for a second; she looked out the window and was surprised to be able to see the earth, a long way, in the distance. Homesickness plagued her; tears ran down her cheeks. “Sorry Santa, I have just looked out of my window, and I could see the earth. Can you imagine seeing the earth set and not the moon? Well, that is what I see, which may sound strange to you, you see the moon come out at night. I don´t even know what night is, let alone day. It´s all the same up here, we live by the clock which tells us when we need to sleep, wake up, eat and whatever else needs to be done. When you look up tonight just glance up at the moon, you just might be lucky to be able to see us, a tiny sparkle against the blackness of space. I mean, there are lots and lots of stars but only one of us. Before you leave to bring the children their presents just take a quick look up and wave. I will be waving down to you on Christmas Eve, to you and Rudolph, Prancer, Dancer and the other reindeer and to all your helper elves.
Dear Santa, I don´t want anything for myself, only that my mama and papa do their jobs, so we can go back home. I want to be able to see and feel the sun as it comes up in the morning, see the moon going down at night, the sound of the wind in the trees and the birds as they sing. The flowers and the bees and even the odd mosquito at night as it tries to eat me.” Mandy giggled. “Not that I´m going to like mosquitoes.” She became serious again. “We do not have a Christmas tree up here because of it´s weight, but presents would have to wait until we got back to earth. I really don´t want many presents dear Santa, but I would love for mama and papa only wonderful things. That they are happy and know that even if I am not always good that I love them more than anything else in the whole wide world and the moon. Tonight is Christmas Eve, so I´ll stop sending now; I know that you and your elves have a lot to do, with loading up your sled, harnessing the reindeer and such. Give Rudolph a big kiss from me. Take care Santa, fly carefully. Lots of love, Mandy from behind the moon.”
All was still. Mandy was fast asleep, having been belted down for the night; she dreamed of being at home with her parents, sitting under a Christmas tree lit up with coloured lights, glittering in gold and red and silver. Heaps and heaps of presents lying beneath it, wrapped in colourful paper, tied with ribbons and bows.
Mandy´s parents were both sleeping; the only sounds came from the air purifier and the engines keeping the station in orbit.
A shadow moved closer to the station, pausing for a moment to find a way in. It was uncanny as it settled against the outer skin of the station, it settled with a ever so slight bump, but nobody inside noticed it. The inside hatch was opened, and a sizeable figure in a silver suit forced his way through, on his back a large gray airtight sack. Slowly, so as not to awaken anyone, the figure crept into the stations´s dining room.
Mandy woke up with a start.
“What is that?” She whispered. “What a strange sound.”
She was woken up by the sound of bells. Jingle bells, circling the station, or at least, it sounded like that. She sprang out of bed after having released the belts to jump onto the cold floor. Barefoot, she raced to her parent´s bedroom but just before she could open the door she stopped. The sound was now coming from the dining room. The soft sound of laughter, a deep hearty laugh and it intrigued the little girl. Never before had she heard such a merry laugh, so she, without waking her mama and papa, slowly moved toward the sound of laughter. She suddenly smelled something delicious, the smell of sweet biscuits and cake. Her mouth filled with water at the thought.
“Mama and papa have decided to celebrate Christmas after all.”
A thrill went through her. The thought of presents shot through her mind.
“Ho ho ho.” The laughter began to grow louder now and the sound of jingling bells tickled her ears. Mandy giggled, carefully she pushed to open the door and looked inside. Her eyes opened wide as she walked further into the room.
A tree, a tree with blinking red, white, blue and green lights, tinsel and colourful trinkets greeted her, beneath a large heap of colourful wrapped packages and plates of biscuits and cakes and sweets of all kinds.
There was someone standing there, a big man dressed in red, on his head a red hat, or at least it looked like that to Mandy. Under the hat long curly white hair, and the man´s face was almost completely covered with a white beard and mustache. Laughing blue eyes watched her.
“Hallo little Mandy, Merry Christmas to you little space child.” The voice was deep and gravelly but soft and warm. “Come to me little one. I will not hurt you so do not be afraid.”
Mandy stared at the strange man. “Are you Santa Claus?”
The man chuckled. “Do you want me to be Santa Claus?”
Mandy nodded. “Well, are you? Where is your sled, and Rudolph, Dancer and Prancer and the other reindeer? How did you get out here, you do know this is behind the moon don´t you?”
The man chuckled again. “Oh I know very well where I am. I got your message, and I thought to myself; I should come and see to you before I go back to the north pole so here I am.”
Common sense told Mandy that he could only be lying, not even Santa Claus could survive in space without a space ship of some kind, so she shook her head. “I´m dreaming aren´t I?” She sounded disappointed. “You are only a figment of my imagination.” She turned to leave the room.
“Mandy, come to me and touch me if you want, I am as real as you are and no, this is not a dream.” The man chuckled again. “ The man Mandy thought to be Santa Claus moved toward her; his hands raised showing her his palms. “I am who you say I am, and you are the only person I have spoken to for quite some time. Most people don´t believe in me anymore so after I had heard your transmission you sent to me; I cried. I cried so I packed a whole heap of presents for you and your parents and made my way to see you, one of the few genuine believers of Christmas, a little girl who wasn’t born on earth, Mandy from behind the moon.”
The airlock to her parent´s room opened.
“My parents are awake now, will you speak with them as well?” Mandy asked Santa.
He shook his head. “No, I can´t but that doesn´t matter. I have spoken to my new little friend, but now I really have to go or my reindeer will be getting worried because I have been gone so long.”
“I haven´t got anything for you.” Mandy looked around but there was nothing she could give him.
“Don´t worry little Mandy, your friendship is present enough, enough to last me for many years to come, but now I must leave you.” Santa laughed softly as he began to fade. “Enjoy your gifts.”
A voice called out. “Mandy, is that you in there, you are up early.”
Mandy turned around. “Mama, papa, come quickly, Santa Claus was here, and he left us presents and even a Christmas tree!”
The door was thrust ajar, and a perplexed Jane and Mandy´s father came rushing in and upon seeing the tree they just stood there open mouthed. The sound of jingling bells pulled them out of their lethargy, they ran to the window to look out.
“I don´t believe it.”
In the distance, they made out what appeared to be a sled, on which a large man all dressed in red was being pulled by six reindeers.
Behind them, Mandy called out happily. “Merry Christmas mama and papa!”