This is a short story composed in honor of this day, which I provide as a gift to my readers. Merry Christmas.
Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus
By John C. Wright @ 2013
Her name was Ginny. She was six years old, and it was Christmas Eve.
Her eyelids trembled and slowly her eyes closed. With a painful effort, she tried to stay awake. For a moment, her face was utterly at peace. Then with a little sigh of effort, her eyelids fluttered open.
“Mommy…? Is it all right…?”
“Hush, now,” Her mother replied. “Everything is all right.”
“Mommy, is it all right if I stay up until Saint Nicholas comes? Just this once? I won’t ask again.”
Her mother’s name was also Virginia. She was bent over the bed, passing her hand over her daughter’s face, comforting, soothing.
“Yes … just this once … Stay awake. Stay awake for Santa Claus, baby…”
Virginia passed her hand over her daughter’s head as if to smooth to curly blonde hair; but Ginny had no hair any longer.
“… I hear the sleigh bells ….” Ginny said. “He’s coming … How will he fit…?”
“What was that?” Virginia bent close to her daughter’s barely-moving lips.
“No chimney. There is no chimney here. How will Saint Nicholas get in?”
There was no chimney in the terminal ward of the children’s hospital.
“He’ll think of something, baby. He’s Santa. Just have faith. Just hold on.”
One of the many blinking boxes connected to the little girl gave off an alarm which sounded like a bright, sharp ringing as if from small bells. Ginny smiled weakly at the noise, no doubt thinking it was sleigh bells, and said, “Will I see Saint Nicholas?”
“Yes, darling, O, yes my darling.” Virginia’s eyes were bright with unshed tears. “Santa Claus is coming. You will see him.”
The medical technicians and the nurses, voices tense but low, uttering precise commands as quickly and crisply as a priest conducting a well-known and long-beloved ritual, continued their desperate work as one alarm and then the next rang out. There was no room around the bed for Virginia to stand and hold her daughter’s hand.
The doctor told her not to worry. He gave Virginia some vague reassurance, as false but well-meant as telling a child to believe in Santa Claus.
The little girl’s eyelids trembled and slowly her eyes closed. She tried to stay awake.
After two hours and a half, as one alarm after another fell silent, and one monitor after another showed a flat line, they stopped their attempt to revive her. The doctor signed the certificate, showing the time of death as 11: 53. Seven minutes before Christmas Day.
She had lived to be six years old, and it was Christmas Eve. Her name had been Ginny.