Katie and the Christmas Chimney
Written by Bertie
Read by Natasha
Illustration by Shutterstock
In history lessons, Katie and her class were studying the time of Queen Victoria, who reigned over Great Britain from 1837 to 1901. It was an amazing period when engineers built tunnels, bridges, and railways, and explorers trekked through the jungles, and writers turned out some of the best novels and poems ever.
But Katie’s history teacher, Mr. Old, only seemed interested in all the bad stuff. For homework, everyone had to prepare a project on how terrible it had been to be a child born into Victorian times. Katie researched Victorian schools. It seemed that education in those days meant one thing: suffering. The teachers of days gone-by made Miss Vile seem like a pussycat. They revelled in beating children with thin canes, and making them kneel for hours on a stone floor.
The only good thing you could say about going to school in the 1800s, was that it was better than the alternatives, which if you came from a poor family, could be pretty gruesome.
For example, some children as young as six, worked as chimney sweeps. Their lives were so terrible that Katie’s best friend, Isis, was close to tears when she presented her findings on them to the class. She explained how small children had to climb up chimneys, scraping their hands and knees, getting covered in soot, and always at risk of getting stuck there. Sometimes, if they were too slow, the master sweep would light a fire to hurry them up.
When Isis had finished relating all this, Mr. Old gave everyone a chance to ask questions. Samantha put up her hand and said, “Does Santa ever get stuck in the chimney?” And everyone laughed, except for Isis who felt that someone was poking fun at her hard work.
Isis was a little surprised when, afterwards, Samantha invited her to a Christmas party.
“My parents hold it every year,” explained Samantha. “It’s mainly for boring grown-ups, but I’m allowed to invite three friends my own age, and I would like you to come.”
“Well, I’m honoured,’ said Isis.
“Look, I know we don’t always get on,” said Samantha, “but I really did like your presentation, and I wasn’t taking the mick when I asked that question. You see, when I was little, my mother told me that Santa wasn’t coming that year because he had eaten too much pudding and got stuck in a chimney in Essex. I believed her, and I cried for the whole of December.”
“Oh, poor little you,” said Isis, who really did have a soft heart, and she gave her one-time enemy a hug.
Later, Isis told Katie about her unexpected invitation.
“Hmm,” said Katie, who really did not like Samantha, “You’re not going are you? It’s bound to be ghastly.”
“Of course I accepted,” replied Isis, “It would be rude to refuse the hand of friendship, and besides, I feel sorry for Samantha. Imagine if you are really little and somebody tells you that Santa isn’t coming. It’s enough to traumatise someone for life. No wonder she’s the way she is.”
“Spiteful,” added Katie.
“Listen,” said Isis, “I’d really like to do something to help Samantha. I think she hasn’t got over the pain of that childhood trauma, and if we can help heal her, she might be a nicer person.”
Katie shook her head: “What trauma? Her parents are filthy rich. She’s spoilt because her life’s too cushy.”
“Oh, Katie!” said Isis with a sigh, “everyone has their weak and vulnerable spots. Come on. Let’s help her. I’ve got such a crazy idea. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Santa came down the chimney at the Christmas party and gave everyone presents? That would be truly magical - and healing - and I’m sure she would be a better person afterwards.”
“Sure, call him and ask if he’ll do it!”
“But don’t you see?” pleaded Isis, “You can do magic. You could make something like that happen, or seem to happen. Even if it’s just somebody who looks like Santa, it would be an incredible surprise… Oh come on Katie, a good turn always comes back to you, and after all, it’s Christmas!”
Katie wasn’t interested in the plan, but Isis kept on asking and asking, and over the next few days, with the repetition, the idea began to sound quite normal, and not so bonkers after all.
It was the Friday before Christmas. School had finished for the year. Everyone was in a great mood, especially Isis who was going to Samantha’s party. Katie was in her room. She wondered what she would do. Then she looked in the mirror, and touched her ears.
“Ping!” They went all pointed. She laughed back at her reflection. Then she turned the pages of her magic book, and found the spell for turning herself into a full elf. It only took a few minor changes to the magic words to make herself into a special Christmas elf with a white beard and a red nose. Solomon, her cat, looked at her curiously and thought, “That’s no good, whoever saw a skinny Santa?”
“You’re right,” said Katie, and she found a spell to make her tummy fat. She was quite short in her new form, about the size of a six year old child, and the big belly did not feel at all comfortable, but as she glanced in the mirror she really did look
like a “jolly little elf”. All she needed now was a red dressing gown, and fortunately she had one in her cupboard. She quickly shrank it to the right size and put it on.
Now, of course Santa is supposed go around in a magical sleigh pulled by reindeer. Katie not have those, but she did have a broomstick and a cat. She went out into the back yard, climbed aboard her stick with Solomon, and off they flew through the winter night.
Katie brought the broomstick down onto the roof of Samantha’s house. It was a Victorian building, rather grand, and still had a nice big chimney. It took a little magic to loosen the clay pot off the top of it and place it on a flat part of the roof above the modern extension. Katie peered into the opening in the top of the chimney flue. It was going to be a tight fit.
“She’s not going down there, is she?” thought Solomon, “Has she gone crazy?”
Katie lowered herself into the chimney. She threw her arms straight up, and WOOOSH! … she fell straight down. “AAAAAH!” she screamed. Somehow she managed to slow herself by lifting up her legs. OUCH! Her knees were scraped and her dressing gown was torn, but at least she wasn’t falling any more. It was totally dark in the chimney, and not at all nice.
“AH, AH, CHOO!”
Soot was getting up her nose, and she felt all grimy. Slowly, she began to edge her way down. “I’m going to be a very dirty Santa when I arrive,” she thought to herself, “but what do people expect? If they don’t clean their chimneys then they can’t complain if Santa wipes his feet on their hearth rug.”
Then she remembered that she hadn’t brought any presents. “Never mind,” she said to herself, “there’s bound to be some under the tree, I’ll just hand out those.”
The whole thing was starting to seem like not such a great idea when - oh no - that was confirmed. Katie found that she could not move. Either the chimney had got narrower, or she had got fatter, but either way, she was stuck.
This was scary. Katie began to panic. She was breathing heavily and she could feel her belly expanding in the tight space.
“I must think of the thin spell,” she was saying to herself. But sometimes, when you are really flustered, it’s hard to remember things. The slimming spell was well-know enough in magical circles, which is why you hardly ever see a rotund witch. There was one who had made tons of money by bottling it up it with carrot juice. In her mind’s eye, Katie could sort of see the right page in her magic book, but the words were all blurry. Then she remembered it - yes - in the form she had learned, you had to turn around three times - but how was she to do that when she was stuck in the chimney?
“I know,” I’ll get Isis to turn around,” she thought, “It’s worth a try. After all, she’s my best friend so we must have a magical connection.” Her phone was in the pocket of her dressing gown, but she couldn’t reach it. Instead, she thought really, really hard, and sent a brain wave as a text to Isis’s phone. “I do hope it’s not on silent,” she thought.
Tring! - Isis heard the message alert, and said, “Excuse me,” to Samantha’s cousin, to whom she was chatting, and glanced at her phone. The text said:
“I’m in the chimney - stuck - think of me and turn around three times. It’s my only hope for getting out of here”.
“Er, excuse me again,” said Isis, and she turned around three times thinking of Katie. The cousin, whose name was Ralph, and who was really quite good looking, in a slightly cruel sort of way, stared at Isis.
“It’s for good luck - just a Christmas tradition in our family,” said Isis, trying not to show how concerned she was. She glanced over to the fireplace, not quite sure what to expect - was Katie really going to drop down the chimney?
The fire lit itself and flames started to do a little dance around the wooden logs.
“Did you see that?” asked Ralph,
Isis nodded. “I don’t think that was supposed to happen,” she said.
And it wasn’t. The spell had gone badly wrong, and now Katie, up in the chimney, was starting to feel the heat. It was getting warm, really warm, too warm.
“Help!!!!!!!” she called out.
“Did you hear that?” asked Ralph. “It sounded like a ghost in the chimney.
“Must be the wind,” said Isis, who was now extremely worried. But what could she do? Should she tell Samantha's mother that her friend was stuck up her chimney?
“Help!!!!” called out Katie again.
Up on the roof, Solomon peered into the chimney with his green eyes. “Hmmm, I think the silly girl’s got stuck,” he purred. He placed his paw above the hole and began to fish with it. Gradually a magical force began to jog Katie up and down a bit until - what a relief! - she was free - but instead of dropping down to the hearth, she was lured up to the top by Solomon.
Katie scrambled out onto the roof - gasping in the fresh, cold air.
“What on earth did you think you were doing?” thought Solomon.
“I, I was playing at being Santa,” said Katie.
“Santa?” Just look at yourself. You’re filthy,” said Solomon. He couldn’t help himself, he was talking out loud now, even though he was forbidden to do that. “If anyone saw you come creeping into their house, they’d call the police,” he said.
And Katie replied, “Yes, climbing up and down chimneys is a dirty, dangerous business. Kids these days don’t know how lucky they are.”
Her phone rang. Now she was free, she could reach into her dressing gown pocket and take it out. It was Isis, anxious to know how she was.
“I’m ok, thanks,” said Katie, “Just a bit shaken. I did my best, but I’m really sorry, Santa won’t be coming to the Christmas party this year.”
“That’s ok,” said Isis, “For once, I don’t think anyone will mind if Santa does not turn up. I’m just happy that you are safe.”
“Thank you,” said Katie, “So am I.”
Just as she spoke, the doorbell rang, and Santa came into the party with a sack of presents and started to hand them out with lots of Yo Ho Hos. It was a surprise thought up by Samantha’s mum. Everyone was delighted and nobody asked how somebody so large could ever get down a chimney.
And that was the story of Katie and the Christmas Chimney, written by Bertie, and read by me, Natasha, for storynory.com
I do hope you enjoyed it. And Bertie has asked me to tell you that you can find loads more Katie stories, including our recent one about The Perfect Baby Sitting business. And, if you are still buying your Christmas presents, take a peep on Amazon for Storynory’s new book. It’s called Waking Beauty, by Hugh Fraser, all about the mysterious Princess Talia at Oxford University. It’s probably great if you are about ten years old, give or take a few years. Make sure you get the Storynory version! For now, from me, Natasha Happy Christmas !!!!