Arwin found that driving the 'Santa Special' was more of an adventure than she had expected...
The little girl sitting behind Arwin, named Suzie, yelled out... "Let's pretend THIS is a flying bus." The children all yelled yes.. and Arwin agreed. "Is the bus ready for take off children," Arwin asked. "All presents loaded and labeled ma'am," said the little girl. Arwin chuckled as the little girl saluted. "O.K." Arwin beeped the horn... and the bus slowly lifted off the ground. "Get ready for a grand adventure everyone!"
Now the bus didn't REALLY fly... but it sure did seem to float across the snowy road with ease. The snow had stopped again and Arwin had the children in the palm of her hand. She hated to admit it but she WAS having fun. It had been sooo long since she had a great Christmas and the children seemed to really like her story telling. Even Mrs. C. Laus seemed interested in the story.
"o.k. children.. first stop is England... Up up they flew over the garage... then over the reindeer stables... One of the children yelled "I see a reindeer below." Another yelled "Isn't that Rudolph?" They all stretched and peeked to see out the windows. As the stables got smaller and smaller the children waved to the reindeer.
"Coming up on England... I see Big Ben in the distance," Arwin yelled. The children oo'd and aahh'd as they imagined the city below. Arwin decided to make this trip a little educational game... "What building is Big Ben part of," she asked? "The Palace of Westminster," answered Susie. "Correct!" "ooo...I see a giant ferris wheel," someone exclaimed. "Anyone know what the ferris wheel is called," asked Mrs. C. Laus getting into the game? Again Susie had the right answer, "The London EYE." She sure is smart for a.. erm.. brat.. Arwin thought with a chuckle.
"O.k. Children.. time to unload the England presents." One by one the children threw imaginary presents out the window... yelling out what they were. "There goes a doll for Amy." "I have a truck for Tommy." "I've got a pair of shiny new rollerskates for Samantha."
The Santa Special visited Germany... France... Spain... and a dozen other cities. Arwin and Mrs. C. Laus made sure to ask a question about each place they went and the children heartly answered with glee, as they threw imaginary presents to imaginary children out the windows.
Everyone was having so much fun that before they knew it they were back in the city. Arwin pulled the bus up to Macy's front door and the children all scrambled for their backpacks and Mrs. C. Laus made sure they had their lists for Santa. "This may take a while" she said to Arwin. "That's o.k. I'll eat my lunch" Arwin said.
It wasn't long before Arwin was alone in the bus again. Peace and Quiet!!! Ahhhh As Arwin ate her lunch she was aware of that Fa la la la laaaa song playing in the background. This time instead of grumbling... she hummed along. She WAS having a good time. This wasn't too bad after all. The children were well mannered and very polite. Especially the little girl, Susie. She was a very smart little girl and knew almost all the answers to the questions she and Mrs. C. Lause asked.
Susie got Arwin thinking about her neice. This time of the year was the worst and she missed her. They were like two peas in a pod. Her sister never seemed to mind when Arwin asked if it would be o.k. to take her shopping. Christmas time was extra special and Arwin would take her to see Santa. Arwin would listen carefully to what she told Santa, and Arwin would make sure that SPECIAL gift was under the tree, from SANTA, on Christmas morning.
Arwin felt a tear run down her face as she was taken back to the day before Christmas, 6 years ago. The day of the accident. It had been a hecktic week. She had taken on extra shifts at the garage, so it was a last minute rush to see Santa. Arwin KNEW what her niece wanted this year for Christmas. A diamond necklace like "THE BIG GIRLS." She worked the extra shifts to pay for it.. but it was worth it. Arwin reached in her backpack... She still had it... it was still wrapped in the Christmas paper... a bow still tied neatly around it. This time of year she carried it with her as a reminder to be extra careful driving.
The snow had started to fall. They were walking back to the car in the parking lot eating snowflakes as they went. Laughing and singing Christmas songs at the top of their lungs. "Faa laa laa laa laaaa... " Arwin could still hear her neice singing, clear as day. She had stopped to get her keys when she saw headlights coming at her. They grew closer and didn't stop. Before she knew it the driver had swirved and hit her. The next thing she remembered was being in the hospital. Her sister was crying at her side. The driver had been drunk. He had hit her... swirved and killed her niece. Arwin was numb. She blamed herself. If only she had not waited til the last minute to go see Santa. If only she had not gone to THAT store. If only she had not parked in THAT parking lot. A million .. if only's... It wasn't her fault.. Deep down she knew that... her sister didn't blame her... but she couldn't stop blaming herself.
"Mz Elf Lane???? Why are you crying???" A little voice asked. It was Suzie. Arwin quickly came back to reality. "Cause I'm.. erm.. so happy" said Arwin. "Did you tell Santa what you wanted?" Suzie nodded. "I asked Santa for a necklace...Like the BIG GIRLS wear," she whispered. Arwin felt chills go down her spine. She clasped the little Christmas box with both hands. Suzie smiled and took her seat behind Arwin. The children all rushed up to her and told her their wishes to Santa. She didn't have time to ponder Susie's wish, she had to get them safely back to the orphanage.
A half hour later they were on the road, and eating the lunches that Mrs. C. Laus had packed. When the children were fed... Arwin had hoped they'd all take a nap... but they were just too wound up. Soon the bus was in a loud uproar again. So Arwin continued her story. "o.k Children... Are you ready to explore more cities???" They all yelled yeeeeeeees.. and soon Arwin was flying the bus to America.