“I felt we had fun with Tinley Tinsel on Saturday in A Tangle with Tinsel. So, I thought we’d join her for another tale today.”
I wrote this Story in answer to the following prompts:
Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #94 – The image above
FOWC with Fandango — Putrid
Your Daily Word Prompt — Crucial
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Flush
Word of the Day Challenge — Explain
Tinsel in the Laundry
“Pooey, Deering! What’s that putrid smell!” complained Tinley Tinsel walking past the reindeer stables carrying several boxes of tree lights, baubles and other decorations. Tinley, just like everyone around here, was a Laplandyii or Christmas Elf.
“Sorry, my dear. We had a water leak during the summer. I’m afraid all the cushioning in Santa’s sleigh has gone quite mouldy. I’ve got my team doing the reupholstery but we don’t have time to make new cushions. Santa will be so unhappy sitting on these stinky things while delivering all his presents. It’s crucial I get them clean somehow!”
Tinley put her boxes down by the arched doorway and entered the stables. “Hello Cupid, how’s that tooth? I hope it’s better now,” she smiled as the beautiful grey reindeer nuzzled her from the stall closest to the door.
Cupid gave a happy nod which tinkled the bells in her antlers.
“Cupid’s fine. It’s me who’ll be banished from Lapland!” Deering appeared from Prancer’s stall wringing his snow-white beard stressfully as he passed the great red-and-gold sleigh. It looked forlorn with no interior and mould marring the paintwork. “I tried to explain the situation to the laundry elves. They wouldn’t even let me bring the nauseatingly putrid cushions anywhere near them. I just don’t know what else to do!”
“Don’t worry, Deering. There’s always a solution,” Tinley gave him a calming smile. Pinching her nose, she peered into the bags containing the cushions. “Ugh, these are yucky! There’s only one thing we can do.”
Deering gave her a disbelieving look while cleaning his little round glasses. “I don’t believe there’s anything we can do!”
“If you take those boxes of mine to the Great Hall and give them to Baubellina. I’ll ensure these cushions are perfect for Santa before Christmas Eve.”
“Sure, I’ll take the boxes now. Promise me, you’ll make those cushions as good as new.”
Tinley pulled her blonde locks into cute bunches and secured them with red tinsel bows to match her velvet dress. She pulled Deering into one of her special hugs and kissed him on the forehead. “I promise it’ll be our okay by tomorrow,” she told him having picked up the cushions.
Deering had a flush to his round cheeks. Tinley always did have a way of making people feel warm and happy when she hugged them.
Tinley winked, danced her shiny shoes and vanished in a festive shower of sparkles.
The Christmas Elf reappeared in a very normal alleyway in Norfolk, England, having stopped at home on the way. Ignoring the overflowing roll-top bins, she walked into the High Street. As far as she could see in both directions, strings of lights crisscrossed the road from the lamp posts. Every window was full of Christmas cheer and carollers could be heard singing from the department store. The pavement was lined with shoppers looking to get that last-minute present too.
Tinley began humming Christmas carols as she walked along. Her smelly cargo drew a few unkind looks and gestures. She simply smiled in her pretty way and carried on.
‘Larry’s Laundromat, your 24hr solution for cleaning your costume!’
“This is the place.” Tinley pushed through the glass door and gazed around at the banks of blue-and-silver washing machines and tumble dryers. ‘Just as well I spend the summer in the human world. I’d never get these cushions clean, otherwise.’
“Merry Christmas, and welcome to Larry’s. Give me a shout if you need anything,” called the attendant mopping the floor.
“Merry Christmas! Thank you, I will.” Tinley selected a washing machine. With her nose pinched shut, she forced the mouldy cushions inside. She tossed in a couple of detergent pods and closed the door. It was then her face fell.
“Oh, jingle bells! The machine needs money to work,” she sighed and looked about her. The attendant was busy cleaning. A couple of other people sat waiting and reading. Only a trio of children running around caused concern. With no choice, she snapped her fingers and magically set the machine going.
There was nothing to do but wait now. Tinley looked about her for some inspiration. She noticed the Christmas tree in the window had a few bulbs out and wasn’t decorated very nicely. “Let’s sort you out, tree,” she said as she skipped to the window.
“Can’t catch, me!” shrieked the little girl, catching Tinley’s dress and running circles with her younger brothers giving chase.
“Hey! Now, Take it easy, my friends. We don’t want to do anything to get on Santa’s naughty list this close to Christmas, do we?” Tinley said, grinning, she did love being surrounded by the mirthful energy of children.
“Won’t matter. Mummy can’t afford to buy us presents anyway,” replied the girl losing her smile.
“Leave her alone!” yelled their mother putting coins in a machine at the end of the line.
“No, it’s okay. I don’t mind.” Tinley replied with a smile. Facing the children, she wanted some answers. “I’m Tinley. Can you tell me why you don’t get presents?” Tinley took red and green candy canes from her dress pockets and handed them around.
“Thanks. Dad abandoned us, forcing mum to quit her job to take care of us.” The girl directed her brothers to sit down by the window. “Now, we barely get by each week. There were no presents last year and we’ll get none this year.”
Tinley wiped her eyes. It was the saddest tale she’d heard in a while. Working her way along the string of lights in the Christmas tree, she twisted all the bulbs making them glow like new. Then she began rearranging the baubles and tinsel. “Rebecca, Alex and Nigel, if you believe in Santa – I mean really believe in him. This year might be a little bit different.”
“You’ll have to do the tree every year. You’re doing beautifully!” Called the laundry assistant as he walked passed.
“My pleasure,” Tinley said flush with pride.
“How did you know our names? How can things be different?” Rebecca asked.
“Just believe and you’ll — Huh, did you see that?” Tinley had faced the children in time to see a troublemaker at work. She hurried into the next line of washing machines. “Madam, don’t start your wash!”
“And why on earth not?” said the grey-haired lady looking perturbed.
“That naughty boy in the jeans, just put a red stocking in your whites. If you set that going your clothes will be bright pink!” Tinley explained.
“Haha! You’ll have pink knickers!” Jested Nigel chewing on his candy cane.
Tinley waved a finger his way although she was grinning, “Remember what I said about that naughty list.”
The lady had begun working through her washing. She pulled out the offending stocking. “Seems I owe you my thanks,” she remarked with a glare at the troublemaker. He was now riding a laundry trolley by standing on the basket and holding the clothes rail like some kind of Go-kart.
“Don’t mention it,” Tinley eyed the trouble maker with a frown.
“He must be on the naughty list!” Rebecca said watching him whizzing up and down in front of the tumble dryers.
Tinley narrowed her eyes as he nearly flattened another customer. “He’ll be on the naughty list until he’s fifty!” A mischievous energy came over her. “Let’s teach this Grinch a lesson!”
“Ooh! Lessons are horrible. He won’t like that!” Alex said.
“Maybe. Remember lessons are important so we can grow up intelligent, get good jobs and live happy lives. You must make sure you do all your lessons as well as you possibly can, okay.
“Good, boy. This lesson, however, will be easy for him to learn.” Tinley took a bauble from her pocket and rolled into the tumble dryer aisle.
The dryers were stacked two tall. The buttons for the upper ones were so high it was amazing anybody could use them. Tinley’s bauble rolled under the troublemaker’s trolley and exploded in a cloud of red glitter. The trolley spun across the aisle and slammed into the machines. Everybody heard the troublemaker scream as he shot right into a tumble dryer, leaving just his legs hanging out.”
“Yeah! Good shot Tinley!” squealed Rebecca laughing as she watched the troublemaker’s kicking about and trying to free himself. The attendant chose that moment to extract and escort him from the laundromat.
“Thank you.” Tinley rubbed her hands with a delighted flush to her cheeks. With her lesson taught, she transferred the cushions to a tumble dryer. For the next half an hour she chatted to and had fun with the kids.
With the cushions clean and ready for the sleigh again, she put them in fresh bags “That’s it, I’m all done.”
“Aww, no please don’t go. We had so much fun with you and Mummy’s nowhere near ready yet.” Rebecca said becoming sad. “You didn’t even tell us how you knew our names yet.”
“I have to go. These cushions are for something very special.” Tinley smiled at the children “Would you like to know a little secret?”
“Yeah!” Chorused the children bouncing about with excitement.
Tinley shushed and brought them close. “Okay, promise not to tell?”
The children all nodded.
“Great. My father’s called Nautilus Tinsel. It’s his job to ensure the naughty and nice list is checked twice and correct for Santa. I saw your names on those lists, that’s how I know them.”
“Come on! That can’t be true.” Rebecca remarked wrinkling her nose. “If it is you must be an Elf live in Lapland.”
Tinley nodded as she produced handfuls of chocolate coins and handed them around. “I am and I do. It’s my job to make sure all Santa’s Christmas trees are decorated beautifully.”
“That’s amazing!” said the boys almost together.
“Now, you know my secret; you must never reveal it. And remember, make sure you believe in Christmas and this one will be your best ever.” Tinley winked, picked up her cushion’s and left the laundromat with a skip in her step.
Deering was pacing around the sleigh when Tinley reappeared in the reindeer stables. “Oh, dear! Oh, dear! We’ll never be ready for Santa at this rate!” he stressed.
A certain red-nosed reindeer blew a raspberry at him as he passed his stall.
Tinley giggle at and tickled his chin. “Behave, Rudolph. Or I’ll paint your nose black as punishment.”
Rudolph snorted and sighed. Nobody ever let him have any fun!
“Tinley! You’re back.” Deering ran over to her. “How did you get on with your crucial task?”
The reupholstery had been completed on the sleigh. The gold and red paint were glittering and the red velvet looked plush and perfect. Tinley climbed aboard and set the cushions in place. “My mission was a success. The putrid stench is gone!”
“They look wonderful! You saved Christmas, Tinley!” Deering took off his white-bobbled hat and tossed into the air with a joyful “Yippee!”
Almost two thousand miles away and a day later; Christmas day arrived in Norfolk. Rebecca, Nigel and Alex wake up to calls from their mother. They trudged down to the lounge wearing dressing gowns.
“Look, kids! Santa came this year!” She announced with the biggest smile despite knowing she’d been unable to buy presents.
Rebecca saw her present were from Santa Claus and Tinley Tinsel. She knew then, Tinley had to be a Christmas elf – there was no other way to explain it.
Have a great day!