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The advert had stipulated ‘Bring your own boots’. Kanti looked at the men’s feet. Most wore wellies. One had work-boots, dusty at the toes. The man at the far end wore Doc Martens.

She referred to the list on the clipboard she’d been given. She was singled out for this task, she was sure, because it was the store’s idea of positive discrimination; she could just hear Mr Armstrong saying, “Put the Paki in charge of picking Santa.” Mr Armstrong had a hat with mistletoe on it, which he kept tipping at all the women on the shop floor: “Pucker up, girls!” Fat chance of that. Nasty bullying creep.

Kanti’s name meant Shine. Her parents said, “She’ll shine in this job!” How exactly anyone could shine, stacking shelves in a department store, Kanti didn’t ask. “It’s only a Christmas job,” she said, “until college starts again.” Sometimes she wondered whether her family didn’t think college was the hobby, while this — clipboard, name-tag — was the serious work. A shuffle of booted feet retrieved her attention. “I’ll see Mr Truman first,” she decided.

Chris Truman had a beard and glasses. It should’ve been a bonus but this was south Manchester, England; he looked too much like Harold Shipman. Megan, Kanti’s co-worker, had advised, “Don’t pick anyone who looks like a kiddy-fiddler or a perve.” Kanti suspected ‘mass murdering general practitioner’ fell under the banner of ‘perve’. She thanked Mr Truman, asked him to send in the next candidate.

Monosyllabic was the only way to describe most of the interviewees. Kanti couldn’t imagine one of them striking up a conversation with an excited child about the impending holiday; most had difficulty speaking their own names.

She was making notes on her clipboard when the final candidate came into the office. He sat, Doc Martens planted apart. Kanti looked up. He was in his forties, white hair buzzcut to scalp, face like a knuckled fist. She considered his actual fists, resting on denim knees. HATE was tattooed across the left one, LOVE across the right.


“Trevor.” The name came out sounding like a bag of nails being dropped down a chimney. “Trevor Snow.”

“May I ask why you want this job, Trevor?”

“To get rid of this.” He tugged at the collar of his shirt, revealed a blue swastika. “They can take it off but it’s expensive. That’s why I need the money.”

She waited, unsure what to say.

“I used to be a bit of an arsehole.” Trevor offered up his fists. “These, too. But I thought I could wear gloves.” A sudden, hopeful smile transformed his face. “I could bring my own, from home? Only I know what it looks like. I’m not, though. Just need a chance to prove it.”

Kanti thought about it, picturing Mr Armstrong’s face. She stood and put out her hand. Trevor followed her lead. His handshake was gentle, despite the LOVE and HATE.

“Mr Snow,” she said, “I think we’ve found our Santa.”

Sarah Hilary won the Fish Historical-Crime Contest with Fall River, August 1892, and has two stories in the Fish anthology 2008. She was a runner-up in the Biscuit Short Story Contest 2008. MO: Crimes of Practice, the Crime Writers’ Association anthology, features Sarah’s story, “One Last Pick-Up”. Her work appears in Smokelong Quarterly, Literary Fever, Every Day Fiction, Ranfurly Review and Zygote in my Coffee. Sarah blogs at http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.com/.

GD Star Rating
KANTI CHOOSES SANTA • by Sarah Hilary, 3.9 out of 5 based on 141 ratings
Posted on December 25, 2008 in Stories
Tags: ,

32 Responses to “KANTI CHOOSES SANTA • by Sarah Hilary”

  1. Deven Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 4:03 am

    That is a wonderful, wonderful, story Sarah!

  2. Mark Dalligan Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Definitely a 5 Stars Christmas story!



  3. Oonah V Joslin Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 4:15 am

    Happy Christmas, Sarah and indeed EVERYONE :)

  4. K.C. Ball Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 4:35 am

    Nice turn, Sarah. Super Christmas Day story. 😉

  5. Dav.Colpman Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Ho ho ho! Lovely story, Sarah.

  6. Patricia J. Hale Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 5:36 am

    Superb Christmas piece.

  7. Oscar Windsor-Smith Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 5:38 am

    Couldn’t ask for a better Christmas story, Sarah. Thank you.
    Yours is a tale full of hope, completely against stereotypes, and beautifully, economically, written (apologies for the adverbs; it must be the Christmas spirit :) ).

    Reminds me of a TV show a year or so back in which a group of people were put through a series of tests to prove their suitability – or otherwise – for some sort of creative/caring job. The clear winner was a guy rather your Trevor Snow. Books and covers? We’re all simply human beings.

    Hope for a New Year.

    Thanks again.

    😉 scar

    BTW, 1) The only Kanti I know is a guy, but he’s in a caring job, so I guess he ‘shines’, too.
    BTW, 2) For Everyday Fiction: once again the emailed version of this story did not present me with the ‘respond’ choice. Had to log on to the website.

  8. Jen Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 5:39 am

    Aww, what a lovely little Christmas story! Christmas *is* a good time for second chances, after all.

  9. Marie Shield Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Lovely way to start Christmas day – with your story. The end was expected and that’s not at all a bad thing with a story that’s meant to carry a ‘spirit of Christmas’.

  10. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Thank you everyone, and Happy Christmas!

  11. rumjhum Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Ho Ho Ho! This is a good one! Merry Christmas!

  12. Scott M. Sandridge Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Good story. :)

  13. M.Sherlock Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Awesome story, they sound like good tattoos

  14. Avis Hickman-Gibb Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

    Happy Christmas Sarah, and a merry New Year!


  15. Justine Says:
    December 25th, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Lovely, Sarah! Dare I say it shines. Happy Christmas.

  16. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Thank you, everyone for the warm response to this story. I hope you’re all having wonderful holidays. Sarah xx

  17. John 'jumbo' Allen Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Great story, Sarah.

    I remember this one, and it get’s better with each reading!

    Hope you had a great Christmas. See you back at WW.


  18. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Thanks, John, you’re very kind. I had a lovely Christmas and hope you did too. See you soon. xx

  19. Madeline Mora-Summonte Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Good one, Sarah. Made me smile. Love the line “face like a knuckled fist”!

  20. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Thank you, Madeline!

  21. Erin Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Nice story. I like that she was willing to take a chance.

  22. Celeste Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 8:47 am

    I think everyone’s said it all. As usual, beautifully written, Sarah. Happy Christmas to you. x

  23. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Thanks, Erin, I’m about to read yours. Catching up after Christmas…

  24. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 8:49 am

    And to you, Celeste, thank you for reading.

  25. Kevin Shamel Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Lovely Christmas story, Sarah.

    I always wonder who gave Santa his job.

  26. Shezan Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Three or four separate life stories, intersected – and one connection, just there. I love how you make us get Trevor so economically. Happy Christmas!

  27. dj barber Says:
    December 26th, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    A Happy Christmas for Kanti and Trevor. Wonderful Christmas Tale, Sarah!


  28. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 27th, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Thanks, Kevin, Shezan and DJ.

  29. jennifer walmsley Says:
    December 28th, 2008 at 8:17 am

    A lovely story, Sarah. Made me feel warm.

  30. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 29th, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Thanks, Jennifer.

  31. Hasmita Says:
    December 29th, 2008 at 6:12 am

    I liked this. Sweet! :)

  32. Sarah Hilary Says:
    December 29th, 2008 at 6:13 am

    Thank you, Hasmita!


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