When I connected the dots, my spine got chills.
I instantly regretted trying to solve the mystery. Year after year it was the same plan; Jason oversaw the main entrance, the twins had the bedrooms, Nick was the oldest and guarded the living room, while I restlessly stared at the big fireplace. It was an important operation, crucial in fact.
We were all anxious, but we hadn’t left any room for mistakes; this time we would catch him.
Jason was the leader; he became more and more committed after every mission failure. I like to think I was next in charge, even though I was the youngest. I had proved that I was to be trusted, that I would do anything for us to succeed. Nick and the twins were curious, but Jason and I were demanding answers.
With only a few minutes left on the clock, we were preparing. We didn’t know exactly what we were about to face, and we had to be ready and more focused than ever. What if he was too fast for us to even catch a glimpse of him? How were we supposed to catch him then?
One of the elders suddenly laughed at my fidgeting hands. I scowled but didn’t look away from my target. They wouldn’t distract us again.
A couple minutes and then it was go-time. I could practically feel the tension emitting from my partners, and I had begun to sweat.
I counted the seconds.
My heart was hammering against my chest; it was time.
The elders started shouting. To get our attention, no doubt. But we wouldn’t fall for their cheap tricks yet again. The noise became louder and louder, the elders were now trying to seize us, and Jason was yelling at them to let us go; we didn’t want their so called “hugs”.
Suddenly, there was darkness. I yelped as I lost sight of my target and I started panicking. It was completely dark.
We stayed like that for a minute at most. I wasn’t moving, and when I regained sight after the lights turned back on, the deed had been done, but I wasn’t about to quit.
“Maybe he’s still here,” I thought, “maybe he’s hiding in plain sight.”
I frantically looked around, scanning each familiar face. One was missing.
In a shaky voice, I turned to the elder next to me and said “Mum, where’s dad?”
“He just went to the bathroom sweetie. Don’t you want to open your presents?”
I froze as suspicion settled in the back of my mind and in the pit of my stomach.
And then, something mind blowing happened. He entered.
Me and the squad all gasped, but I instantly saw. I connected the dots; the mystery was solved. But at what cost?
My own father had been the culprit all along.
My own father was Santa Claus.