Mother was moving around the kitchen table, kneading the dough with great skill, then rolling it seemed to last forever. It was warm inside. The earthen floor, a big stove with logs piled at its side and our cat Pero, dreaming lazily close to it. Father named him after a friend of his, a miller with big moustaches. As usual, I was under the table, teasing the cat with a piece of thread, wishing he would wake up and play with me. It was the middle of the afternoon and Father came in from work.
‘Hurry up, Mata! Close the door,’ Mother shouted. It had to be warm. Otherwise it wouldn’t rise.
Father closed the door quickly, smiled at her from under the brim of his hat, his eyes gleaming as he said, ‘It wouldn’t rise, huh?’
‘You, little devil, aren’t you ever gonna’ get serious? Your boy’s here, under the table, playing, and you talk gibberish.’
‘Calm down,’ he said, ‘I meant no harm.’
‘Me, neither,’ she said, pouring some brandy into his favourite glass. He used to have one or two every day after work, for better blood circulation, he would say.
‘Hey, Stipa, my pumpkin, what’s up?’ he addressed me. I was already climbing up his back. It was my favourite spot. I enjoyed sitting on his broad shoulders and ruffling his thick hair.
‘You know, Stipa, I noticed children washing their gift stockings in the other village, getting ready for Saint Nicholas’ visit. You have been good this year, haven’t you? You might get some presents, too.’
‘Hm, maybe not,’ Mother added. ‘Saint Nicholas knows everything, he knows who did what and gives presents accordingly. If you have obeyed your parents, showed respect to grown-ups, helped around the house … if you havent defied your sister, have been a good pupil at school, then you may expect some presents.’
‘But I don’t go to school yet. And I have been a good boy, right, Dad?’
‘You have, my boy. Have you prepared your stocking?’
‘He has. He put it up at noon,’ said Mother and began to close the shutters.
‘No, Mother,’ I cried. ‘Let them stay open so that Saint Nicholas can see there are children here and I, I love getting presents.’
In the semi-dark room shadows started a magical dance, swaying like birch branches in the breeze. Mother finished dinner and set the table. At that very moment the clang of chains was heard below the window of our warm home.
‘Krampus,’ said Father.
Bio: Maxima is a pseudonym used to authenticate Maxima’s work. Maxima is a writer, poet, literary critic, and author of several books. He also writes poetry as a basic form of literary creation, short stories, aphorisms and literary criticism. He has edited and reviewed several books. His work is published in many magazines and newspapers, as well as joint collections of poetry.