Updated: May 5, 2019
Elf on the Shelf
by Kim Cheel
Sally, five years old, woke up earlier than normal. She swung her legs off her bed and stretched her toes until they touched the carpeted floor. She mustn't wake mummy and daddy. Two nights ago, she thought it was time to wake up, and, wanting to help mummy, she decided to prepare breakfast. Except everything was too tall for her. She had carefully brought over the kitchen chair, stood on it, and selected the cereal she wanted to eat. She had only spilled a handful on the table and floor. The milk was a lot harder. It was a full jug, and she wasn’t expecting it to be that heavy. It sloshed everywhere, and when she cried out in dismay, daddy had found her. He told her she was being naughty – even though she was just trying to help! Then he banished her to her room where she lay awake for hours waiting for the rest of the house to wake up too. Tonight however, was different. She heard something. She knew she did! The sound wasn’t familiar, but it was there, nonetheless. And she knew she couldn’t sleep until she discovered what it was. She snuck to the door, aware of where the creaky part was and avoiding it, pulling it open enough for her to squeeze her small frame through. She had to be quiet. Mummy and daddy’s room was right beside hers, and they slept with the door open. She had to make a quick detour before she explored the sound, though. She was getting too old for accidents; mummy had told her that many times.
Something felt different in the house. It wasn't too warm or too cold, but the air felt different and the hair on her arms stood up. She sat, playing with the hair on her arms, fascinated that they wouldn’t lie flat. Right! The sound! After quietly washing her hands, she turned left out of the bathroom instead of right, which would have led her back to her room. She was on a mission. And mummy and daddy couldn’t get mad if they didn’t know what she was doing. Plus, maybe they’d like to know what was making the sound. She peeked around the wall into the kitchen, but it was too dark to see anything; the lights from the clocks on the appliances not giving much of anything. She saw the number, but she didn’t recognize it. She hadn’t learned time just yet. She didn’t understand sometimes when daddy said it was late when she wasn’t even tired, and the sun was still out.
She knew she had to go in the living room, but she was scared. That's where the different was. She knew it. Her tummy felt funny, like it was dancing inside of her. She heard the water from the fish tank and was comforted by that familiar sound. Maybe the fish knew what the sound was. She often talked to the fish. She asked mummy once if fish could talk back, but mummy just made a sound. So Sally imagined that the fish did talk back, but they didn’t answer her now when she asked if they had heard the sound. Maybe they couldn’t hear her. She was talking pretty quietly so she didn’t wake mummy and daddy up. Then she heard little footprints running behind her and a high-pitched but sinister laugh. She whirled around, but saw nothing. Her body wanted to run, and her brain wanted to hide. What was in the house? Breathing heavily, she decided to go back to bed and cover herself with blankets. She planned to run as fast as she could to her room; she didn’t care if mummy and daddy woke up. Maybe then whatever was out there would go away. But before she could, she felt something tap her shoulder. Then she heard the laughter again, closer. She turned around, even though she didn't want to.
The entire house was woken up with Sally's terrified screaming. The Elf on the Shelf had returned.