The Christmas Pterodactyl
By Carol Price
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Lucy had been practising making paper birds by carefully folding sheets of paper. At first, they were very crooked and looked nothing like a bird and she got cross with herself and stamped her foot. But Lucy was not a child to give up. Once she had decided on something she became very determined. Every day, her attempts got better and soon her mother could see the beak, tail, and wings of the bird. Lucy got out her paint box and painted the best ones in bright blues and greens and hung them on pieces of thread from the Christmas tree. She thought they were the nicest Christmas decorations she had ever made, and her mother smiled and said she thought so too.
On Christmas morning, Lucy found her red felt stocking bulging with little toys, chocolates, and pretty ribbons and hair clips. She was so happy with all these small gifts that she almost forgot about the large oblong package under the Christmas tree. Everyone had finished eating a huge lunch before it was time to open the last presents. Lucy’s grandmother and her aunt and uncle and two little cousins were there too, and the room was filled with excited chatter from the children. All the adults looked very silly with red and green paper hats perched on their heads.
Her mother passed the package to her. It was wrapped in gold shiny paper with a pattern of tiny holly wreaths. Lucy was careful to unwrap it without tearing the paper. Inside, she found a box and inside the box was a string puppet of a witch riding a broomstick. By tipping the wooden frame that the strings were attached to, Lucy could make her fly through the air, nodding her head and waving her arms. It was the best present ever!
When it was time for bed, Lucy picked up all her new things and took them to her bedroom, carefully placing them at the end of her bed so that she could see them if she woke up in the middle of the night. She also smoothed out the gold paper and put it on the dressing table in her room, for she had a plan for the beautiful paper.
When she woke the next morning, the house was very quiet. She peeped into her parents’ room and saw that they were still sound asleep, so she tiptoed back to her room, and closed the door ever so quietly behind her. She took the gold paper in her hand, sat on the floor and began to fold it into the bird shape that she now knew very well. A giant bird-like creature began to form in front of her eyes. It was not neat and tidy like the other birds she had made but had large floppy wings and a pointy tail. Lucy thought that she had seen something like this in the Natural History Museum which had a long name that she could not spell. She would ask her mother later, she thought.
She found some pretty red ribbon and attached it to the top of the paper bird’s head. Later, she thought, she would ask her father to tie it to her lampshade so she could watch it when she was lying in her little bed. She felt very proud of herself for making such a lovely paper bird. She placed the bird on the bookshelf to keep it safe while she looked for her clean underwear and socks in the chest of drawers. Now she was seven years old, she could dress herself without any help except for doing up the buckles on her shoes, but that didn’t matter as she could wear her slippers in the house.
The day went by quickly. There was left over turkey to eat and elderly relatives to visit. Lucy almost forgot about her paper bird until she saw it on the top of the bookcase as she was going to bed.
‘Goodnight, Lucy,’ her mother said as she tucked the little girl in and kissed her.
‘Goodnight,’ said a sleepy voice.
Her mother left a night light glowing by the bedside table and closed the door quietly. Lucy shut her eyes and began to think about everything that had happened over Christmas. There was a sort of rushing noise in the room. She opened her eyes and there above her head, the Christmas pterodactyl was flying, flapping its paper wings slowly and swooping up towards the ceiling.
‘Hello, pterodactyl’, Lucy smiled, pleased that she had finally remembered the name. ‘I’m glad you’ve come to keep me company. I promise I won’t tell anyone about you and you can be my special friend forever.’
She closed her eyes and fell asleep, dreaming of soaring over hills and lakes and snow covered mountains, riding on the back of her new friend, the Christmas pterodactyl.