Hail beat against the windows as Chloe knelt on the living room carpet in front of the fire. They'd moved so late in the year that the house was still filled with boxes three days before Christmas. She unwrapped a figurine from its cocoon of tissue and stared at it, racking her brain to recall the ugly leering imp with its hammer and pillowcase. “Dad?”
“What?” His voice was fain from the downstairs kitchen.
“When did we get the ugly little imp tree decoration?”
“I don't know what you mean, darling.”
“This.” She raised the figure to the room camera. “Ow.”
She sucked her thumb. “I pricked myself on a nail.”
“Careful, now.” The soft voice was not her fathers, but a tall, dark man in an expensive suit. “You don't want to hurt yourself.”
“Who the feck are you?”
“I'm a...” He paused, scratching at his five o'clock shadow. “A sort of djinn. Genie, I mean. What's your first wish?”
“That's it could be Christmas every day.”
“Done.” He clicked his fingers and smiled.
She unwrapped a figurine from its cocoon of tissue
“Tetanus, I'm afraid.” The nurse marked Chloe's records. “Persistent vegetative state.”