Johnny looked out the window and whooped. It was snowing!
He dug under the stairs and pulled out an old pair of wellies, shoved his feet inside, zipped up his jacket and grabbed a pair of gloves.
‘I’m just going out, Mum,’ he called, the front door already open.
‘Wait! Stir before you go,’ she called.
‘It’s now or never, Johnny-boy,’ she laughed, standing in the doorway.
He looked out at the driveway. No footsteps yet in the perfect blanket of snow. But not for long. He could see friends trundling up the road, firing snowballs.
He closed the door and followed her into the aromatic kitchen.
‘Quick Mum, where’s the spoon?’
‘Gloves off first,’ she said, as she pointed to the bowl.
He pushed the spoon into the dark mixture of currants, cherries, brown sugar and Christmas spices.
‘It has to be clock-wise, Johnny,’ smiled his mum. She had flour on her right cheek and her blue eyes were shining. ‘Three times, then make your wish.’
Johnny nodded, his face solemn, as he performed the yearly Christmas pudding ritual.
‘Okay. Done,’ he said. ‘Did you make a wish?’
‘Of course, you don’t think wishes are just for kids, do you? Now go, enjoy the snow,’ she shook the wooden spoon at him, her eyes brimming with unshed tears, ‘but make sure you’re back in time for dinner.’
Shoving a handful of cherries into his mouth, he hugged her tight, ‘Dad always loved this part of Christmas.’
‘He did,’ she ruffled his hair, ‘so go, have fun. Make him proud.’ She turned back to the bowl.
Johnny licked his sticky fingers before pulling his gloves on and heading outside.
Thirty minutes later, the snow had turned into a blizzard. His hands were freezing, his ears were ringing and he was cold.
A tall man dressed in black, a striped scarf covering half his face, walked slowly towards him. He cradled a brown box in his arms.
A flurry of snowballs pelted him, causing him to lose his balance. His eyes held a look of panic as he struggled to hold onto the box. Instinctively, Johnny knew that the contents were important. He rushed forward.
‘I’ve got it!’ he shouted. The man released his grip as he slipped to the ground.
‘Thanks, son,’ he muttered, as his scarf fell down to show a pale face scrunched in pain.
The box was light, but when something moved inside, Johnny nearly dropped it with fright. He noticed small air holes at the top. ‘It’s not a snake, is it?’ he whispered.
The man shook his head.
‘Johnny, didn’t you hear me call?’
Johnny turned to see his mum standing at the gate.
The man stood.
‘He’s a good lad. Just came to my aid.’ He took the box and opened it, gently lifting out a tiny black kitten with four white socks. ‘At the animal shelter, they named her Lucky,’ he smiled, holding her towards Johnny’s outstretched arms. ‘I guess she is.’