The last child on my list this year was a girl called Millie. She was twelve years old and as of four weeks ago I was her new foster mother. Part of our job entitled us to infiltrate the human world under many guises. We could be anybody, setting ourselves and our lives up using a bit of magic and then living in the world as most people would. Millie barely spoke to me to start with; it took three weeks, five attempts to run away, four outbursts that resulted in property damage and two days of silent treatment for her to begin to even acknowledge me as a person. Another week later and she was opening up and beginning to tell me things. Nothing important, but enough to make me believe she was starting to like me. Then came my time to ask the big question.
"So, what's your Christmas wish this year?" I asked her, not expecting much of a response. We were eating ice cream out the tub, slouched on the sofa and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.
"Don't have one," She said, predictably.
"Come on." I nudged her playfully. "Everyone has a Christmas wish...that one thing you hope with all your heart you could get on Christmas morning..."
"I stopped making wishes ages ago, when they never came true and I knew it was time to grow up." She huffed as she dug her spoon into the ice cream.
"But, if you still wished, what would your wish be?" I tried again.
"Why the hell d'you wanna know so bad?" She snarled defensively.
"Because it's Christmas soon..." I said.
"Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realise you wanted a list...d'you want me to make it out to Santa?" She cried before putting on her best sassy voice. "Dear Santa, I've been so good this year, I only got sent back from three families, two less than last year! This year for Christmas, I'd really like a pony because all the people at school who think they know me might stop thinking they know me and actually get to know me if I had a pony. And some really awesome shoes might be nice or some cute earrings...or maybe, maybe it would be nice if someone could give a damn for once!"
"I want to stay with you, that's my Christmas wish..." She gave a small sob and I felt my heart clench. "That's why I'm so mad, because I know eventually I'll have to leave again and this is the first place I've been where I feel happier than when I’m back at the home I came from..." She sniffed. "It scares me..."
And that was why I was resigning.
"You can't just leave and never come back!" Nick looked at me in shock.
"But I have to," I cried desperately. I could feel the tears in my eyes as I sat across from him. "Please...just look back at some of the last Christmas wishes she made..." I thrust her file across the desk.
He picked it up and I could see I had him as his own eyes began to fill with tears the more he read. Millie had stopped making wishes three years ago. The last wish she made was for a friend, just one person she didn't have to say goodbye to.
"It's happened before you know," Nick said softly. "Not for a very long time, but it has happened before."
"Elves leaving the North Pole and living among humans?" I asked, not surprised if my own experience was anything to go by.
"Yes," He sighed in defeat. "I’ll accept your letter of resignation, but you’ll have to forfeit your elfin life span...you’ll age as any normal human ages."
"Done." I nodded enthusiastically.
"You really care about this kid, don't you?" Nick grinned at me, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he looked over his huge white beard.
"More than anything I've cared about in a while," I smiled.
"You know, you've actually made two wishes come true...my wish every year is for the impossible ones to be fulfilled. Fulfilling Millie's wish means fulfilling mine too." He chuckled heartily. "My favourite Christmas wishes to come true are those that I didn't think I could make come true at all."