"Goodnight Tabitha." Mum kissed me on the cheek, before rising from her bent stance to turn off my light. She stopped at the door, turning back.
"Remember, the sooner you go to sleep, the faster Santa will come." She blew a kiss at me, and the door closed.
I smiled. At twelve, I was still a firm believer in Santa Claus. Looking back, it was such a childish thought, but I was childish. Although I was almost a teenager, my hands were firmly grasped to childhood as long as possible. I pulled the sheets over my head, but sleep would not come. So I lay awake, hoping Santa wouldn't notice.
Downstairs, a few hours later, the Christmas candles still flickered, bent by the subtle wind. A huge lorry passed outside, causing the table to wobble a little. Only a little. But it was enough to tilt over one Christmas candle.
It dropped to the floor, the lone flame licking the carpet. A fine flame spread, then burst into chaos.
Minutes later, a faint smell of burning met my nostrils. I sat, bolt upright. Flinging open my door, I turned to see flames licking the walls. I gasped, wanting to scream. I bolted down the corridor to my parents room.
"Mummy, Daddy, wake up, the house is on fire!"
The word fire set off a chain reaction.
"Tabitha, get Scott and Madeline from their beds. Meet us outside, go quickly!"
I saw Mum and Dad run to the door, and I burst into the nursery. Scott began to wail as I pulled back the blankets. Madeline sat slowly rubbing her eyes. I quickly scooped both children from their sleepy states, and rushed to the bottom of the stairs. Siblings clinging to me, I ran out through the front door. I heard the beams start to moan.
In the window, I could just about make out Mum and Dad desperately trying to salvage the presents.
"Leave them!" I called.
Realising they were almost out of time, Mum and Dad hurried to the living room door. Suddenly a huge beam gave way, and a huge cloud of ash arose.
"MUM! DAD!" I kept on calling.
Madeline and Scott were both crying. Neighbours were emerging from their houses.
Mum and Dad didn't come. We all waited, praying they would emerge.
Shortly after, the fire brigade arrived to put out the wild blaze.
But they were too late.
All of us were now in tears, Madeline wiping her wet nose on my pyjama bottoms. My own tears rolled down my cheeks. Scott was wailing in my arms, and I rocked him, yearning to console him.
Yet how could I, when I couldn't console myself?