It took days for Mary Jane to finish us, our creation slotted between customers and baking sessions. She’d continue her meticulous work with the delicious aroma of sausage rolls, and the sweet smell of sponge cakes, scones or jam tarts wafting through the room. But however careful she was, the flour still found its way onto us—easily removed, but enough to make our noses twitch (when Mary Jane wasn’t looking, of course).
There were ten of us altogether, and not all made from grey velvet. She displayed us with pride on the counter of her tea-shop, taking extra care to arrange us to our best advantage. A tiny crowd of four grey, three white and three pink mice; and anyone who ever thought that Mary Jane was a plain sort of girl, hadn’t seen the prettiness we did that day. When she smiled at us with satisfaction, her violet eyes shone with pleasure, and though her light-brown hair had long-since escaped from the swirl atop her head, even that managed to frame her face—like a masterpiece—in fine tendrils.
I think I could have stayed with Mary Jane forever… but that wasn’t to be. It didn’t take long for her talent to be recognised. Her neat stitching and eye for detail meant that we mice were as quietly pretty as she herself. Two of us were sold to Miss Emily Potter and Miss Kemble, who were regulars at the tea-room, and quick to see that fifty pence was no money at all… an unworthy sum for Mary Jane’s talented labour, in my humble, mousy opinion. Three more of us went into the care of a passing motorist, who stopped for refreshments and took a shine to us.
Looking out over the tea-room, I wondered who I’d go to. Decorations in the shop window told their own story. Christmas couldn’t be far away, and I began to dream of being wrapped in bright tissue paper and silky ribbon…
It was the next day that the giant arrived. Well, he looked like a giant to me. He stood in the doorway of the tea-shop, tall and broad, and wrapped in cashmere. His blue eyes were so cool, they could have been made of ice; but when he smiled at Mary Jane, the thaw came quickly.
She called him Sir Thomas, her cheeks growing pink, and invited him for lunch. He wasn’t a bad sort really, and that rumbly, deep voice sounded kind. I hoped he was.
It was when he passed the counter that he spotted us. Only five now… His mouth curved and eyes crinkled at the sides.
“And what, exactly, are these bits of nonsense?” he asked, reaching out one large hand to touch me with a surprisingly gentle finger.
If there’d been a breath in my little mousy body, I know it would have stopped right then. Would he buy me? And if he did… who would I be for?
I seem to have been blind for a very long time; or if not blind, then certainly kept in the dark. Mary Jane had packaged me up for the giant with a happy smile, and I missed her cheerful face and pretty eyes. I’d slept a lot since then. But now I could swear I heard music, the crackle of a fire and… laughter? The darkness was growing lighter, and I soon realised that the layers of tissue that Mary Jane had wrapped me in were slowly being peeled back. If I could, I would have blinked, as warm, golden light spilled into my world.
There’s a face I don’t recognise above me, peering down with eyes shining with surprise and pleasure. It’s an old face, filled with laughter lines… female, and almost plain, but soft and friendly looking too. Her salt and pepper hair is stylishly dressed, and her eyes are… as blue as the giant’s.
Then he too comes into view, smiling down at the lady who holds me so gently. “Happy Christmas, Mother,” he says, bending to place a kiss against her cheek.
“Thank you, Thomas, and how can it not be?” she replies with a smile. When the giant nods in agreement, and moves away, she watches him for a moment, and then raises me up to place a kiss against my cheek. “I have high hopes for the festive season… not to mention a certain mouse-making young lady with violet eyes.”
Her whisper is so soft, it’s barely-there, but the words reassure me. I have a feeling I’ll be seeing my Dearest Mary Jane again, very soon…