The Greatest Story Ever Told
"Do we have to watch this?" Jake Pendragon whined for the twenty-fifth time, "It's only a play, Kelly won't mind if we skip it."
"Jacob Arthur Pendragon," Gwen placed her hands on her hips as she turned to her son, "Just because you are now in secondary school does not mean that you can skip your little sister's nativity play. I know that you would rather be going sleighing with Henry and Tom, but Kelly is going to be Mary- this is important for her; we need to show that we care. Besides, I know from Henry's mum that he's grounded for swearing."
Jake rolled his eyes. He looked a lot like his father and acted an awful lot like him to. His hair was a caramel colour and his eyes were a soft, melting blue, distinct because of its Pendragon heritage. His skin was as fair as those in his paternal side. Confident, quick-witted, intelligent, athletic and good-looking, he had every reason to be a bully. He wasn't, however. Even though he had moments of arrogance, he was a genuinely kind pre-teen who cared for his friends and family. Unfortunately, he had been rather insufferable at the moment- he was almost twelve and kept bragging that he was practically an adult.
They trundled down the pathway to St Mary's Primary School. Even though Arthur had insisted that the kids would have to go to a private school when they got to the key stage three, Gwen had maintained that she wanted her kids in a state school when they were younger.
"Where is dad anyway?"
"Work," Gwen sighed, "Something about a meeting that was rather important and could not be avoided. He'll be along soon, I assume. Well, I hope anyway."
There was an awkward silence as Jake reached into his pocket, attempting to retrieve his iPod.
"Put that away," his mother placed her hand on his arm, staring him down (which was quite hard, considering he was almost as tall as her).
He groaned, but consented.
They shuffled together as they walked into the entrance, behind other parents and family members. Several teachers were stood around, some talking whilst others just nodded.
"Mrs. Pendragon, how lovely to see you," a voice called.
Mrs. Smith, the Year Four teacher, smiled at the pair. She was short, like Gwen, with fluffy grey hair, even though she was only in her mid-fifties. She wore a green dress which went down to her knee, with a green cardigan and Mary Jane shoes. She had taught Kelly last year, as well as Jake a while back.
"Mrs. Smith, long time no see," Gwen addressed the teacher, "How are you?"
"I am fine thank you, Mrs. Pendragon," the woman responded cheerily, "And how are you? Jake, how is life in secondary school treating you?"
Jake snapped to attention, but only after his mother elbowed him.
"It's great," Jake shrugged, "I've made some new friends and some of the teachers are okay, I guess. The athletics programme is great- I'm already in the football team and am looking to join the basketball squad, maybe even the rugby."
"That's nice," Mrs. Smith commented lightly, "Any subjects are you doing well in?"
"Er, I guess I'm doing well in maths and the sciences. I find English a bit difficult too."
"You always were good at the logical subjects, but always struggled at the essay classes. Anyhow, I must greet some of the other parents. I might see you later?"
Gwen nodded, "Sure, see you later."
"Jake, say goodbye."
"Oh right, bye," he replied off-handedly. His former teacher nodded politely and moved onto the next lot of relatives.
"Jake, that was rude," his mother admonished, "You are acting just like your father did when I first met him. We didn't get along to begin with, trust me."
"Good," Gwen nodded as they entered the assembly hall. Many seats were already taken, but she spotted three vacant seats in the third row of the left side (well, the left side to them). Hurrying before they were taken, they slid into the chairs. Gwen placed her black handbag on the seat next to her as a reserve for Arthur.
They were silent for a moment before a woman in the row in front turned to see them.
"Hello Gwen, hello Jake," she smiled.
"Oh hi Kirsty, I didn't see you there." Kirsty Allen was the mother of Jessica, Kelly's best friend, who would be portraying an angel in the play.
"Hey Kirsty," Jake greeted her, trying not to sound moody.
"Isn't Robert with you?"
Kirsty shook her head, "No, he's with her. He isn't even bothered anymore, I don't think."
'Her' meant the woman that Robert Allen (Jessica's dad) had left the family for.
"What about Arthur?" asked Kirsty.
"Caught up with work, again," Gwen sighed, "I'm sure he'll be here, he's always running late nowadays."
"That's how it starts," Kirsty told her in a conspiratorial tone, "Robert started 'working late,' proclaiming that the overtime pay would do wonders for the Christmas present fund. I believed him, which was naive. One day, I range him on his desk phone and 'Nora,' answered. When I wondered where Robert was, I heard his voice saying 'hey sexy legs, finish the call quick and we can go to the supply closet.' We had a blazing row when he got home, it was lucky that Jessica was at her grandparent's that night. We told her that we were getting a divorce in the new year. You never know, one day you'll call him and his secretary will answer, except he'll be calling her a pet name that he used to refer to you by."
Gwen rolled her eyes, but a part of her was a little anxious. She trusted Arthur, but some of the ladies he worked with were a bit...forward, especially a model named Vivian who had been recently hired as the face of the company.
"Dad's not really bedding some woman, is he?" Jake asked, trying to hide his concern.
"I am glad you said it in a less crude manner than usual," she replied, "And no, he is not. Your father is a kind and honourable man who would never do anything to hurt his family."
Kirsty raised her eyebrows, "You don't know the half of it, love hurts. The person you thought you knew most in the world could turn out to be a total stranger."
"My husband would never do that. I thank you for your input, but it is not needed," Gwen replied in a cold tone.
The jet-blacked haired woman shrugged and turned back to the front.
Gwen and Jake shared a look.
"Is it going to start soon?"
As if in answer, the lights started to dim. Mrs. Henderson, the head teacher, stood up on the stage and tapped on the microphone.
"Testing, testing," Mrs. Henderson looked around, "Ah, hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to St Mary's KS2 production of the Nativity story. May I remind you to turn off all phones and that flash photography is not permitted. If any babies or young children start crying, please discreetly take them through those doors at the end of the hall, which is where the toilets are also. The fire exit is on your right, and in the case of a fire, please leave in an orderly fashion. Other than that, please enjoy the play." She smiled slightly at the applause and exited stage left, walking down the stairs.
Suddenly, Gwen felt a presence slip into the chair next to her, knocking the bag off.
"Oh, I'm sorry that chair is rese..." Gwen faltered as her husband turned to give her a peck on the lips.
"I am so, so sorry that I'm late," Arthur apologised profusely, "Paul completely messed up the order numbers for the Suzanne Collins order and we only just got round to fixing it. I refrained from firing him because it's Christmas and he has four kids at home to provide for."
Gwen sighed, "Fine, just don't be late again."
She didn't miss the look that Kirsty sent her way.
"Hey dad, you're late."
"Hey son. Yeah, sorry about that."
Nothing else could be said, however, because the curtain went up and a lone figure stepped forward. A year six girl named Caitlin, dressed in a simple robe, began to address the crowd.
"Many years ago in Bethlehem lived a woman named Mary. She was kind, good and true and was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter. However, her life was about to change forever."
She moved to the side and a simply-made room was displayed. There was a sofa, a window along with a few tables and a candle. In the middle, down on her hands and knees, sat Kelly. She wore a soft blue dress with a dark cloth as a headset.
"Lord, please bless my mother and my father and Joseph, amen." Her hands were no longer clasped together as she looked upright. A beam of light appeared in front of her and a year four appeared in an angel costume."
"Dear Mary," he placed a hand on her head, "My name is Gabriel, I am an angel and a messenger from God."
"What would the almighty Lord want with a simple worshipper such as I?"
"Because you are a true follower," replied Andrew, the bespectacled boy, "You are now carrying the Lord's son. One day, this boy will grow up and commit miracles; he will be a saviour to the people. He will be talked about and loved for eternity."
Kelly looked up in awe as Andrew continued to speak.
The play did not drag, but it certainly not speed along. Soon enough, Kelly and Joshua (who was playing Joseph- he obviously fancied his leading lady and the feelings were not exactly unrequited) were knocking on the inn door, only to be told that there was no room.
Not long later and the three wise men appeared with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (actually a painted rock, stones from the playground and dog food, respectively). Joshua had the epiphany of Gabriel telling him that King Herod had sent men to kill the boy king.
"We must flee to Egypt!" Joshua proclaimed. He was a terribly nice boy, but an awfully bad actor.
"We must," Kelly replied in her most serious tone, "Egypt is the only place in which we will be safe. We can raise our son to be meek and mild."
Joshua nodded along.
After five more minutes, which included a presentation of the cast, and the production ended to a standing ovation. A flushed Kelly blushed and waved rapidly to her family, who waved back.
"She was brilliant," Gwen grinned to her husband as her hands readily turned sore.
"She wasn't brilliant," Arthur replied with a beam of pride, "She was perfect."
Jake clapped along- his usually shy sister who he could easily manipulate had immersed herself into the character, become confident and assure. She was as professional as any actor on the silver screen.
Mrs. Henderson appeared, also clapping.
"Thank you, thank you," she spoke into the mike, "Well done to our entire cast, what talented students we have- all stars. If you would please vacate the hall, you can come back along in ten minutes when all the seats are cleared. You will then be able to see your sons and daughters."
The lights went back to normal and everybody started shifting and stretching.
"Kelly was pretty darn good, wasn't she?" Jake was full of pride.
"She was indeed," Gwen smiled at her son, "It was so lucky that your father managed to get here quick enough to watch her perform."
She shot her husband a dirty look.
"I broke a dozen traffic laws getting here, trust me," Arthur responded, "I need to apologise for almost knocking that old lady who frequents the Co-Op down the corner."
Gwen and Jake laughed slightly as they exited, trying desperately to avoid Kirsty. Luckily for them, she was talking animatedly to the art teacher, Mr. Young, who looked as though he wanted to be anywhere but there.
"Hi Arthur, hi Gwen," another lady approached.
"Hello Rachel," they both visibly relaxed- Rachel was the mum of Caitlin, who had played the innkeeper's wife, "Nice to see you."
"You too," Rachel replied.
"Heya Jake," another voice piped up.
Jake turned bright red.
Sophie Taylor, Caitlin's older sister, was in his year at school and was in some of his classes. She was a very pretty girl with straight hair just past her shoulders. She looked casual in a Hollister polo and jeans.
"Hey Sophie," he blushed.
Arthur and Gwen shared a knowing look.
"Kelly was amazing," Rachel told them earnestly, "Seriously, she has the acting talent of Ramona Marquez, you know the one off Outnumbered? Wow, she can seriously act."
"Thanks," Gwen replied, "We are very proud of her. Caitlin was also excellent."
Rachel shrugged, "I would say that. However, she had very few lines."
Casually talking to her for the remaining time, it was not long before they were called back into the hall. Following Rachel and Sophie, they arrived in only to be attacked by a small force.
"Daddy, mummy, Jake!"
"Heya princess," Arthur lifted his little girl up.
Whilst Jake resembled him, Kelly was clearly Gwen's daughter. Even though she had fair skin, she had long, curly hair like her mother, except it was a lighter shade of brown. She had warm eyes and a little button nose, with a wide smile. Kelly was the most popular girl in her class, but not the plastic type. Like Gwen, she was warm and friendly, but could be feisty if she needed. Usually quiet and shy, it was rare that she came out of her shell.
"You were amazing," Gwen hugged her daughter, "Seriously sweetie, you were."
"Thank you mum," the nine year-old responded.
"Well done, little sis."
"You were brilliant," Arthur placed his daughter back on the ground.
"Thank you," Kelly blushed.
"Kelly, a word," Mrs. Henderson approached, "If that is okay with you, Mr and Mrs. Pendragon."
"Sorry to tear you away from your parents," the head teacher apologised, "We just need to discuss something with Mrs. King. Do not worry; I won't have her for long."
Kelly nodded and bid goodbye to her folks, following the older woman who started to praise her performance.
"If you don't mind, I think I might go say hi to Sophie," Jake whispered, his cheeks flaring.
"Of course, go see your girlfriend," Arthur waved a hand.
His son glared at him, but had the sense to say no more as he made his way over to the girl he liked.
"Our kids are growing up so fast," Gwen sighed wistfully.
"I wasn't really at work."
She looked at her husband sharply, "What do you mean you weren't at work? Please tell me you haven't been forced to resign- you are the CEO of the company, for Gods' sake!"
Arthur smirked as he reached into his pocket and retrieved two tickets.
"Top Gear tickets for Jake?" Gwen gasped, looking as though she wanted to bite them to see if they were frauds, "The waiting list to see Clarkson and co is miles long- you'd have to wait years! Plus, you have to be sixteen or over to go see them."
"I know," Arthur replied with a knowing smile, "There is an under sixteen special filming in a few weeks, so long as attendees have a parent or guardian with them over the age of eighteen."
"How did you get these?"
"I pulled a few strings, nothing much. I cannot wait to see Jake's face when he unwraps these on Christmas day- he is going to love them!"
Gwen beamed as she placed her shoulder on Arthur's shoulder, "I am so proud of you- got your son tickets for his favourite show and managed to see your daughter in a starring role."
He kissed her head.
"Love you," he told her.
"Love you back," she responded.
He smiled as a professional woman with a blonde bob approached, donned in a black skirt-suit.
"Hello, my name is Helen Winner," she shook both their hands; "You are Mr and Mrs. Pendragon, are you not?"
"We are," Arthur confirmed, with slight scepticism in his tone.
"Your daughter was excellent in her play!" Helen told them with a beam, "I am in fact as casting director for the BBC and we are always looking for people with bags of potential."
"Really?" Gwen raised an eyebrow, "Do you have a child here?"
"Goodness no," Helen shook her head rapidly, "I live in the other side of London, my boss sent me here to seek out somebody for a role in a new series."
"What series would that be?"
"It's called 'Me and the Maths Teacher,' due to air late next year," Helen explained, "It's about a woman balancing work, divorce and her two kids- a difficult teenager named Ben and an energetic ten year-old called Katie. She visits Ben's maths teacher when she discovers that he is struggling, and the two strike a chord. The seven-part series follows their misadventures, as well as her children and soon to be ex husband's reaction. We have Joanna Page in the main role as Susan Clarke, with Tom Ellis as the teacher, Mr. Rodgers. We are hunting Tyger Drew-Honey for the role of Ben, but we cannot find someone good enough to be Katie. That is where I come in. I have been going around schools all around the area to look for someone."
"Find anyone good?" asked Arthur.
"Yes, your daughter," Helen replied with a smile, "She will be no stranger to fame- she is your daughter, Mr. Pendragon and you are one of the most famous businessmen in modern Britain."
"My girl?" Gwen couldn't hide her pride."
"Yes," the blonde nodded, "We have auditions in the new year and shooting starts in late February. If Kelly is interested, and you are all for it, then you should definitely come along. Kelly has a rare gift, something many pros would kill for. She becomes the character- not Kelly, but someone completely different."
"Wow," Arthur breathed, "This is amazing."
Helen fumbled in her bag, eventually getting something out.
"Here's my card," she handed the white piece to Arthur, "Must dash, my mum is babysitting my kids and she's probably passed out now. Bye."
"Bye," they waved her off as she tottered out of the hall, going as fast as her heels would permit.
"You know what this means?!" Gwen asked excitedly.
"Kelly's gonna be famous!" Arthur beamed as he wrapped his wife in yet another hug.
"Only if she wants to be."
"Don't worry; we'll be pushy stage parents. She'll have to be."
They both laughed- Christmas was truly the time of miracles.
Hey, I hope you enjoyed it! Tom Ellis is in Merlin, as Cenred. He looks so different without long hair, but I envisioned him for the role!
Please review- it can be you X-Mas present to me ;)
Happy Holidays- I hope you get all you want, and that you and your friends and families are safe this Christmastime.
Semper Fi xxx