On Christmas morning, the boy and his brother could stand it no longer.
“You awake?” says the boy.
“Yeah,” says Stephen.
“Think we got hoppity horses for Christmas?”
“Wanna go check?
“Think we’ll get in trouble?”
“Not if we don’t get caught.”
“What time is it?”
“Mom will KILL us.”
“No, we’ll be super quiet. They won’t hear us.”
They crawl out of bed, and the boy leads the way in tiptoeing to their door, opening it silently, and creeping down the hall. A wood sliding door separates the hall from the front room. The boy presses his index finger to his lips, then gently eases the door on its tracks until it’s fully open.
Across the room, in front of the Christmas tree, are the two hoppity horses—one red, one yellow. They look enormous with huge dark eyes. The boy catches his breath, his heart thudding with excitement. Stephen is next to him breathing rapidly.
The boy wishes it were two hours later. He can’t wait to bounce all over the yard. Suddenly, Stephen bolts across the room—not to the hopppity horses but toward his parents’ bedroom!
Before the boy can say anything, Stephen bellows, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”
The boy hears shuffling then his mother’s voice. “What in hell do YOU want at 4 in the morning?”
The boy can hear his brother’s voice loud and clear. “My hoppity horse scared me!”
“Serves you right for sneaking out to look at it before 6 am. Now get your little butt back in bed before I kick it for you!”
The boy doesn’t wait for Stephen—he turns back to his room, hustles, and hops into bed. Stephen lands in his bed moments later.
“I can’t believe you did that.”
“Shut up, Gordon.”