A Liking for Lichen by Rosie Oliver

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Christmas Eve morning and it is good to be alive. Rudolph, the twenty-seventh reindeer of that name and the twenty-sixth generation since the great legend, prances out of the barn to his personal manger for his annual treat.

His favourite lichen, the one that makes his nose glow red, is missing. He will not be lighting the way for the sleigh tonight. Is he being retired?

“Ho, ho, ho!” Santa says from behind.

“Is this a joke?” Rudolph grunts and turns to face him nose-to-nose, his breath freezing on Santa’s beard. “If so, it’s not funny. Where’s my lichen?”

“There’s a problem.”

“You bet there is.” He nudges Santa to force him to bend a little backwards.

“There was none to harvest this year.”

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