The Silver Lining of a Jellyfish

“I don’t remember there being a jellyfish beside Jesus’s crib,” said Grandpa.
Mum was stitching silvery stuff onto an old petticoat for my nativity play. The sewing machine stopped and Mum gave Grandpa a cross look. “Not now, Dad. Not in front of Jessica.” She patted my head.
“Sorry I spoke,” Grandpa said, and winked at me.
The sewing machine buzz started again.
I knew I wouldn’t be chosen for Mary or an angel. My hair was too frizzy, my teeth too sticky out, my limping leg too limpy. All Miss Draper’s class were in the play. She’d asked Jason what he’d like to be and he’d said a jellyfish, and bounced up and down clapping his hands. “Well, we’ll have two jellyfish, I think,” Miss Draper said, smiling her teacher smile. “You can both stand near the back of the stage and wriggle.” Jason wiggled all the time. Miss Draper said we could join in the carols, but Jason mustn’t shout.
“You have to be very graceful to be a jellyfish,” Mum said, patting my head as I tripped over the sewing machine flex. I often tripped up. One leg turned inwards and was shorter than the other.
Mum had struggled to find anything to make jellyfish tentacles out of. Luckily, Dad brought some silver material home from the factory yard where he worked. It was shiny and springy, and wobbled the way tentacles should. It did have a funny smell though.
I tried the costume on and the tentacles looked amazing as I span around.
“Careful Jessica,” Grandpa said, untangling me. “Where did you get this stuff, Melanie love? It smells like tar. Are you sure it’s okay?”
“Course,” Mum said, clearing up the sewing machine.
When I took the costume in for the dress rehearsal, everybody went, “Wow,” at my outfit. I think some of the donkeys and angels would have liked to swap.
All except Mary who flicked the tentacles and wrinkled her nose, “It smells. I wouldn’t want to wear that thing.” But her fingers stroked the tentacles as if she did like it really. Her costume was plain blue.
I never did wear the jellyfish outfit. Mary came out in a rash before the show. They said she’d had an allergy to something.
Because we were the same size and my jellyfish costume had disappeared, they let me be Mary instead. I didn’t even drop baby Jesus.

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