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proof. Who would be easier to break, Petri or Merja?

Women were often tougher, especially when it concerned

their children. What if I were to approach Merja as my real

self, Hilja?

I waited to see if she’d come in for the night shift, but she

did not appear. A pretty young coworker said she would be

back at work the next day. “So Santa’s fallen for Merja?” she

teased, and I clutched my hands to my heart dramatically.

This wasn’t the first time I’d acted at acting.

In the final weeks before Christmas the department store

stayed open till nine. It was quarter past nine when I took

the elevator toward the ground floor. The customers had

already left and the elevator was empty. I was terribly

tempted to take off my hot wig right there. Luckily I didn’t,

because at the P2 level the elevator stopped. Petri stepped


“So, Santa Claus,” he said, as the elevator jerked and came

to a stop, “looks like we’re stuck between floors. My, my,

after closing it can take quite awhile before they get the

elevator running again. I hope you aren’t claustrophobic.

Now take off the stupid disguise and we’ll have a face-to-

face talk, man to man. Or shall I take it off myself?” Petri

whipped a knife from his pocket, one from the souvenir

department. I backed to the corner of the elevator, trying to

feign fear.