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Random Acts of Kindness: A Christmas Street Short Story by Ivy Pembroke

Ivy Pembroke Short Story

To celebrate the upcoming publication of her third book in the Christmas Street series, A House in Provence, Ivy Pembroke has written an exclusive lockdown themed story starring all of our favourite Christmas Street residents.


Random Acts of Kindness: A Christmas Street Short Story


Pen was the first person to drop groceries off on the doorstep. When the doorbell rang, Bill was in the kitchen making himself a cuppa. Grumbling, he made his way to the door to see who was bothering him now, you could never get a single minute’s peace on this street any more.

When he got to the door, there was no one there, but a bag of groceries was sitting on the step.

‘What the . . . ?’ Bill leaned down to peer into the bag: milk, bread, some fruit and veg.

‘Wash your hands after you put it away!’ called a voice cheerfully, and Bill looked up to see Pen standing at the end of the path, out in the street.

‘What?’ Bill called back, bewildered.

‘I brought you groceries so you won’t have to go out to the shops. You know, because of the virus! But make sure you wash your hands after you handle everything!’

‘I am capable of going out to the shops myself,’ Bill muttered. But he knew Pen meant well, so he called out a thank-you, received a cheery wave in response, took the groceries inside, put them away, and then washed his hands.


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Sam was used to being the only person in his house working from home, so it was a shock when suddenly his workday was invaded by two other people. Libby colonised the dining room, spreading papers out over the table and conducting remote meetings with her students. Upstairs, Teddy struggled through his own meetings, invading Sam’s office to ask homework questions. Suddenly, Sam found himself living in a primary school.

But his family was safe and healthy so he couldn’t really complain, even if his days were full of much more chaos than they used to be. Just the way of the world at the mo.

‘What should we do about Jack?’ Sam asked, watching Teddy give him belly rubs as he and Libby readied dinner.

‘Do about him?’ Libby echoed.

‘Should he keep roaming the street, going between the houses? With all this going on?’

‘Oh.’ Libby paused, looking thoughtful. ‘That’s a good point.’

‘I’d call a street meeting, but, you know, social distancing,’ Sam joked.

‘But we should really talk about this,’ Libby said. ‘Any one of us could have the virus, and maybe we could put it on his fur, and then he might go to Bill’s house, and if Bill pets him, could Bill pick up the virus from there?’ Libby bit her lip. ‘It’s just so hard to know what we should and shouldn’t be doing.’

‘I think we should be erring on the side of caution,’ said Sam. ‘Bill’s the highest risk person on the street. I’ll bring him some groceries and tell him what we’ve decided about Jack.’


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Sam was the second person to drop groceries off on his doorstep. Bill was in the front room this time, so it took him less time to answer the door after the doorbell rang. Still, Sam was standing out toward the street, well away from the door.

‘Brought you groceries,’ he explained.

Bill looked in the bag: milk, bread, some fruit and veg. ‘Thank you,’ Bill said gruffly, because it was easier than explaining he’d already been brought groceries.

‘Listen,’ said Sam, ‘Libby and I were talking, and we think maybe we should keep Jack until this is all over. Or at least until we can figure out how to make it safe for him to go back and forth between the houses.’

‘Oh,’ said Bill, and tried not to look upset about this. He wasn’t upset about this. He didn’t care if Jack came over or not. ‘Yeah, sure, that makes perfect sense.’

‘I mean,’ said Sam, ‘maybe we could Facetime or Zoom or something . . . ’ Sam trailed off. ‘Not that you have a computer or a smartphone.’

‘It’s fine.’ Bill waved him away. ‘Thank you for the groceries.’


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‘I think Mr Hammersley’s sad about not seeing Jack,’ Teddy said to his best friend Pari, from three feet into his back garden.

‘Well, yeah,’ said Pari, from three feet into her back garden next door. ‘I’m also sad about not seeing Jack. This whole pandemic thing is the worst.’

‘Maybe we can come up with some way for Jack to visit people, but safely,’ mused Teddy.

‘That won’t work until there’s a cure for the virus,’ grumbled Pari.


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Anna Pachuta was the third person to drop groceries off on his doorstep. It was late, and Bill was getting ready for bed, so it took him quite a long time to make it down the stairs to the front door.

Anna stood the customary distance away, waving cheerfully to Bill. ‘Thought I’d bring you some groceries! Got to keep you away from the shops, you know!’

Bill inventoried the usual: milk, bread, some fruit and veg. He heaved a sigh, then said, ‘Ta very much,’ because, really, it was the thought that counted.


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‘Maybe we could teach Jack social distancing,’ Teddy suggested. ‘And then he could visit people but always stay far away from them.’

‘Half the fun of Jack visiting is petting him, though,’ Pari pouted. Teddy couldn’t see her from their separate gardens but he could still hear the pout pretty clearly. Pari was talented like that.

‘Maybe we could do virtual petting,’ said Teddy.

‘That sounds fake,’ complained Pari.

‘Teddy?’ Sam stuck his head out the door. ‘Time to come in for dinner.’ He raised his voice to call, ‘Hello, Pari!’

‘Hi, Mr Bishop!’ Pari shouted back.

‘Everyone still healthy and safe over there?’


‘Tell your mum and dad I said hello,’ Sam said, and then, ‘Come inside, Teddy.’

Teddy said, ‘Bye, Pari!’ and followed his dad inside. ‘I bet you miss talking to people, too, huh?’

‘You have no idea,’ Sam agreed.


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Diya Basak was the fourth person to drop groceries off on his doorstep. Bill was in the back garden, trying to get a bit of fresh air. He hadn’t realised how much he’d got used to standing outside with Sam Bishop at the end of the day, waiting for the kids to come home from school. Not that he missed it, of course, no, no, he didn’t miss it.

But still.

Milk, bread, some fruit and veg.

Diya waved to him from the polite distance away and said, ‘The kids are working on a plan to virtually pet Jack!’

‘What?’ said Bill blankly.


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‘I don’t know,’ said Sam to Max. ‘Is it too weird an idea?’

‘We are currently FaceTiming even though we live on the same street because the plague prevents us communicating with each other face-to-face,’ Max replied, wrestling Charlie away from drawing on the wall in crayon. ‘I don’t think any idea is weird right now.’

‘Fair point,’ said Sam, and waved at Charlie on the screen. ‘Hi, Charlie. How’s quarantine treating you?’

‘We miss the park,’ Max replied. ‘But at least I’m not having to teach him any science.’

Sam snorted. ‘I’m not sure Teddy thinks I’m trying to teach him science, either.’

Max laughed.


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The fifth time Bill’s doorbell rang, he answered it to see Millie standing on the street and he couldn’t stay quiet any longer.

‘I know all of you think that I am incapable of going to the shops right now, but really, I do not need everyone on the street to bring me groceries constantly! I’ve never had so much milk in my fridge! I’ve no idea what I’m meant to do with all of it! So, I know you all mean well, but no more groceries! Not right now!’

Millie was silent for a second in the face of his outburst, then said, ‘Whilst that sounds like something we really should talk about on the street to coordinate who goes to the shops for you and when . . . I was just dropping off some biscuits.’

Bill looked down at the bag of chocolate biscuits at his feet. Not a grocery bag, after all. ‘. . . Oh. Thank you.’

Millie smiled at him. ‘You’re welcome. Wash your hands!’

Bill had never washed his hands so much in his life. They were raw from the washing. But he kept washing them, after handling anything that came from outside of the house.

He almost forgot to wash them the day that the post brought him a soft toy dog. He looked at it in bewilderment, and then he rang Sam Bishop, because all things always seemed to point back to the Bishop house.

‘Did you send me a toy dog?’ Bill demanded when Sam answered the phone.

And then Teddy was talking to him. ‘Yes! We’ve got an idea! Are you ready?’

‘I suppose,’ said Bill hesitantly, because you never knew what was about to happen on Christmas Street.

‘Okay, stay in your house but go to the front window,’ Teddy commanded. ‘Oh, and bring the stuffed dog.’ And then he hung up the phone.

Bill, quizzical, walked slowly to the front window, holding the toy, because Teddy had asked him to and he didn’t have a better idea.

The Bishops came into view, with Jack alongside them. Jack bounded up toward the window, tail wagging happily.

Bill had to admit he was happy to see him. ‘Hello, Jack,’ he said, smiling down at him.

‘We can’t have him come over,’ Teddy shouted in explanation, ‘because of the virus. But now you’ve got a stuffed toy, so you can pet it like you’d pet Jack, and it’s like virtual petting!’

Virtual petting. Bill had never heard of anything so ridiculous.

But maybe, looking down at Jack, he might have stroked the stuffed dog. Just a bit.

‘Jack’s going to make the rounds for virtual petting every night,’ Teddy continued. ‘What do you think?’

And Bill looked at Teddy’s shining happy face, and this was an utterly strange situation, but small gestures like this made all the difference, didn’t they?

Bill said, ‘Good idea.’





Read the Christmas Street series


The third book in the series, A House in Provence, is out in ebook next week. Pre-order your copy now on the link below!