Writing Silver was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Seeing the world through eyes that can't remember ever having seen it before was so refreshing, so thought provoking. I've jotted down some of the thoughts it provoked in a series of stories about Silver's First Christmas, and I'm going to share them with you over the next two weeks. I hope you enjoy.
If you do, check out Silver's journey to get to this point in the Enigma series.
All the way home, I struggled to remain present, to stop my mind slipping back into the past, and into the safe place where I used to hide. It exhausted me, and I would have liked to rest, but Ben was so excited about decorating the tree, what could I do?
My hand shakes as I lift the lights from their box. River takes them from me and steers me to the sofa. “Sit there for a while. Ben and I can do the tree.”
“What’s wrong?” Ben stops bouncing around the tree and fussing with the soil in the big bucket the tree stands in.
“Nothing. Silver’s just a bit…”
“Was it me?” Ben sounds so anxious. It makes me feel bad. “Was I too excited?”
“I like it when you’re excited.”
I don’t like it when my voice shakes, though. I wish it didn’t because it quenches the light in Ben’s eyes.
Ben sits down and cuddles in to my side. River tries to stop him, but I don’t mind. The solid, living presence grounds me, makes me feel better.
“Were you scared? Did it make you remember things?”
Sometimes, Ben is too perceptive. “Yes, something like that.”
“It’s okay. We’re here. You’re safe now. It’s okay to be scared out there. It’s a scary world when you’re not used to it. When I was little, I used to cry when they cut down the tree, but my father said it’s what the tree was born for, and even though cutting it down makes it die in the end, we allow it to fulfil its life’s purpose when we decorate it.” Ben sits up and grins at me. “Of course, that’s a load of bull, but it helped me when I was little. Does it help you?”
Strange, but actually it does. Thinking about little Ben crying over the tree, and his father telling him stories to make it better… I’m sure my own father used to do that. I don’t remember, but he’s the kind of man who would have. Thinking about my parents always makes me feel better. I haven’t known them for very long, at least that I can remember, but I like them a lot. Maybe I even love them, but not like River.
“Yes, thank you. Can I help with the tree?”
Ben jumps up and pulls me to my feet. I’m the tallest so I’m nominated to put the lights at the top of the tree. Left up to Ben we would just wind them round and round without thinking about how they look. I, on the other hand, care a lot about how they look and keep twitching them until they’re just right.
Then, River hands out little shiny balls. They are light as air in my hand and must be very thin. I should be careful not to drop one. Oops, there goes one of Ben’s. Yes, just as I thought, it shatters. Ben doesn’t seem upset. Why? These are beautiful things and should be cherished.
“Don’t you care that it broke?”
“What? Oh. No, we have loads. And if there’s not enough, we can get more.”
I lift the globe to my eyes. It is silver. Part of it is frosted and rough to my fingers. The other half is shiny and bright. It’s beautiful. Truly beautiful. “But it’s beautiful. Everything beautiful is precious. There’s not enough beauty in the world to be so careless with it.” I pick up another ball. This one is light purple, with a swirly pattern. “Can’t you see? Look how it catches the light.”
River and Ben are staring at me with wide eyes. Then River smiles. “Yes, I can see,” he says.
I don’t think he’s talking about the globe.
“I never thought about it like that,” Ben says, holding a ball in front of his eyes. “I’ll be more careful, I promise.”
I help Ben clear up the pieces of the broken bauble, then we go back to decorating the tree. When it’s finished, it really is beautiful, with many coloured balls. When the lights are switched on, it will be amazing; so much prettier than the one in the shop.
“Just one more thing,” River says.
“I don’t think we can fit on any more balls.”
“It’s not a ball.” Reaching into the box, River brings out something that sparkles. He hands it to me. “As you’re the only one who can reach without standing on something, you can have the honour of placing the angel this time.”
“Angel?” I take the sparkly thing carefully, and hold it up. I have never seen anything so beautiful. It’s a doll. She’s wearing a dress made of stiff gold net, and sparkling crystals on wires bend to make her dress look as though it’s floating around her. From her back, two wings rise that can also bend so it looks as if they’re fluttering and she’s hovering above the tree, rather than sitting on it.
“She’s beautiful,” I breathe. “So beautiful.”
I’m so lost in the angel I forget about everything else until Ben tugs on my arm. “Put her on the tree,” he prompts and I’m sure my smile is dazed. With a glance at River, who is gazing at me with an expression of wonder on his face, I turn and place the angel on the very tip of the tree which bends and sways until her weight settles. She’s perfect.