Saturday, 21 December 2019

Silver's First Christmas - Part 4

Silver was a slave. When he was less than 12 years old, he was kidnapped, tortured and 'conditioned' to be the perfect plaything. What he doesn't know about bringing pleasure isn't worth knowing, but he knows nothing about being free. Since being saved and falling in love, Silver has a lot to learn and it's hard. All he knows is how to obey. Where once he was terrified of the world and everything in it, now he's beginning to see a life beyond his front door, but it's small steps.

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.

The tree is very pretty, much prettier than the one in the shop. Ben, River and I decorated it together. We laughed a lot and drank wine, then laughed even more. Ben didn’t have any because he’s not old enough and he complained a lot until River put a tiny amount in a glass of lemonade.
 River almost knocked the tree over when he tried to put the star on top. I told him to let me do it because I’m the tallest, but he said it was traditional that the head of the family did it. Is he head of our family? I suppose so, but I never looked at it that way before. River has always told me that, now I’m free, no one has power over me, but isn’t that what being the head of something means? Maybe I should ask him about it. Maybe I won’t. River can be naïve about this kind of thing. He often doesn’t understand what’s really going on in situations we find ourselves in and gets upset when I point it out. He says I only think this way because of what happened to me, and he’s probably right, but is that a bad thing?
 We have other decorations, apart from the tree. Red and white stockings hang on the fireplace, big garlands of tree branches decorate the shelves, and there are tablecloths, coasters and all kind of bits and pieces in red, green and gold, mostly covered with tiny lights.
Not everything is decorated, though. River has left the windowsill for me. I think I might have brought too many of the little houses and trees that the art shop, has set up in their window. River says I don’t think things through, and I didn’t this time because their window is so much bigger than ours. I got excited and couldn’t choose.
Ben is supposed to be helping, but he isn’t really. In fact he is getting in the way. He’s already broken two of the houses. River gets cross with him, but I don’t mind. I like to see him so excited. This is his first Christmas since his parents died, and River was worried he would be sad. River is hiding how sad he is, but I catch him sometimes, dreaming with his eyes open. I know he’s thinking of them. I don’t know my parents very well, but I would be sad if they died.
When the houses are finally built, Ben helps me arrange them, with the tiny trees and sparkly cotton stuff that looks like snow. Ben has the idea of putting some of the tiny lights in the trees and around the houses. It’s very pretty.
River puts his arms around my waist and rests his head on my shoulder. “You look happy.”
“I am.” I really mean that. “I’m happier than I can ever remember.” That’s not entirely true, but I can’t tell River I was happy when I was a slave, too. I know it was a bad thing to happen to me, and all the people who did it to me are bad, too, but… Life was simpler then. For the last four years, my Master treated me well. I was quite famous. I rode in limousines, wore beautiful clothes, and had the best cosmetics. Alright, I wasn’t free. I was still a slave, but I felt pride in what I did, and when my Master was pleased with me, I was happy.
River would never understand. He thinks everything that happened to me was bad, and I can’t blame him, considering how it ended. My Master was good to me – until he discovered I had fallen in love with another slave and ordered us both beaten to death. With David, they succeeded. With me, they almost did, but of course, ultimately they failed.
I am not going to think of that now. Although I have been free for well over a year, it’s my very first proper Christmas. I wasn’t really aware of Christmas when I was a slave, and last year I was in a coma, or the dark place inside my head where I lived for a long time afterwards. Maybe I would still be there if River hadn’t found me and rescued me.
I’ve heard a lot about Christmas miracles, although I’m not sure why they’re different to any other miracle. It took a lot of miracles to get me where I am now, and I haven’t even had a Christmas yet.
“Where did that frown come from?”
“It’s not a frown. It’s my thinking face.”
“Oh really? So what are you thinking about?”
“Just that this is my first Christmas. I know it isn’t; not really, but it’s the first I remember.” I turn in River’s arms and gaze into his beautiful face. He looks sad now, and I know why. He’s thinking about the same things I was, but in a much worse way. “There is no one I would rather spend my first Christmas with. You make my whole life light up, like the little lights on the tree. Everything is sparkly, and pretty, and bright. Just like the way you make me feel.”
“Sparkly and pretty and bright?”
“Yes.” I lean in to kiss him, but he pulls away and draws me across the room.
“Kiss me over here.”
“Why? Why does it matter where I kiss you?”
River looks up, and there’s a little bundle of green twigs hanging over our heads, with pretty bow–shaped leaves, and little round berries. I’ve noticed it before, and I thought it was a different kind of holly. Holly is much prettier, because the leaves are shiny, and the berries a lovely, bright red.
“This is mistletoe,” River says. “It’s traditional for everyone to kiss under the mistletoe. It’s just for kissing.”
“Absolutely everyone.”
“Even Ben?”
“No, not Ben. Not for a few years, I hope. Just for grown–ups.”
“Oh. Well, it sounds like it’s quite important. The kissing thing.”
“It’s a tradition. Do you remember what I told you about traditions?”
“Yes, something that’s passed on, from one generation to another, over and over, right?”
“That’s right. And traditions have to be honoured.”
I’m not so sure about that, and I don’t think River exactly means what he says. I don’t always know when he’s teasing me. “I suppose, although I really don’t need tradition to kiss you. Maybe we can start a new tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, and under the tree, and in the kitchen and…well all over the house, and in as many places outside as I can persuade you to try.”
“That sounds like a good tradition to me.” River’s eyes are very bright. He has the prettiest eyes, and they shine brighter than the Christmas lights. I glance up at the mistletoe and wonder how many times, over the years, people have used it as an excuse to kiss someone they really want to kiss. We don’t need mistletoe, but it’s nice to think about all those other kisses, as our lips meet and the mistletoe, the lights and everything else fades into one absolute certainty – I love River, and he loves me. That’s enough of a Christmas miracle for me.

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