July 26, 2020

Boxing Day in July: The Miraculous Kingdom of Silver and Gold, by Kelly Jarvis


I had no fear.


When I pulled my mother’s candle from the space between my breasts, I had no fear its light would reveal a troll. I knew it was a man’s body that embraced me while I lay half asleep in the dark, dreaming of soft white fur. I thought my kiss would break the enchantment and transform him back into the bear that I loved. Instead, the hot wax burned his fragile skin, and he angrily cast me away because I had defied his command.


I had no fear when I set out on the long journey to find him in the land between the setting sun and rising moon. I knew I was the one who should have him, though he was betrothed to another. I had grown up in rags, but my childhood had been rich in stories, and I believed that faith and love would light my way. I clung to the North Wind as he whisked me over the frigid landscape. Snowstorms swirled in our wake, burying towns in torrents of ice and upheaving ships at sea.


I had no fear when the hideous trolls brought me his shirt and forced me to launder it in exchange for his freedom. I plunged the soiled cloth into the soapy water and pulled it from the basin, clean and white like the Christ Child’s swaddling clothes.


He forgave my curiosity, and I vowed to love him in his human form. We returned to the mortal realm, together and unafraid.


***


Our marriage was blessed with children, each one lovelier than the loveliest thing either of us could imagine. They all had hair as white as fresh fallen snow, and when I carried my candle into their nurseries to see them sleeping, it looked as if their heads were crowned with tufts of soft white fur.


Half wild, they frolicked through the frozen forest, their white heads tumbling against each other like snowflakes swirling toward land. Their godfather, the North Wind, kissed their cheeks rosy with his icy breath, but they never felt the cold.


Every year in December, when the earth paused in solstice silence, we gave the children silver bells to fill our holiday home with the jingling sounds of joy. There were presents wrapped in sterling paper, golden apples gleaming on the hearth, and thick storybooks with gilded edges waiting to be read. Tiny golden suns and silver moons dangled from our Christmas tree, and, when we lit the tapers woven into the evergreen branches, their dancing glow rivaled the beauty of the stars.


***


Our house is quiet now, even in December. The tapers on our tree have been replaced by electric strands of lights which leave no trace of tallow to mark where they have been.


Our children, who grew as big as bears, have left us. My kisses could not transform them back into the babies that I loved.


I gave them each a candle to take with them on their quests.


They have no fear.


On Christmas Eve, my husband lies next to me in the dark. I snuggle against his furry white beard. In my dreams, we are young again, and he carries me on his back through mountains covered in white-haired snow. Faith and love flicker fearlessly around us, pushing away the endless night.


We awaken on Christmas morning, together and unafraid, at home in the miraculous kingdom of silver and gold that lies east of the sun and west of the moon.


***


Kelly Jarvis teaches classes in literature, writing, and fairy tale at Central Connecticut State University, The University of Connecticut, and Tunxis Community College. She lives, happily ever after, with her husband and three sons in a house filled with fairy tale books.


***

Image by Theodore Kittelsen.

26 comments:

  1. The Miraculous Kingdom of Silver and Gold is a sweet wintery escape from a hot sweltering summer afternoon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Amy! I am so happy you liked the story! Only five months til Christmas! 😊

      Delete
  2. A lovely tale from a lovely professor ❤️

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I have the world's best students!

      Delete
  3. Wow, this was truly a beautiful story. I loved how you continued the original tale of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, but also related it to your own life. I also enjoyed the use of descriptive words all related to winter. Whether it was the children’s hair white as fallen snow or the icy breath of the North Wind, it gave me a chill on this hot summer day! Beautiful story, Kelly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved the kids’ hair! That was a great touch!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Stanley! Winter will be here before we know it! I love East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and I am happy you like it too!

      Delete
  4. This is beautiful! I know how happy you are when you write. I believe there are many more wonderful stories to come! I am so proud of you!!! ❤️

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading! I feel so blessed to have my story published here on Enchanted Conversations!

      Delete
  5. This tale was absolutely beautiful! A treasure!

    ReplyDelete
  6. After a terribly rough few weeks, reading this story made me happier than I have been in quite some time. Beautiful language, beautiful story, fabulous writer. Hope there are many more to come!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This tale was absolutely enchanting! We truly are east of the sun and west of the moon. Kudos to the author that wrote this story!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Residing in the southern hemisphere, it is Winter for me and this enchanting tale with a touch of both taboo and strength resides well within the extreme of the season. The fullness of the tale provides a lovely fairy tale to completion.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautiful story with such vivid imagery.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love the use of colour here - all the senses, in fact.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a wonderful adventure and life described here. I love the fearlessness, the love, the appreciation for the cold (all the more so because it is so hot in rural Portugal where I am currently sitting!). The North Wind as a godfather? Brilliant. And quite a twist that she had to compromise to love the man when she really was in love with the bear. In some ways I wish this was a longer story, perhaps even a book. And yet, it is perfect as is.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful! This made me happy!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love the lyrical narration - it's almost a prose poem.

    ReplyDelete

SITE DESIGNED BY PRETTYWILDTHINGS