Walking Backwards for Christmas: Bethany, Queen of Christmas

Walking Backwards for Christmas, Chapter 6, Part 3– Between the Walls: Bethany, Queen of Christmas

Queen of ChristmasThe crack was resounding and reassuring, tangible in an environment where I was certain of very little, but also caused me to worry that we might cave in the hollow section of the wall where we were; from the look on Stan and Bethany’s faces, I wasn’t alone. It held perfectly well, though, and, after a moment, both tried to cover being taken aback with a nervous laugh.

Each seemed almost equally surprised by the swag that lay before them and, to an extent, so was I. I was glad to find that the usual silly paper crowns had been replaced by Christmas season character masks that slipped over our heads. Each of us had one that fitted us perfectly: Gramfer was a reindeer; Stan one of Santa’s brownies and I was Jack Frost.

But, Bethany had become Queen of Christmas.

Her white satin gown had become regal crimson velvet, festooned with red silk and gold brocade. Iridescent glitter shone in her hair, crowned with a headdress of holly berries. But, most astounding, when she slipped the mask on, the unearthly pallor of her skin disappeared – its color had returned, and she looked the way she must have looked in life. I hadn’t realized until that moment how lovely she really was.

Caught in the spirit of the moment, the three of us sincerely and humbly genuflected. For a serving girl to be Queen of Christmas — or queen of anything, for that matter, even in fantasy and but for a moment — seemed to quite overwhelm her, and she glowed more brightly than anything around her, even as I saw a tear sparkle in each of her eyes.

She bade us rise, hugging us in turn. “No queen e’er could seek men with hearts truer than thine.”

We returned to the table to examine the rest of the crackers’ contents. I was also glad to see that the crackers had dispensed with the usual cheesy “toys,” and sheets of lame jokes and “fun facts,” for contents worthy of a girl who was having over three centuries of missed Christmas teas made up – or attempting to be made up – to her at once. She had silver bracelets and earrings, a choker with a silver brooch, along with small silver-plated mirrors, hairbrushes and scissors.

There was an old-style quill appended to a leather diary. She explained that she didn’t write very well, but Gramfer said something about her not having to write much. She received a tiny crystal atomizer filled with a honeysuckle-orange blossom scent, along with a pair of matching silver items, two tiny emeralds in one and two sapphires in the other, which I couldn’t quite figure out but which seemed to be charms of some kind. Whatever they were, she seemed to set great store by them.

Stan and I also each received two similar silver figures. Gramfer lifted his mask a second. He looked at us as if signaling that he expected us to hand them over to Bethany. Anxious to avoid a fight, not having the slightest idea what they were for, and wanting to give her something anyway, we readily agreed and in doing so, made Bethany, Queen of Christmas, glow even more radiantly.

© 2014, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.

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G. H. McCallum

G. H. McCallum is author of the Reggie Stone series, the first of which, Walking Backwards for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall, was released on 12 December 2014; look for the second, The Bluebottle Boys, in late spring of 2016. He blogs principally on the 1960s, Victoriana and magic realism.