The Author's Gift
“I step outside my doorway; the world assaults me there
I hear Weewoos flocking in the trees, nesting in their lairs
The snow is deep, a blanket, covering the sleeping ground
And across the street are carolers, the sweet melodious sound
The smell of pie assaults me, but I really do not mind
And the warmth of my neohome beckons me from behind
As I take in all the beauty, I smile and turn away
Appreciating all the wonder on this winter day.”
“That’s such a pretty poem, honey! Really captures the spirit of the day. Did you write it?”
Trey turned away from the book in his hands towards his mother, a pink Cybunny currently attempting to bake chocolate chip cookies. “As if, Mom. I can’t write for my life. This is one of Clyde Silverman’s poems.”
“Ah. Mr. Silverman.” His mom nodded, pouring chocolate chips into the doughy mixture and stirring them with a wooden spoon. “His pieces are classic, especially around this time of year.” She paused from her recipe and glanced out the window, watching as the gentle snowflakes danced down from the heavens to land delicately on the ground. “Today really is the most beautiful Day of Giving we’ve had in years.”
“I guess,” Trey murmured distractedly. The silver Kougra was flipping to the back of the book where the author biography was, curious to learn more about the neopet who could use words so accurately to describe the season. On the flap there was a small picture of an older blue Lutari smiling, his eyes creased from years of laughter, and underneath it in careful print was the small description: “Clyde Silverman is the beloved holiday author who has written more than twenty different books of poetry chronicling his wintertime experiences over the years. He lives alone in his small cottage on 127 Cairn Close in Neopia Central along with his Dandan named Chipper.”
“Aww. The poor old man.” Trey’s mom frowned, spooning out clumps of dough onto a baking sheet. “All alone on the Day of Giving? That just isn’t right.” Her rose eyes were downcast as she slipped the tray into the oven, but as she adjusted the dial on the stove, her face brightened.
“I know!” she exclaimed, turning towards her son. “Trey! Why don’t you head on over to Cairn Close and bring Mr. Silverman some cookies? It’s only a few blocks away, and I’m sure he would appreciate a visitor.”
The Kougra raised an eyebrow, his grey eyes staring at his mother as if she had sprouted an extra head. “I don’t know, Mom. Isn’t it kind of... random to just go to his house bearing cookies?”
His mom tutted. “It’s called courtesy, Trey.”
“Alright, alright, I’ll go,” Trey said, resigned, turning back to the book to look at the picture again. He looks nice enough, he thought to himself, and I guess it’d be cool to finally meet the guy who’s been writing all these poems. Besides, I need to do something good today; it is the Day of Giving after all.
So with that thought, Trey got up from the table and went to grab his scarf.
By the time Trey headed out the door, not only was he carrying a basket full of warm chocolate cookies, but his mother had also crammed into his arms a jar of homemade jam and a box of miniature white chocolate wreaths decorated with festive red icing bows. Carrying them precariously in his arms and reminded strangely of the poor neopet from Wicked Wocky Wobble, the silver Kougra stepped outside into the cold winter air.
Trey tentatively started down the shoveled pathway as the snow whirled around him, landing on his fur and speckling his red scarf with flakes of white. The evergreen trees that lined the roads were coated in snow, random branches dangling icicles like beautiful glass ornaments, and his young neighbors were out in their front yard building Snow Skeiths with pointed carrot noses.
Winter really is quite beautiful, he thought to himself, walking down the salted streets and breathing in the fresh air. Although the sky was mostly covered in thick snow clouds, it was a bright day, the snow on the ground reflecting the scarce sunrays and creating rainbows of glitter.
It didn’t take long to reach Cairn Close, and then it only took a few seconds for Trey’s eyes to find the silver number 127 on one of the doors. Mr. Silverman’s house was more like a small cottage, painted a fresh blue with a bright red front door. Snow Yooyu flowers lined the driveway, and the spotless windows glowed with the brilliance of soft candle light.
Making sure not to drop any of his offerings, Trey carefully waded to the front door and pressed the doorbell with his shoulder. The resulting ring reminded him of the popular Christmas tune based off the book Meepit Carols.
The sounds of someone scuffling over to answer the door immediately followed, and a few seconds after that, Trey was greeted by a man identical to the picture on the back of the book: Clyde Silverman.
He was a tall blue Lutari, his face filled with creases of age but with a good-natured look to him. His eyes were a glossy blue, he was sporting a green sweater, and perched on top of his shoulder was a Dandan, the red fox-like petpet watching Trey curiously from his roost.
“Well, well, Chipper, seems we have a visitor.” The writer breathed in deeply. “Mmm... and it seems he brought us some holiday goodies. Who might you be, young neopet?”
“Trey, sir. I live over on Bracknell. I really enjoy everything you’ve written and my mom wanted me to bring you some cookies... and jam and chocolates.” The silver Kougra blushed gently. “My mom gets a bit carried away at times.”
Mr. Silverman chuckled, his eyes staring out into the distance as if he was looking at something only he could see. “Mothers are like that sometimes. But please, do come in! I doubt your poor mother wants you to freeze to death out on that stoop.”
Trey started to protest, but the author persisted. “Oh come on, boy. I can’t eat all those cookies by myself, and Chipper here is on a diet.”
Trey appraised the petpet briefly, noticing he was a bit on the plump side, and finally relented. “Alright, Mr. Silverman. Thank you.”
He stepped over the threshold into the warmth of the house while Mr. Silverman started down the carpeted hallway towards the parlor. As he led him along, Trey noticed for the first time that he gripped a cane in his right hand, although he seemed perfectly able to walk. How strange... he thought.
Once they reached the family room, the old Lutari settled himself in a plush armchair by a roaring fire, Chipper climbing down off his shoulder to fall asleep in his lap. Trey sat opposite him in another chair, this one close to a decorated tree made up for the occasion. Flickering lights glinted from in-between the fronds while a mismatch of ornaments were randomly scattered throughout. It wasn’t perfect, or even remotely beautiful compared to the picture-perfect holiday trees portrayed in books, but it had a carefree, whimsical feel that made Trey smile.
“So, Trey, why don’t you pull out some cookies for us to nibble on and we can discuss the holiday?” Mr. Silverman turned his head towards him, his eyes not exactly latching onto Trey’s, but in the general vicinity of the young Kougra’s face. “Have you been enjoying your Day of Giving?”
“Oh, yes sir. It’s my favorite holiday of the year.”
“Really? Mine too. That’s why I write about it so much.” He grinned. “This time of year never ceases to amaze me. The sounds, the smells, the feelings...”
Trey put the goodie basket onto the coffee table and reached for a cookie, the chocolate chips melting in his mouth as he took a bite. “I got one of your books earlier this morning, a gift from my dad before he headed out to shovel some of our neighbors’ driveways. You’re a really good writer.”
“Why, thank you. I try my best.” He leaned back in his chair, placing his cane down on the floor as he stroked the Dandan in his lap. “Sometimes it’s hard when you can’t see the world the same way everyone else can.”
Trey looked at him curiously. “What do you mean?”
Mr. Silverman turned to him, an amused look on his face. “You mean you haven’t figured it out yet? My dear Trey, I’m blind.”
Trey froze, the cookie tumbling out of his paw. “Bl-blind?” he stammered. “As in, you can’t see? At all?”
“Ever since birth,” he answered calmly.
“But... but...” Trey thought back, his eyes widening as everything clicked into place: Mr. Silverman’s glossy stare, the cane, the erratically decorated tree...
“But that just doesn’t make any sense!” he complained. “You wrote all those poems describing the holidays! Were they just words? Did you not mean any of it?”
“My boy,” Mr. Silverman answered, sounding a bit hurt, “of course I meant them. Every single word!”
“But that’s impossible! You can’t see!” The words came out harsher than he had intended, but Trey didn’t care. He felt betrayed, and it made him sick to his stomach.
“Trey, please listen to me,” the author said softly, his blind blue eyes staring slightly to the right of Trey’s head. “There’s more to life than just seeing, more to the world than what we can physically take in with our eyes.”
“I don’t understand.”
Mr. Silverman sighed. “The best part of the Month of Giving is not merely what we see, but what we experience. To me, this time of year is associated with the songs of carolers, the smell of pie, the warmth of an open fire. Just because I can’t see doesn’t mean I can’t experience the holiday and share with my readers my own view of the world.”
Trey looked up at the author’s face, desperately trying to understand his words, but failing miserably. The concept was just too baffling, too foreign to be true. In his eyes, the author was now nothing more than a fake.
A long moment of awkward silence passed before Trey mumbled, “Sir, I really should be getting home.”
“Ah, yes,” Mr. Silverman said sadly, catching the note of despair in the young Kougra’s voice. “Would you like me to walk you to the door?”
“That’s alright. I can see where it is just fine.”
The author involuntarily winced, but then put a smile on his face. “Alrighty, then. It was nice meeting you, Trey. And thank you for the cookies. Tell your mother that she’s a wonderful baker.”
“Yes, I will,” Trey answered, getting to his feet, suddenly eager to head on out of the room.
“And if you ever want to pay me a visit again, I’d be happy to share with you a few of my newer poems, ones that haven’t been published yet. And Chipper here is a pretty decent help when it comes to making chocolate cake.”
“Maybe.” By now, Trey was out in the hallway, trying to block out the author’s words as he strode towards the front door.
“Oh, and have a merry Day of Giving!” Mr. Silverman called after him.
But Trey didn’t answer. He had reached the door, and without a second glance back, he had headed outside.
The weather hadn’t changed in the few minutes he had spent inside the house, but Trey suddenly felt colder. The glorious snow falling down around him suddenly seemed suffocating. He just wished it would all go away.
He tried to forget about Mr. Silverman and his poems as he stormed off the porch and down the driveway, but he couldn’t. I step outside my doorway, the world assaults me there... I hear Weewoos flocking in the trees, nesting in their lairs...
Trey flinched. It was horrible to think that Mr. Silverman couldn’t enjoy the sights of the season, but wasn’t it even worse that he lied to the thousands of people with his poems? That he was a complete fraud?
But did he really lie?
Trey paused in the middle of the road, and looked around. White snow, fresh evergreens, picturesque cookie-cutter houses... all the same sights from earlier. But what else was there?
A bit curious, Trey cautiously closed his eyes.
The world around him went dark.
This is stupid, he scolded himself after a few moments of standing there like an idiot. He was about to open his eyes and continue on his way... but that’s when it happened.
Suddenly it was as if a new world had opened up before him, his senses flaring outwards to take everything in. He could hear the birds now, fluttering from tree to tree, along with the gentle silence of the falling snow. Children were laughing, their voices ringing high and clear. Someone was playing piano in one of the neighboring houses, the sweet notes drifting gently through the crisp air, and the smell of a roasted Grackle-Bug Turkey resonated from somewhere nearby.
It was wonderful.
Clyde Silverman wasn’t a liar; he was a writer, an author who had just given Trey the true gift of the season.
Trey’s eyes snapped open, the bright winter light shrinking his pupils as his stomach flip-flipped uncomfortably. Without another thought, he turned on his heels and starting running, retracing his steps to 127 Cairn Close.
He owed the old Lutari an apology.
And at the same time, he was suddenly itching for some of Chipper’s chocolate cake and a good holiday poem to go along with it.