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Christmas Story by Gordana Radic, Sensa Viva

The lights were finally on. Her shimmering white, round body became a playground of colours.  Slowly like a melancholic lullaby, blue and green sparkles gave way to the golden reddish rays. 

"Another night out of the box," thought the Ball, surrounded by twinkling tiny glass decorations, cheerfully swaying in wonder every time passing vehicle lights illuminated living room window. 

"Well, they're new.  That much is clear." Suddenly she was flashed with memories of her first outing. Her Christmas tree was so fragrant, lively green and endlessly amusing.  He kept playing, swinging her on his branches, and she laughed cheerfully.  He called her Pearly, and she called him Greeny. 

They had no idea how short their time together would be.  One morning, no warning, they unhanged her, wrapped her in layers of thick paper and stored in a dark box.  She was taken to a room called attic. At that time Pearly had no knowledge of what attic was or where it was but over time, she understood it was a rarely visited place where unused things were stored.  She didn't even know what had happened to Greeny.  His fresh sent withered away and no sound from his branches could be heard, just the commotion and whispering of other Christmas decorations. Aware they were all deposited together somewhere nearby, still she felt alone, carefully wrapped in a special box.  She has been treated differently since her owner first lifted her off the shelf in the store.  Pearly clearly remembers the way woman raised her eyebrow and deeply sighed.  She was picking her up and returning to that shelf many times whilst Pearly wondered if something was wrong with her, making her less desirable…  Later hanging from the tree in a new house, she overheard rumour of some precious pearly decoration, but no matter how much she sought it, she could not see it.  Maybe it was on another side of the tree, the one she could not reach. 

That first year, she asked Greeny about the mysterious, precious decoration but he just laughed cheerfully and called her silly.  For that moment she quickly forgot both the question and not getting the answer. 

The following time, when she was finally taken out of the box and unwrapped, Pearly excitedly waited for Greeny.  The branch she was hanged on smelled of plastic and styrofoam, it was clearly not her Greeny. 

Seasons of going in and out of to the dark box were passing by.  Pearly could not say how many exactly. She has never met Greeny again and has never seen this precious pearl ornament.  At times, she would try to ask the other balls if they knew anything about them, but they seemed to have difficulty understanding her, they would just swing in some kind of trance, uncaring. Some of them didn't even have voices, but their plastic bodies skilfully bounced off the floor when they fell.  At first, Pearly was terrified of falling.  Over time, she witnessed many balls loudly smashing into thousands of pieces.  The mess was quickly mopped with little bit of murmuring and taken away somewhere. 

Sometimes, as Pearly lay in her dark solitude, she wondered where those pieces ended up and if it might be some place better than this box.  As time went on, the fear of falling was replaced with genuine curiosity. 

Suddenly Peary was awakened from her thoughts by the cry "I want this ball!". 

She was grabbed by the little hands of a familiar girl with shiny eyes. 

"Watch it!" exclaimed the owner, trying to release Pearly, "You can have any ball but not this one."

"But I want her!" the girl demanded, clenching her palms and stomping on the floor.

"Please let go, it's going to break.  Tomorrow, we go to the store with your mom and I'll buy you any ball you want."

"I do not want it! I don't want another ball!"

"I can't give you this one," replied the woman, "It's my precious ball.  A gift I bought myself a long time ago and it has very special meaning to me.”

Pearly painfully groaned between the clenching hands, feeling her delicate edges crackling.  A moment later, little girl stared at two broken halves in her palms.  Flashed with fear and shock she screamed and let the halved ball out of her hand.  Pearly parts were scattered on the floor. 

"Oh My God," the woman exclaimed, "Are you o.k.? "Did you cut yourself?"

She quickly examined the girl's hands and after making sure she was fine, lifted her in her arms and headed for the front door. "Now we are going home to your mom!"

After returning, the woman crouched over precious shuttered pieces and slowly started to collect them one by one in Pearly's box.  Tears flowed quietly down her face.  She remembered all the past Christmases and it felt like she was collecting pieces of her heart.  When she gathered everything, she sat down on the floor.  With a box on her lap, she watched a plastic Christmas tree and lazy flickering lights.  Every blink was a reminder of transience.

Finally, she stood up and walked into the garden behind the house, hidden from the view of the living room.  There was planted her first Christmas tree, from a time that now seemed like another life.  Pine was now taller, greener, and more fragrant than it had ever been in her house.  Carefully she placed a box with remains of her presiouc Christmas pearl ball at its base.  Silently she stood there for a while, and then softly turned around and disappeared into the darkness of the night returning to her house.

If she had stayed a little longer, she could have seen hundreds of tiny lights rising from the shattered parts of Pearly, heading for the stars.  She could hear the quiet laughter of Greeny swinging cheerfully with his branches in recognition.   Although she did not see this and did not hear it, without knowing the reason her heart was suddenly filled with peace and acceptance.  

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