In the lead up to Christmas 2014 we will publish a series of festive and inspirational posts written by the authors at The Madeleine Milburn Agency.
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Christmas Day with the Witch from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I wake in a sleigh. Sparkling white for miles and beyond, glistening diamonds catching the light. Sky and snow spiked with the burned incense of fir trees, shivering in the chill. The tip of my nose tingles; my lips are cracked with cold.
A deep, thick blanket, as deep and thick as the snow, covers my legs. It is made of something unbearably soft, like cashmere and marshmallows. The sides of the sleigh are ice and frosted with jewels. I smell sweetness. She is next to me. The witch.
Her pale hand, delicate as a comb and laden with rings, offers a silver tray. Powdery cubes of Turkish delight are coated in dust. Rose and lemon, perfumed loveliness; I put one on my tongue. It tastes of some exotic familiarity, of deep pink sunsets and English rainfall. Like a plumped cushion, it yields and fattens between my teeth.
‘More?’ the witch asks. There is a shard of white light in her gleaming eye. I’ve forgotten what I meant to say, never mind the words for it.
With a flick of her wrist, the sleigh moves. The wolves run hard, grey against the flat white snow, muscles tight beneath strict black harnesses. Faster and faster we ride, so fast my breath freezes at some point we’ve left behind, and when I think we can’t go faster we go faster still. In a dim closet of memory, I remember Christmas. It is that day: I think of falling asleep in my bedroom at home, beyond the wardrobe and the hanging clothes, beyond the forest, the glow of a streetlamp hidden inside…
We arrive at a castle made of glass. Fossilized figures howl a silent song. Another key turns and I recall the lion warning me of this place. Where frozen souls go.
‘There’s more inside,’ the witch says, and licks her lips. She is beautiful and ugly at the same time. I look down at the tray of Turkish delight. The wolves moan. I have to get home – but where is the wardrobe? Where is the lion? Where is the way back?
I think of Christmas, at home. The log fire crackling; scarlet baubles on fragrant pine; a ticking clock, chiming at midnight; carol singers wrapped in scarves; a fat, golden turkey; cutlery gleaming in candlelight and boxes of biscuits tied up with ribbon.
It all seems very far away. I don’t know how I got here.
Then there is another sleigh, in the distance. This one I recognise. It’s red and piloted by a fleet of deer, several feet above the snow, and is heaped with presents of all shapes and sizes. I climb from the witch’s sledge and start running. ‘Wait—’ she calls behind me, then with terrible, echoing fury: ‘Wait!’ I hear the wolves at my back, snarling, growling, their hot breath racing, their paws churning the snow.
The reindeer have seen me. I put a hand out and the man takes it, and I feel myself being lifted. I can’t see his face, but I know he’s going where I am going.
I wake in my bed, beneath deep, thick patchwork. It is cold outside. A bursting woollen stocking hangs on the fireplace. A clock ticks Christmas morning. I turn away from the wardrobe and toward the window, where snowflakes tap the glass.