Silence. They hadn’t heard it, or close to it, in thirty years. This was the first Christmas Eve since they decided on children that their house was empty on a December 24th night. They had been invited places, including the places their children were celebrating, but decided to spend a Christmas Eve just the two of them.
Silence. It was something they were always comfortable with. It was something they never got, having a family of six. The crackling of the fire and the intermittent hum from the furnace were the only things that broke it.
Silence. During dinner they talked about the mishaps and triumphs of Christmas’ past. With four kids, the list was long enough to last years. They talked about the Christmas’ they had before kids, when it was just the two of them. When they would spend time at their parents’ houses and then go meet their friends. Or when they bought their first house and hosted their first Christmas. They remembered the first Christmas presents they bought for each other. They remembered the year they agreed to buy nothing to save money, but then ended up spending more on the last minute trip they took.
Silence. They snuggled into each other on the couch and stared at the tree. Silence.
The Earth was never silent but she hoped that one day maybe some form of peaceful silence could be achieved. Earth knew herself well enough. Her insides were molten rock, that moved and erupted. Her surface a wild mess of waves and storms and though sometimes calm, it always had a breeze, it always had movement. Her core was more powerful than any human or animal could ever imagine, but the simplest animals were closer to understanding than the smartest human.
It was the humans Earth worried about the most. They couldn’t destroy her. As much as they thought they could or were, she had been around for billions of years. Even if they ruined her surface, thus, ruining themselves, Earth wasn’t going anywhere. Nature would rebuild itself eventually and then the animals would be back as well, however, it still hurt Earth to see how the humans hurt each other and their surroundings.
Earth wished that at some point, each human would stand still in silence. She wished they would erase everything they had been taught about themselves and each other. She wished that each human would just experience a moment of silent peace without thoughts of judgement from themselves, others, or the gods they created and claim to want peace. She wished, that at one point, she had the power to make this happen.
Earth, unfortunately, did not have any power except to provide the canvas for certain types of life. Life, she hoped, that would grow to love and accept itself as much as she loved it.
When Stella returned from her last Christmas Eve dinner with her family she felt content. They didn’t know it was her last, because she didn’t tell them of her terminal diagnosis. She was happy to have them enjoy Christmas with an innocence she wished she had.
She sat in her favourite chair in her modest living room, on the first floor of her large, Victorian Annex home. This had been her home for fifty years and she remembered the two of the children she had just visited running up and down the stairs when the other was just an infant. Christmas was always a crazy time of friends, family and more food than Stella could imagine when she was growing up.
The silence permeated every corner of the house now and Stella was comfortable. She looked at the neglected fireplace and thought about her last moments and the inevitable silence that would come with her death. It was the ultimate silence. As the darkness slowly closed in on her vision, if she still had sight before she went, what would the transition be like?
Stella didn’t believe in an afterlife other than as an alternate word for death. She had been raised religious, as were many people of her generation, but the sorrows of the passing years, and some deep thought had changed her beliefs into something more resembling agnostic. Stella didn’t care if there was a God, gods, a pre-life or an afterlife. All she cared about, in the silence of her last Christmas Eve, was the remainder of this life. If something else came after, so be it, if not, hallelujah.