An Extraordinary Giftbyceltcdawn©
The fired glowed softly on the hearth, bathing the aged oak floors in warmth and color. Multicolored pillows still lay mounded across the floor before the fire, and the tall triple pane windows still stood sentinel over the room. She never explained the chains and hooks located around the ceiling, and her children nor guests had ever asked. The old rocker her daughter had brought her when she'd begun to slow down sat silent in the corner, as though waiting for someone to claim it, to make it speak its own easy language. It had remained unused day in and day out since its arrival. Kiley had appreciated the gesture, but her place remained in the pillows, waiting.
Abigail, their daughter, had tried to get her to settle into the chair. She'd tempted her mother with pillows and bright colored soft throws and warm encouraging words filled with a daughters' love.
"Momma. Please. The cold floors are not good for your arthritis. You know how much it pains you when winter comes."
Kiley had steadfastly refused. She'd known her place when she met Edgar and it was in that place that he would expect her to be when he came for her. She would admit only to herself and Edgar when she was alone with her memories, that it was difficult to stand after kneeling among the pillows. But this too would pass, though she never mentioned as much to her daughter. A few times she had allowed Abigail's husband or brother to pick her up and settle her on the couch. When they left, she would slowly stand and make her way back into her pillows to wait.
She sat there now, gnarled fingers cloaked in paper thin skin stroking the teardrop diamond suspended from the thin gold collar around her throat. More years ago than she could remember most days Edgar had placed the collar there, his laughing brown eyes sparkling with joy and happiness as he claimed that which had always belonged to him.
"Now my little golden girl, you belong to me." His fingers caressed her cheek as her own came up to tentatively touch the gold band. "And, if you are a good girl, one Christmas I'll add a pretty bauble to the choker." He'd put on his most strict face. "But you must earn it."
Playfully she'd nipped at his finger and asked, "What would you have me do to earn it Master?"
"Hmm. I suppose I'll have to demand something extraordinary."
His voice had softened then, filled with the love that crowded his heart. His hands cupped her face as his lips brushed across hers. "For you are a most extraordinary submissive, and you are mine."
She remembered as clear as the snow falling outside what followed. He bound her and lifted her above the floor suspended by her arms. They'd been much stronger then, her body more supple. The things he'd done to her would never be mentioned in polite society, nor among the friends they'd maintained down the mountain. If the question was ever raised why Edgar and his lovely companion never entertained, it was never asked within range of them. But he could make her body burn with hunger or sing with pleasure at his whim. Her entire being had been devoted to maintaining his pleasure. And he never denied her own, though he often took his sweet agonizing time offering it to her.
Looking up, Kiley fastened her rheumy gaze on the chains and pulleys attached to the ceiling. Rust had claimed them long ago, silent witness to the passing of time, and of Edgar. But the memories permeated the room, enveloping her in warmth and sweetness. On a warm summer day, she could still hear the steady rhythm of metal against wood as her Master split and stacked wood for winter. In the soft mountain breeze that brushed against her skin, she could still catch the salty scent of sweat and sun from his skin.
And in the night, moments before sleep claimed her, she could feel the warmth of his breath against her neck, the firmness of his body stretched along hers, the slow brush of his lips across her forehead just before he whispered, "I love my golden girl."
In all her days, Kiley would never forget the last time he'd said those words to her. He and their son Jacob had left early one morning to hunt. Kiley and Abigail spent the morning baking and preparing side dishes for supper. Jacob was leaving Christmas Day to report to basic training before the New Year began. They'd agreed to have Christmas early. Their celebration was planned for the following day, two days before Christmas. The tree stood majestically in the corner of the living room, framed by the woodlands beyond. Already the scents of Christmas floated about the air currents in the room, warmed and exploded by the flames in the fireplace on the south wall.
"Mom," Abigail laughed. "I am not plucking that bird this year. Let Dad do it." Her laughter danced alive around her. "Better yet, let Jake do it. It will give him a Christmas memory to take with him."
"Hmm," Kiley considered. "It certainly has merit. It would mean neither of us has to do it. But, have you considered how the feathers will tickle going down? Because you know he'll never get them all."
They were standing in the kitchen giggling, flour up to their elbows when the front door burst open. Jake stood there, struggling not to cry, his father fighting to stay on his feet beside him. Blood blossomed across Edgar's chest, his face pale and wan, the color gone from his skin.
Every precaution she and Edgar had ever taken to shield their children from the way they lived vanished as the image burned itself into her memory.
"Master," she screamed, dropping the lump of dough she'd been kneading and rushing across the room.
Edgar looked up at her, his left hand rising slowly, trembling with the effort. He reached out and touched her cheek and smiled. "I love my golden girl."
His eyes closed, and he melted to the floor, sliding out of Jake's arms even as his son struggled to catch him.
It was days after the funeral before Jake could put the words together to tell her what happened. When the sheriff heard Jake's story, he filled in the gaps.
"Wyatt Jensen's boy was hunting that morning. He fired without being sure of his target. When he realized what he'd done, he ran, scared." The sheriff took off his hat and combed his fingers through his hair, his appearance suddenly that of a very tired man.
"When the boy burst out of the woods, it was right into the path of a truck coming off the mountain. The driver didn't see him till it was too late. He told his pa before he died that he'd shot something in the woods. Begged his pa to go see if it was an animal and make sure it wasn't suffering. Wyatt said he could see the truth in the boy's eyes. He was afraid he'd hit another hunter and couldn't bring himself to say the words. I should have put it together when I saw Edgar. But I wasn't thinking none too clearly."
The sheriff had made arrangements for Jacob's reporting date to be changed. The morning before he left, they opened the gifts that still lay piled beneath the tree. The last box Kiley opened, nestled in black velvet, was a perfect teardrop diamond. A note was stuck in the back of the box.
"To my golden girl, and extraordinary gift for an extraordinary submissive."
Kiley held the note tightly in her closed fist and wept. That night, when the house was quiet, and the kids slept, Kiley attached the diamond teardrop to her collar.
Jacob left soon after New Year's. In her heart, Kiley knew it would be a long time before her son came home. Abigail left a year later, going off to school. Kiley had left the mountain once, for Abigail's wedding. Beyond that, she'd made trips to the market in the village, and returned to her home, and her memories.
Her eyesight was dimming now, her strength waning. She could no longer make the trip down the mountain to the village. Abigail came up once a week to stock the cupboard, and her husband Brian made sure Kiley had wood for the fireplace and kept up the maintenance on the cabin. Jacob had finally come home for the first time the previous year, but only stayed long enough to make sure his mother was alright, and to put flowers on his father's grave.
Kiley had Edgar buried across the creek on a rise at the edge of the woods. He had always loved to sit on the porch and listen to the creatures rustling in the woods. The creek below the cabin sang to him of an evening, and the stars would tell him stories he would share with Kiley.
"You watch the stars golden girl," he'd told her. "One night, one special star will shine brighter than all the rest. That is our star. When our time is past, that star will be our home."
After Edgar's death, Kiley had found the star, and each Christmas she'd called out to him, riding his star across the ebony sky. "It's Christmas Master. Have you brought me something extraordinary?"
Kiley let her gaze travel across the room, pausing to linger here and there before settling on the Christmas tree Abigail and Brian had set up the day before. Silhouetted against a backdrop of Christmas snow, it stood vibrant and alive. Tinsel and lights draped its boughs, and a crystal star glowed from the highest tip of the tree. Darkness came early to the mountain in winter.
Slowly, Kiley climbed to her feet and with slow measured steps, she made her way to the door. Taking a cloak from the peg, she pulled it around her shoulders and walked onto the porch.
The crystalline stars hung against a winter sky faded black. Warmth suffused her worn and tired body as she looked upward, fastening her gaze on Edgar's star.
"It's Christmas Master," she called out. "Have you brought me something extraordinary?"
From behind her came a soft warm chuckle. "Aye my greedy golden girl."
Kiley whirled, laughter bubbling up from a long ago shuttered place. "Master!" she chimed. "I'm not greedy, just extraordinary. Your words, not mine," she laughed.
He held her close and stroked her cheek. "You are that Kiley. You have always been extraordinary and I have brought you a special gift."
She looked down as he took her hands in his and was surprised to find her skin smooth and supple once again. The swelling that marked her age was gone. Reaching up, she touched her hair and pulled a lock forward to study it. Gone were the streaks of grey and the brittle texture. It was smooth and healthy, a soft golden blonde. It was the hair Edgar had spent hours brushing because it gave him joy.
Now he tangled it in his fingers and pulled her forward, claiming her lips in a long slow passionate kiss.
She could feel the heat flare in her belly and moaned into his mouth.
He stepped back and looped her fingers over his arm. "It's time to go home girl. Our star awaits."