Chapter 1—- Silver
Cobbled walkways and the refreshing sight of mingled red and yellow leaves together with the ever-present shops were the familiar sights that greeted Silver on his way home from the trip the greengrocer.
The warm autumn sun shone brightly down, warming the earth that had already started frosting over. Winter was approaching and soon, the sun would be easily compared to a fluorescent lamp, giving off more light than heat. Silver loved walking down this section of the street, since the buildings were either Victorian or built to be like Victorian shop houses with their slate roofs, aged salmon brick walls, modest decoration and sash windows, displaying whatever there was to be seen inside. It gave him the feeling he really was walking on a Victorian street, with the women in tea gowns and bustles with wide-brimmed felt hats covered with exotic flowers and the bric-a-brac that could be seen from the shops’ sash windows. There was simply a sense of vintage nostalgia in the street, which was lined with maple trees that lit up a flamboyant red when autumn came. Silver continued down the street, marveling at the scenery until he reached a shop-house painted mauve. Pushing open the heavy glass door with his elbow, he was blasted with the scent of freshly-baked pastries. A middle-aged woman with freckles and plaited blond hair greeted Silver, raising from the sienna pine counter to hand him a package wrapped in pastel brown paper.
“It’s for Garfield. Sugar icing cookies,” She winked at him.
“No need to spoil him, Mrs. Alice. I might as well pay for them,” Silver sighed, reaching for his blazer pocket and handing a coupon to Mrs. Alice.
“Well, if you consider that a purchase then let me give you another as a gift, shouldn’t I?” She was about to head for the counter when Silver stopped her.
“No need for that. Thanks for the cookies, Mrs. Alice,” He took the coupon from her and walked out of the shop-house, sighing to himself.
Home was a few meters walk by foot and a few minutes by any means of transport. In this case, there were none, if one did not count bicycles. Having completed his education as far as he could without any financial help, Silver was now on his own, wiping the cutlery at the Italian restaurant and residing at a small house that he inherited from a relative with his grandmother, Chive and three cousins, Garfield, Kan and Temma. Passing by the row of shop-houses, Silver turned to the asphalt walkway of his neighbor’s house, which was lined with yew trees and Mulberry shrubs and then arrived at the gravel driveway of his very own house. He took a swift glance at his surroundings and shuffled to the mailbox, clicking open the device and retrieving whatever was inside. A postcard from the guy next door and a box of baked muffins made by the lady next door as well as a few pads of coupons mailed possibly by the family next door were from the mail.
Jeez, we don’t own an animal with rabies, so why do they have to send everything by mail? I think they put it there on purpose. Wait, how did the muffins fit? Damn it, they’ve fixed the mailbox to be able to get this stuff in. More like tampered with, though.
Silver thought as he opened the ginger oak door, only to be pounced on by a wrestling blob of brown and platinum blonde followed by a red blob clinging onto his pants. Freak, there they go again… And there’s Garfield trying to get his cookies. Wait, did Temma knock out the lights? Where’s granny Chive? Do they have to fight every time I head out?
He shook the two blobs off him and flicked the light switch on. Kan, the brown blob was looking at his paper bag with a longing expression while Temma, the platinum blob was glaring at Kan, her pigtails all spiked up. Garfield on the other hand, was prodding Silver’s package with a finger and attempting to latch Silver’s fingers off the package.
“Do you have to fight every time I go out for the grocery? I think I’ll ask the family next door to mind either Kan or Temma. Garfield is fine. No more cookies for you three if this continues. I might send Temma though, Garfield can take care of Kan way better than Ms. Hothead here.” Silver sent Kan a sadistic smirk when he mentioned Garfield. He just loved frightening Kan out of his wits.
“No, I prefer being cooped up with those super-serious geeks next door!” Kan screamed, pointing an accusing finger at the smirking Silver.
“Don’t insult Sebastian that way! He got higher than you did in the last semester, Kan! Well… I don’t mind, since Mrs. Michelle is nice and there’s Sebastian and Ethan next door…” Temma looked at Silver with puppy dog eyes only to get a glance back that said “no way”. Then she resumed to skulking at the corner of the living room, fiddling with some card she had found in the old drawers. Silver sighed at the sight of his messed up family and abruptly remembered something. He went over to where the power board was and slotted in the power card. Fluorescent lamps lit up the wide expanse of the living room. Carefully furnished with tapestries here and there, a few ornaments on the lacquered tables was all that decorated the large room that had a beautiful sash window with languid lavender muslin curtains that were tied to the sides of the window, allowing the warm late-autumn sun’s rays to spill in, over the small light brown oak coffee table and its chairs, a small vase with and the wooden floor. Garfield had a habit of hoarding items in the old cabinets, drawers and cardboards around the house, especially in his room, the living room and some other places he frequented. Kan, on the other hand had the habit of nosing out Garfield’s hoards and then eating them, sometimes right in front of Garfield. Up to date, Garfield has strictly prohibited Kan from entering his room—where he stores his hoards. What’s more, the only sweets Kan gets from Garfield are gobstoppers, which are Garfield’s number one dislike. Once, Silver discovered a container chock full of gumdrops, Turkish delights, gummies, Quince cheese, humbugs, jellybeans and even more soda-flavored pucchos in one of the cabinets in Garfield’s room when helping him to clean it. Temma had an obsession with Pez dispensers and a number of other items. Whenever someone gave them a pez dispenser, Garfield would get the some of the sweets while Temmy would hoard the dispenser. Kan liked to hoard all sorts of things and most certainly, finishing Garfield’s unattended hoards. It was a good thing that they liked such cheap items and it was also a blessing that their relatives bought candy enough to last a year for the trio for their birthdays and Christmas. That way, Silver had saved some money on sweets. And a lot more on cookies, thanks to the wads of coupons from the neighbors, Mrs. Alice and Garfield’s cuteness. Once he received a tamagotchi for his birthday and cried for a few hours after his pet died. It was still embarrassing for Silver but he fondly remembered passing on his tamagotchi to Garfield, who dismembered then fixed it back and gave it to Ethan for his birthday.
After the tamgotchi episode, Silver rarely had time for games like that and mostly dismembered any he received with the exception for pedometers. He cast a sideways glance at Garfield, who was carefully placing his cookies into a large glass jar similar to those used to contain captured bugs or fish. Then he forcefully yet carefully clamped the lid shut with the metal latch. Kan was lurking in the corner, rummaging through Garfield’s hoards, hoping to find something to eat. All he found was a jar of pickles and a written note attached to it. Kan glared at Garfield, who was wolfing down a tiny slice of chiffon cake decorated with royal icing and currant filling. Next thing Kan did was to tear some cake from Garfield’s slice. Silver smiled at the amiable confection-loving duo and retrieved a credit-sized card from his pocket before heading for his room.
Silver’s room was a simple yet cozy room that was painted diamond. His bed was decorated with a soothing light baby blue comforter, light apricot sheets and Carolina blue pillows. A small lamp designed to be similar to the incandescent bulb stood by the queen-sized bed. The room had no balcony but there was a small marble counter by the sash window that several ornaments were placed on. By the extreme right of the room was a toilet cubicle, inside it was another cubicle separated by tinted glass doors, a toilet and other facilities that could be spotted in a modern toilet. In the cubicle was a heater that was connected to the solar panels on the rooftop. Silver was about to lie on his bed to relish the comfort and inner peace it gave him, staring at the diamond-colored walls that was quickly tainted by the light coming from the large window that had his study table facing it when he suddenly remembered that there was no shifts to do at the restaurant and he was free to spend the day as he liked with his family. He warily consulted his clock. It read 11 o’clock. With a sudden outburst that was foreign to the usual calm and brisk Silver, he scampered down the spiral staircase, running his fingers over the lacquered wood railings before heading for the living room, where Granny Chive and the trio sat. He made his way to the sofa and flipped through the wad of coupons and turned to his puzzled relatives with his eyes gleaming, which was rarely seen from the redhead who preferred everything to be calm and cool. It was rare to see him get so excited. Silver held the wad of paper out for all to see, pointing excitedly at a certain advertisement on a page. It was a ninety percent offer on items in the entire store! Granny Chive’s eyebrow hit the celling before she too, hit the celling. The trio was clambering on top of one another and Garfield was climbing up Silver’s legs, clinging dangerously to Silver’s jeans. Every fortnight, the neighborhood’s community club would mail out an edition of a newsletter and with it came freebies that varied by month together with the wad of coupons. Every household received it. The town was the right mix of modern living and the nostalgic past, being influenced majorly by the Victorian era and the walkways in European cities. It was a stark contrast to the urban condominiums that stood everywhere in some cities, so much that the skyline was not jagged, it was one straight line with some points protruding into the sky. That was what Silver had observed in one of his cousin’s hometown. From the cousin’s balcony, one could see poppy seeds of humans wearing clothes of different shades and hues, colored aniseed balls that were actually cars, in black or silver, rarely some other color. Silver had grown up in the neighborhood, knowing every household that lived in the neighborhood. It had hardly changed at all, though he remembered going to school, which was tucked in the other part of town.
Just then, the doorbell rang.