A series of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons vignettes for Christmas 2003
by Tiger Jackson
Cotton to Paris: 12 December
The Christmas trees had finally been delivered to Cloudbase. Rhapsody was helping to decorate the tree in the Officers’ Lounge. Symphony had left as soon as her shift ended to meet Captain Blue. And Harmony was on duty in Angel One. Destiny and Melody were the only two Angels present in the Amber Room to receive the tree and decorate it. They had begun by topping the tree with a white teddy bear with little gold wings wearing a gold-and-white flight suit.
“I think it has already become a tradition to have ‘Serenity Angel’ on our Christmas tree, has it not?” asked Destiny.
Melody chuckled and picked up a small, plainly wrapped parcel. “My mother sent this with a letter a few weeks ago. She said to open it when we decorated the Christmas tree.” She took a few seconds to rip off the paper, and looked at the contents. She burst into laughter. “Trust Mom to remember!”
Destiny looked so curious, Melody couldn’t keep her in suspense. She pulled out a clear glass ornament with something grey and lavender inside. Destiny examined it and shook her head in puzzlement. “What is it?”
“It’s a cotton boll from my family’s own plantation. We grow rare, naturally coloured cotton — beautiful russets, soft tans, greens of all shades, purples, blues, reds, and yellows.” She took the ornament from Destiny. “This really brings back memories of home. When my brothers and I were children, we had our own little Christmas tree and we were allowed to decorate it any way we liked. During the cotton harvest in November, all of use would hike out into the field and pluck some fluff in every colour. Then we’d take them back to the plantation house and decorate the tree with tufts of cotton, from top to bottom.”
Melody sighed. “As we got older, we were more involved in decorating the big family tree, and eventually started thinking of the little ‘children’s’ tree as too babyish to bother with. We didn’t troop out into the fields together anymore. Yet, somehow, colourful bits of cotton still turned up in the little tree, and the big one, too tucked into the branches here and there.” She smiled at the fluffy lavender boll and hung the ornament carefully on a high branch. “There’ll be a bit on the tree here in the Amber Room, too, this year. A little bit of home.”
“It is nice to be home in the winter. One year, when I was in the WAAF, Paul Metcalfe and I both had leave, so we went to Paris for Christmas. The stores always decorate their windows fantastically with mechanical dolls! One Bon Marche window had a whole family in the dining room eating le reveillon, the meal after the Christmas midnight mass. You could really smell the food! In the next window were teddy bears with cameras taking pictures of cat and dogs and owls who were dancing on the roof of the Opera, climbing the Eiffel Tower, and singing on the walls of the Bastille. Sometimes, a little bear would point its camera at the people outside the window. There would be a flash, then a photograph would pop out of a machine for a person to take. My favourite was the last window. It was Notre Dame Cathedral with boats floating past on a miniature Seine, a hot-air balloon drifting across the sky, and dolls and toys shopping in a Christmas market and watching tiny marionette shows being performed on the river banks. I love marionettes! So Paul and I went to a real marionette show, Pinocchio. It was for little children, but I have always loved the story. The nuns at the convent where I was educated would tap a girl’s nose when they caught her in a lie. We all thought they could see our noses grow when we lied.” Destiny smiled as Melody rolled her eyes and shook her head at what children will believe.
“When we finished shopping, we rode the Metro for home. A puppeteer set up his stage at one end of the train. He also had his marionettes play ‘Pinocchio’ but it was not for children! The male puppet was, how do you say it, anatomically correct?”
You mean whenever he told a lie, it wasn’t his nose —?”
Melody clapped a hand over her mouth to smother an outburst but her eyes danced.
“It was so funny, everyone on the train was laughing and applauding. So was Paul, but when I turned to him, he was also blushing scarlet. Embarrassed!” Destiny threw up her hands. “Englishmen! They are so passionate in bed but elsewhere they behave as if they have never heard of sex!”
Melody could not contain herself. Together, she and Destiny doubled over laughing hilariously.
Captain Scarlet was helping Rhapsody decorate the Officers’ Lounge when he dropped the spring of greenery he’d been holding. He clapped his hands to his head.
“Paul, what’s wrong?” Rhapsody asked, concerned.
“My ears are burning.”
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