Friday 11 May 2018

Jessamine Adler's Bible

Jessamine Adler's Bible. Object post 11

Sofia Silver was born in 1912, the elder daughter of Jeremiah Silver and his wife, Minnie. Minnie was young and inexperienced and Jeremiah was in the army, so Sofia’s upbringing was a rather hit or miss affair. Jeremiah’s grandparents had brought him up, knowing there was something odd about him, but they did their best. When Sofia was nine, her sister Stella was born as a result of one of Jeremiah’s rare periods at home. Her great-grandmother, Lizzie, gave Sofia a little bible on the occasion of her sister’s birth. It was limp-covered and black, with fine pages edged with gold. Sofia wasn’t impressed, but she read a few verses a day, as exhorted by her great-grandmother. 

Sofia, like her father, and her sister, grew up decidedly different. Her mother died when she was twelve, so she and Stella were cared for by Lizzie and an aunt. She was a gawky teenager, and her aunt, with precious little support from the girls’ mostly-absent father, had to put up with rumours that she wasn’t feeding her nieces “right”. They were so skinny and looked younger than they should. Lizzie died when Sofia was sixteen, and the girl took some solace in the bible, which she still read a little every day. She wrote her family names in it, in an effort to feel more normal, but when she asked Jeremiah for his father’s name he just shrugged. It was left for Sofia to try to find out what she could from half-heard comments.
As a girl, Sofia expected to marry and have children, but it never happened. Men weren’t attracted to her and she found she was more interested in women. This didn’t go down too well with her aunt, who really had enough to worry about. Sofia was made to talk to a doctor and a priest. Luckily for her, the priest was a kindly man, who recommended her to John 14:2 and then to Ruth 1:16.
In 1939, as WW2 started, Jeremiah returned to the army and vanished from his daughters’ lives for good. Eight years later, Sofia unexpectedly fell in love with a young woman named Jessamine Adler. Saying nothing, she gave her bible to Jessamine as a gift, but Jess insisted on coming to visit for bible study. Eventually, despite Sofia’s reservations about the age gap, they moved in together. Her sister Stella was mortified and the resulting estrangement between the sisters was never really mended, although Sofia did get to see a little of her niece Sherry and to magnanimously turn the other cheek when Stella married a much younger man. 
Jessamine was a happy and loving person, and under her influence Sofia’s dour personality softened. It was due to Jess that Sofia took an active part in caring for Sherry, whose stepfather found her inconvenient.
Through it all, Sofia and Jess kept up on reading Jess’ bible, though by now it was a game rather than active study. They both enjoyed closing their eyes and picking a verse at random, and then stretching their imaginations to make it apply to them. 
In 1981, Sherry met a young man named Jules Fraeman. She had his daughter, Sam, but refused to see him again. Jules came to Sofia and Jess and begged them to help, but there was nothing they could do. Sofia was saddened to see what she thought of as Jeremiah’s curse extending to a new generation. She and Jess looked after Sam some of the time, and introduced her to the bible game. Sam, as a toddler, couldn’t manage to say Sofia’s name, so she called her Sofa. Sofia and Jess happily adopted the name.
To Sofa’s dismay, Sam grew up disassociated and unhappy just as she had been prior to meeting Jess.
Part of Jeremiah’s curse was slow ageing, which meant that eventually Jess and Sofa looked like mother and daughter. Jessamine was fifteen years Sofa’s junior, but she aged normally and died in her early nineties. Sofa, by then well over her century but still looking sixty, was utterly bereft. Her faith and a certain orneriness kept her from killing herself as she wanted. Jess had insisted she must keep the bible as a reminder. Sofa left the house she’d shared with Jess and booked herself into a nursing home in a different state. Here she went on a silent strike, hoping to, as she put it, die of inertia. When Sam, now happy with a partner and expecting a baby, sent her young friends Tab and Josefa to the nursing home to give a message to Sofa, Sofa wasn’t pleased to see them, but eventually she agreed to leave her self-imposed confinement and visit Sam and her lover. In leaving the nursing home the only thing she took with her was Jess’ bible in which she’d put some private photographs.

Sofia “Sofa” Silver appears in Sam and the Sylvan and Sunshower and is mentioned in Christmas Eve.


Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)
The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of May 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

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