Tag Archive: winter

What do you remember?

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The night was sharp. I have no better way to describe it. It looked like it had been cutaway from the daylight by a painter’s knife with short sure motions. 

I could focus on little else.

Driven to distraction it wasn’t till my fingers started to burn from the icy wind that I looked away from the heavenly Bob Ross. Summer sunsets are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but there is some kind of eery otherworldliness in crisp winter night skies. 

Once inside I turned off the TV and put a kettle on to boil, the image had me in the mood for strong tea and dark silence. So I watched the red-orange flames lick out alive waiting for the hiss of steam.

I held the mug with both hands soaking up the minty warmth, but the tension in my shoulders refussed to drain away. Something in the night nagging at the periphery of my attention. The house was quite, the door was locked, I closed my eyes willing the edges of my frayed nerves to lie flat…

I startle at the sound of a man clearing his throat sloshing piping hot tea onto my right hand.

“Ma’am can you tell me what happened,” he asks a look somewhere between pity and suspicion in his eyes.

“Happened? What happened?”

He checks a notepad while I look around the small uncomfortable room. It has dingy short pile carpet, a table with coffee cup rings, and hard molded plastic chairs. The man makes direct eye contact, only suspicion this time, “What do you remember?”

“It was sharp,” his eyebrows shoot towards the ceiling, “the night was sharp.” I elaborate, “the sky had this look like it was painted, you know what I mean? Too many straight edges…sharp-like.”

“That’s what you remember?” 

He’s incredulous.

“What about the fire? Do you not remember the fire?” The man is very nearly yelling at me.

I consider what he has said, thinking back, trying to remember. Like a reflex I take a sip of tea, “I made tea.” I offer holding up the mug.

He stands and walks to the door. Quick quiet words are exchanged with someone I cannot see. “I just handed you that tea ma’am,” he says while walking back to the table, “you don’t remember anything.” This time it’s a statement not a question.

“The night was sharp and otherworldly.”

He looks at me so hard he looks through me. The pity is back in his eyes.


The Storm

Haley sat in the dark listening to the howling of the wind just beyond the glass. Mesmerized, she follows the flick and dance of the flame along the wick of a lone candle in the nearly empty room.

A sharp crack followed by crystalline crunching sounds suggested that yet another tree branch had fallen from the heavens.

She was nothing more than a darkened silhouette outside the circle of soft golden illumination, frozen in place, deaf to the shattered silence. Haley leaned in, over her crossed ankles, to stare into the bright yellow-red center of light. This close to the candle you could see it; the pain and worry in her eyes, the tension taunt across her hunched shoulders, and even the tiny tremors that rattled her frame.

Finally, she looked away, from the twisted spark, towards the door and the soft ticklish sound of heavy snowfall. Haley’s arms wrapped tight around herself, chafing what little warmth she had into them, as the loneliness and fear set in.

For as the candle light shrank and the dark deepened all she could do was wonder … and wait.

Most people could hear the roar of mixed conversations, the sudden bouts if laughter, perhaps even the tiny tinkle of the silver bells hung in the tree, which would swing on the limbs when someone passed nearby, but to him there was only the wind. Making polite small talk as he made “the rounds” it was the howling wind that he kept time to not the festive music. Even in the house it was like a physical presence; pressing against the windows, tearing at the strings of lights, throwing a chill over everything, and ripping the door from icy fingers. It was in such a moment of wintry bluster that he dropped all pretense as the thing within him, that lay mostly dormant, reared it’s head. Those around wouldn’t have noticed that he nodded or muttered ascent less often, that he now looked past the speaker rather than at her, but he had. As their eyes locked every muscle tightened, his hair stood on end, and he ever so slightly inclined his head.

The room cooled noticeable as icy daggers were shot across the crowded floor. The innocents between them fidgeted caught in a tension they could not place as both still hid behind their normality, at the surface. Below was another story altogether. In truth each was hunting for weakness with boiling blood waiting for a moment to let lose the beast within.

It was nothing specific, no obvious trait of inhumanity, just some subtle mark of predator in the stance, in the calculated movements, in the eyes. There could be no way of knowing what the sickness crawling within the other would be, but in the moment when monster recognizes monster all else falls a way. He could see the coldness of someone who did not care, the aloofness of one who is permanently detached from the human condition, he saw what he tried so desperately to keep hidden.

In the mirror of the strangers eyes he saw himself.

The need to stamp out that which resonated so deeply within him warred with the anger that his secret might be just as visible to others. Something akin to a smile formed on the stranger’s face, not out of happiness but out of the fact that they shared…anything, even if it was just a secret between monsters, as cold and alien as the winter wind.

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