Steam

She loved the cold, but she hated winter. Her scarf muffled her breaths. The air was musty around her nose.

Her fingernails were slightly blue around the iced coffee she held. She shivered as she took a sip. She held her breath until her face was safely nestled within her scarf.

She checked her watch again. The bus was late, as usual. She curled her toes in her boots, but they did not warm.

“Cecilia, right? From Latin class?”

She glanced beside her.

“It’s Charles. We met a few times.”

She nodded and smiled but he probably did not see it. “I remember.”

He scratched his head. “It’s December,” he gestured towards her coffee.

She shrugged. “I like it iced.”

“Pardon?”

“I like the cold.”

“Ah. Well I suppose you do look quite cozy.”

She nodded. “I am.”

“Sorry?”

“I’m quite cozy.”

“Right, right.” His fingers tightened around his tumbler and she glanced away hurriedly with a shiver she could not restrain. He frowned. “You sure you’re not too cold?”

“Absolutely.”

But already he was unscrewing the top of his mug. He held it in front of her face before she could shy away. “Here, have some. It’ll warm you right up.”

She shook her head, eyes wide as she took a step back. “No, no, I don’t want-“

The steam rose in grotesque shapes that darkened his shoulders, hollow eyes grinning as tendrils wrapped around his throat and lingered near his heart. Some of them reached out towards her, and she could smell the acrid stench of corruption.

Her coffee slipped from her hands as she stumbled backwards. It splashed across the ground, and Charles cursed as it leapt up the hem of his jeans. He frowned as he glanced up at her.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled as the darkness dissipated. She hunched her shoulders and edged away.

“It’s fine,” he ran a hand through his hair and fell silent, taking a few steps away.

She clutched the strap of her bag with white knuckles. She kept her face buried safely within her scarf, shivers wracking her frame.

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Weary, Winter

Silence descents in flakes of white. Covering, smothering. It’s heavy. Tired. It has been falling for far too long, and now it looks for the gentle reprieve of Spring. For the slow warmth that creeps with buds exploding in a floral fireworks.

Weary, it lands with a dissipating sigh. It does not linger as it once did. It does not grow, all encompassing as it used to. Instead it fades into grey with wishes of green.

It’s ready to sleep. Ready for the dreams of warmth, of blossoms and lush grass. Weary, winter yawns out the last of its cold, slowly settling down, closing its eyes, not to wake till the last shivers of fall nudge it gently awake.

—-

This idea actually came from Canada’s Olympic slogan ‘We Are Winter’. When hashtagged, it looks almost like Wearywinter, something that one of my friends pointed out. Thus spawned this post.

Winter Sniffles

Saliva scratched its way down her throat as she swallowed. She sighed through her mouth, though a small amount of air managed to whistle its way through her nose.

She reached for another tissue as a sneeze lingered, prodding slightly. Testing. She wrinkled her nose and glanced at the bright light in her room. Excited, the sneeze bounced around until it was time for it to explode outward into the etiolated tissue. It fairly shredded and she wiped her nose before dumping it into the garbage.

Groaning, she leaned back against her multitude of pillows placed strategically on her bed. She pulled the covers up and turned the page of her book. She sniffled yet again, though whether from the book or her illness, it was uncertain.

A cough clawed its way free, feeling vengeful for the tight hold she had kept over her lungs. It brought with it its companions, each as eager as the next, their freedom celebrated with sharp hacks. Her stomach muscles clenched with effort, and she doubled over until it was over. Only then did she lean back and allow her head to loll sideways, book now held uselessly between limp fingers.

Then the door opened, and something delicious made itself known. She tried to smile, but all she could do was glance over. Her mother set a bowl down on the small table, and gently felt her forehead. With a smile she promised some tea, and left her to eat.

She eased the spoon out of the bowl, relishing the steam’s warm encouragement. She knew the taste more than well enough to make up for her lack of smell. And sure enough, the moment it touched her tongue, she found herself smiling.

It did not last long, the soup. Soon all that was left was a yellowish residue that clung desperately to the bowl’s edges. And when her mom returned with tea, she pulled her lips upwards as her eyes softened. The warmth from her mother’s hands passed through the mug to hers.

The Scent of Ice

Desolate, the land fatigued under the wind’s constant barrage. Trees scattered themselves distantly, branches barren. Spindly, they leaned away from the monstrous howling, not strong enough to survive should the storm turn its fury upon them.

White suffocated the ground. Occasionally a deadened leaf could be seen collapsed out from underneath in eternal sleep. But eventually it, too, would be buried and forgotten by even the branch from which it fell.

Silence.

Flakes of white fall, noiseless in their descent, stifling everything around them. Brilliant, soft, they breathe in life, and exhale a frozen land. Uncaring, they land as the breezes will. They fly on the whim of the wind, tossed, turned, until finally they are placed in a manner that is almost an apology for their rough voyage.

Then they rest, feeding from the land around them. There they grow, larger, stronger, covering stretches of once bountiful land. The scent of ice permeates.

Even the sun, with all its flame, is not strong enough to chase them away. They reflect each glare with defiance that grows stronger in unity. With brilliance they chase away the sun, and yet the next day it returns again, a perpetual battle.

And then finally one day they begin to quiver. The sun has gained strength, and they droop slightly, weary now. They shiver at the growing heat, shrinking as they curl away from it. Their strength drips from them, angels’ tears.

Then something green spears through them triumphantly, and they sigh away slowly.

A bird’s call sings through the still air.

Hope, Perhaps

She was slow at first to wake. Sleep was reluctant to release her, draining sluggishly from her veins. Her eyelids forced the last vestiges out as they fluttered, opening lethargically. It took a few tries, but eventually awareness took its place.

She breathed lightly, feeling a slight sting in her nose at the dry air. She felt it brush against her cheek with an icy hand, and curled up a little bit tighter under the blankets, savouring the warm haven they created. Such a contrast to the winter that breathed through the small opening in her window.

There was something different about the air today, though. And as she glanced at the walls, they seemed to glow. It felt crisp and fresh. Clean. Something stirred, hope perhaps, and her eyes opened wider, suddenly awake.

Her blinds were closed, forcing the light to peek through in thin lines. But it was bright nonetheless. Brighter than usual. She checked the clock, but it was early yet. The sun was as tired as she was, still barely crawling past the horizon, just tickling the ends of the grass in the yard.

Her hand lasted mere moments out from under the blanket. It was cold. And yet the light coming from the window above her called. For a moment she curled as tightly as possible, then stretched, shivering as her feet delved into the realms of her blanket that were unblessed by the heat.

Then with a breath of courage, she threw back the covers and sat up, resting momentarily as her feet touched the floor. She wrapped the covers around her shoulders for momentary warmth, a brief moment of respite during her arduous journey.

She stood quickly and crossed her room, reaching for the warm robe that promised comfort. She slipped it on and tied it in relief. Slippers soon cushioned her feet against the cold, and she made her way to the window, heart thumping audibly in her chest.

She pulled up the blinds, wincing as white light stormed her eyes. When they adjusted, she glanced out, and smiled.

White covered everything. It lay in enormous piles, some thinly precarious. The sun shone pink and gold triumphant. Ethereal it made the snow glitter, so daintily balanced each snowflake one upon the other.

The air, cold, sharp, threw itself at her nose, and she grinned at the invitation.

—-

Still haven’t had our first snow of the year. But it will come soon, I’m sure.

When you finally spring to life

It’s the breeze that first tells you that today you won’t freeze. It caresses soft whispers into your ear. No longer does it bite your chin when you walk away, nor crawl under your clothes to thief away your warmth.

Suddenly your steps are lighter, quicker. The ends of your lips curl infinitesimally upwards. Deep within your eyes, hope flares to life.

Already the memories of past discomfort are fading. Of frozen toes and red-tipped noses. Of chunks of frozen hair lost with a careless gesture. Of hands permanently stuck in coat pockets, and shoulders hunched forward, defensively, resignedly.

Already you envision your winter coat hung up in the closet. Your thick socks rolled up at the back of the drawer. Your woolen sweaters guarded by mothballs.

You look up as the sound of a small bird’s chirp prods your soul. The tree’s branches are still bare, but that will change soon. Though the bird blends in well, your eager eye is quick to spot it. You reluctantly move on, aware that, should you linger too long, your boss will not be pleased. Alas, not everyone is cheered by the lively hints of spring.

You stare wistfully at the deceptive, blue sky.

A particularly strong gust of wind sneaks down the back of your coat. You shiver.

Soon the wind croons.

Soon. Not quite yet, but soon.

Staying warm, Korean style

Staying warm in the winter

Staying warm in the winter

Yes, it is a hood and a scarf. Yes, there are mittens at the ends. Yes, it is as soft as it looks. Softer, actually.

In – 17C weather, it is my best friend.