I stepped out into the frigid frost, the cold wind snapping at my face. It blew hard, that day, not stopping or wavering as I trudged through miles of ice and snow. Every time I lost my footing, I slipped into the white debris, covered in trembling whispers.

The snow attached itself to my black, woolen mittens, chilling my hands and fingers 'til they turned blue. I wrapped my long, black scarf around my face, trying to keep in every ounce of warmth possible. The icy winds grabbed at my coat, trying to seep its way in. I fastened the buttons, not wanting the cold to take over.

I walk through the large forest, looking at the beauty that surrounded me. Bright green pines, with their needles hidden under pounds of snow. Evergreens draped in frost, concealing the dull spikes with a gleaming reflection of light. I breathe into my hands, trying to warm them.

I've lost feeling in my hands by now, being out when the stars have already risen. But, I have a mission, and I cannot fail. I march on through the winter storm, my black boots becoming heavier with every burdening step. My wool hat slips off every now and then, forcing me to run through piles of the snow pack to find it. After brushing the white flakes off, I continue on my journey.

After many long and tiring hours, I find the center of the forest. A large clearing, surrounded by trees, with a perfect view of the full moon. I looked up into the starry night sky, seeing how plentiful the stars were in number.

I remember trying to count every star when I was young. I would go out to this very spot in the forest with my father, eating and laughing during the summer. In the winter nights, we would cuddle together by a small bonfire and read, while I looked up into the clear sky. The colorful lights dance above me in every memory, changing color and shifting direction.

I snap myself out of the gaze, remembering the task at hand. I pull out the axe from its sheath, which was placed on my back. I walk over to a sleek fir tree, tracing my hand down its stump. On it was written many names and dates from years past, all the people come and gone in just a swift, fleeting night. I find the names of two familiar people: Erik and Astrid Connor, from dates ranging in 1988 to 2003.

A small tear escapes my face when I reach these names. I etch my name into the tree one last time, before I cut it down. I write: "Astrid Connor, age 16, 2004" on the stump. Whispers of the cold ring in my ears as I write, filling me with both warmth and cold. I smile at my work, and raise my axe over my head.

Chop! Chop! The tree comes raining down after many hits, its slender body falling. I chop the tree into little pieces of firewood, and pull the stacks together with rope. I make a small sled with another large piece of wood, and place the firewood stacks on the sled. I smile at my handiwork, patting my mittens together and wiping my brow. One last piece of the tree remains, and that is the stump.

The tree stump is now small, and it seems less full of life. It has many rings, and I can easily tell how aged it truly is. I bring out a shovel and tear the trunk up, grunting with every effort to keep it pristine. It still has the names and dates on it, with many stories and memories kept within its bark. I hear more whispers, and lay the stump carefully on the sled.

After tying rope around a notch in the sled, I pull and walk on. The load is heavier, and I am more tired. The sun is now rising beyond the horizon, orange and red blazing and taking away the familiar sights of the night sky. I smile while facing the sun, keeping my hands over my eyes. The wind giggles around me, and is calmer now.

No longer stuck in the dreary sleet, I march home. The snow is packed, and it is easier to walk on, creating some sort of road for me. I look around at the green trees surrounding me, celebrating the beginning of a new day by showing off the glowing green of their needles.

After a few more miles, I reach a stone path. Walking along the cracking rocks, I see more familiar things in them. I remember placing each stone with my father and mother, so that we would always find our way if we got lost. Each stone had its own story, and they told me as I walked, whispering as if they were really alive.

Finally, a small house appears in the near distance. It is made of red brick, with a dark log roof and door. The chimney is smoking, and children play outside of it. I grin, happy to see each and every one of them. Bringing the wood, the stump, and myself back down from the frozen hill was no easy task, but I accomplished it nonetheless.

I put some of the firewood into the burner, warming the house and embracing warmth once again. The colors seem brighter, and lanterns are strung up. I place the stump on the far end of the house, where I would always see it when I woke up. I hear the whispers of the frost beckoning again, and I turn.

A light figure of a man appears on the stump, something about him eternally familiar. I walk up to the figure, smiling. He holds me in a tight embrace, letting go only when the clouds rolled in. He wiped a tear from my face, and turned back towards the log. He placed his glowing hand over our names, and disappeared.

A grave is laid behind the stump, with the name of my father on it. The tombstone read: "Erik Connor, father, son, and husband. 1965-2003". Another tear escapes from me, but I wipe it away. I am happy now, knowing that my father is resting peacefully. I go back to the party, dancing and singing with the other children.

"Until next winter, dearest Father," I say, speaking for the first time in a year. I smile, knowing I'll see him again in the lights, and in the face of the ever so familiar moon.

December 06, 2023 04:28

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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