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Fiction Inspirational Sad

                                SNOW DREAMS

               January. The year one week old. Devilish winter day, spindrift circling madly about the courtyard, last season's perennial stems bent under a weight of snow. Fiona sitting in her chair staring out at the scene, stockinged legs outstretched on a woodpile stacked under the lounge window. Next to her, bookshelves randomly stuffed with a collection of twice read paperbacks and jacketless hardbacks, all bought cheaply, most stories lost to her fading memory.

               Below the window and next to the wood stack a small circular table bought for £20 at a garage sale ten years ago, and her collection of medicines arranged by time and date in their plastic trays. A print of a stone bridge and cloud-capped mountains hangs from a pin pressed into one of the bookcase shelves. She has no memory of where it's from or how it got there. Heavy drips of wet rain land in the empty grate of the fireplace which hasn't been lit for a year. The drops land rhythmically. She looks at the wet stone and sees the pool of black water spill on to the carpet but it doesn't matter to her.

               Dawn had come, eventually. The morning sun seeped around the edges of the curtains and dusty shafts of light danced through the cold room, her warm breath adding smoky clouds to each beam. Fiona wrapped her shawl tighter around her shoulders and put her hands under the fake fur hat on her lap. She watched the snow fall, the white world took what she thought she knew so intimately and changed it into something that teased and then confused her, although she didn't know why. And so she just watched it fall onto the garden with its thickening silence, and let it smother everything, and didn't let it worry her.

               Going to the desk by the lounge door, she took out a photograph album, handling it carefully because it was precious. She sat back down and looked at the pictures, a small stab of memory mocked her, annoying because it teetered on the edge of her mind, close but just out of reach.     Someone walked with her under the old tree, the warmth of his arms, tender breath against her cheek. Someone who told her she was beautiful, someone who had written her letters and held her hand.

               She paused at her favourite photographs. The one where he stood under a tree with the wind blowing his hair over his eyes and where he held his arms open to her. She thought she remembered stumbling through the snow towards him, where he laughed at her cold, red nose, where the snowflakes fell and faded into nothing as they landed on their warm skin.

                She looked up from the book and saw him, out in the snow, by the brittle branches of the leafless tree. And she called his name and waved at him through the icy window. She heard him laugh as he fell over and just lay there, soaked and covered in snow. And then he gathered himself on to his knees, flicked the wetness from his hair and face, and silently mouthed the words she loved to hear.

               She put the photo album on to the small table and let her head drop back into the pillow on her chair. Already the memories had slipped away, although enough of them remained to allow her dreams to make something from them, pictures that painted themselves from stolen colours. It frightened her, the pain of something undefined, the meaningless jumble of thoughts happy and sad. But the sleep covered her sorrow as the snow had laid fresh the world outside.

                More captured moments of strange people and meaningless words, glimmers of things that had arranged themselves into a sort of logic. Then she woke to see the white garden and she knew what she must do.

               Fiona pushed herself up from her chair and, with trembling hands took her walking stick from its place by the table. She looked out into the distance where the snow fell thickly, where the tree stood alone, its skeleton branches weighed down until they almost touched the ground. For the first time since she could remember she felt an awareness of time and of its capacity to snatch away what was true and real. The pictures in her mind were tinged and shaded with hope, each coloured with an intensity of feeling that made her heart ache. Clustered little things that had gone before.

               She made it to the door, taking care to keep from making a noise that would betray her. She listened for sounds of her daughter upstairs, but everything was quiet.

               The mirror in the hallway seemed misted, she put her fingers on to the glass and ran them downwards but it didn't clear, the squeak from her skin made her glance up the stairs. Panic caused her to step backwards as she wiped the glass desperate to see her reflection, but the face that stared back at her was old, unrecognisable. It was time to leave.

                She smiled as she turned the door handle that would let her out into the treasure trove of memories that waited for her, and took comfort in the way her mind had allowed her to remember.

               Fiona took one last look behind her, and then gathered herself and took a brave step into the garden. The slope up to the tree looked much steeper than she remembered and the pale, washed-out, early sun made shadows of the spindly branches.

               There wasn't a moment to waste, she didn't want to go back into the house even though the cold air made her shiver. The fresh world outside felt unsullied and pure and she didn't want to exchange it for the familiar sights and smells of the house again, at least not for now.

               Fiona took one last glance behind her, thin drifts of snow had already filtered through the gap left by the half-shut door. She pulled her hat down tightly over her ears and prepared herself.

               There was no sign of her husband, she wondered why he had been hiding from her but she knew where he'd be. The old tree called to her as she looked out across the snow covered garden and she laughed as she placed her foot on the icy path.

1,062 words

January 19, 2021 18:35

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1 comment

Zelda C. Thorne
14:47 Feb 07, 2021

Aw, I liked this. It was moving, sweet and sad. Very well written.

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