Everything In Heaven Is Already Here on Earth

Submitted into Contest #232 in response to: Write a story about someone looking for a sign in a dark sky.... view prompt

5 comments

Fiction Indigenous Fantasy

Nora walked home through the snow with the ingredients she had

bought to make her daughter a thick brown stew, as she always did around this time of year. She passed the frozen statue of a famous explorer in the town square, up to its shins in snow, with his rusting copper features illuminated by the glare of lighting from the stores. Her daughter, Astrid had been born on the official start of winter, the 27th November, although the wintery darkness was always present for more than two weeks in the lead up to the date. Tonight, as she did every year, Nora would make her the special meal of perfectly tender stewed beef and cabbage for her annual birthday dinner. 

Returning home, Nora unpacked the bag of ingredients by the hearth. She set them out carefully like a little family in a semicircle and added another log to the embers in the grate to thaw them out. When the fire burned strong and good, she went to peel potatoes. At the sink, blue light flashed intermittently on the silver edge of her knife as she skilfully removed the skins, coiling them like flat snakes and adding them to a pile of scraps. The dull, blue midday sky shone through the kitchen window mixing the glassy, deep blue light with the red emanating from the hearth fire. It cast a purple hue over her cooking. Outside the snowy expanse looked somewhat like a moon far from earth and the log pile like a strange being. She noted to herself that it was always on the evening of just such a day that Asrid came by to visit. Her daughter would make her way over the mountain and meet in the same spot as they did every year. Nora switched the radio on to the weather forecast and heard the confirmation she needed. Tonight would be the first auras of the season. 

She took comfort in the different steps she knew so well to make her daughter’s special meal. Tenderising the meat with a small mallet, dicing it and salting it, then adding the prepared pieces to the old black pot above the fire. The little family of ingredients had now all been safely placed within. She left to let time do its work on the dish and took the stairs to continue with the birthday ritual. She hadn’t bothered with decorations this year as she had in past years but the house still had a festive air to it, filled as it was with the smell of cooking. She padded in moccasins across the patterned rug to her daughter’s room to check its silent contents. 

Inside the sky’s blue horizon lay flat across the window, dimly lighting her made bed with its patchwork quilt that Nora had painstakingly hand stitched, before she was even pregnant with her much desired child. Her only, her Astrid. She switched on a lamp by the bed, suddenly bringing to life the blanket’s brightly coloured diamonds of patterned material with woodland animals playing across it. Every stitch a wish and a commitment to care for her before she had even been born. She walked gently to the bed and took the cover off wrapping herself in it. In her own room, as was customary, she went to the sideboard and picked up the small lacquered pot with a lock of Astrid’s hair inside it. She dropped it into her housecoat pocket to remember her birth day in her own way. The day she had become a mother. She lay on her bed, warm in the patchwork. Here she’d stay and rest a few hours until the stew would be cooked and Astrid had arrived. It was hard to stay calm with the excitement she felt within. It had been a full year since Astrid had made her way through the night to visit her mother. 

When Nora awoke, it was dark. All of the day’s blue had drained away into the navy of night. She rushed downstairs clutching the old cotton blanket around her frail frame. She first pulled on her gloves, then boots and coat over the blanket for another layer against the cold. The hearth had burned down again but she didn’t add another log. She carefully ladled hot stew into a flask. Carrying it to the door it warmed her gloves and hands within. As she left her home, a blast of cold hit the soft skin of her face waking her fully to the night that stretched out beyond her door. She walked out across the vista she’d viewed earlier from her kitchen window and trudged past the strange log pile, onwards, passing through the dwindling pines bent heavy with snow like other-worldly monsters. The white expanse was fresh and still, like a made bed around the trees’ drooped and sleeping heads. She headed for the foot of the mountain beyond with her breath expiring into the minus degree air. 

As she approached the meeting place, she checked her watch. There was no agreed time but it was usually within the window of late evening hours that they would meet here. She felt that Astrid would be coming slowly nearer every second, as she made her way over the summit. Nora stood shivering with excitement as the first flickers of green light arose from behind the peak. It was time, so she removed her glove and pulled the small lacquered pot from 

her pocket, as was customary. Her fingers shook with cold and anticipation as she removed the lid. In the sky, swirling rivers of emerald and blue danced their way over the body of the mountain. The luminous colours moved gently overhead as she plucked the lock of Astrid’s baby hair from its resting place. She let fly a few strands onto the air and watched them dance and twirl, interrupted only by a shock of laughter. She was here. 

The ancient aura with its band of lost children had come to dance above the trees and play. She watched as they leap-frogged over the mountain and back again. Astrid was here too, laughing in the wind with the others. As she followed the strands of gold blowing up on the wind, Nora saw her girl in the light, twisting and floating like an iridescent angel in the gloaming. As the lights moved, the laughter drew nearer. She set down the flask and opened the lid. The billowing steam from the special meal she always cooked her daughter on her birthdays’ flew up and disappeared into the cold air, as if being consumed by a spirit. 

1106 words

January 12, 2024 11:53

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5 comments

Alexis Araneta
05:25 Jan 16, 2024

The way you use imagery is spectacular. Welcome to Reedsy !

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Pam Percy
12:20 Jan 15, 2024

A wonderful sense of place in ths story, loved it.

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11:47 Jan 15, 2024

Absolutely beautiful. It slowly began to dawn on me… I cried at the end!

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David Sweet
00:42 Jan 14, 2024

Welcome to Reedsy! Enjoyed the story. It was heart-warming and poignant. I feel there is a lot of room for character development here if you decided to expand the story. This seems like you were going for flash fiction, but I feel there is some back story that could bring depth to the event. I want to know more about these characters!

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Anna Sweet
22:10 Jan 14, 2024

Thank you, David, for your constructive comments. Appreciated.

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