Flake by flake it's falling.
I cannot help but always be in awe of snow. Not simply because of the cloak of calm it covers the winter days with, but because of the courage each tiny flake carries in itself, not a fear in the world. Happy to fall.
Sometimes I wish I were like that. Happy to just let go of my worries and daily stresses, let life become what it wants instead of what society says it should be.
I came here to escape those thoughts for a day or two, the ever-evolving sometimes crushing expectations the world has of you. I just wanted my idea of a proper holiday- where the silence soothes the mind enough to lose oneself in your own thoughts. I had chosen to leave my phone off upstairs for the day- not that there was anything it could do up here anyway. I liked that, being in the middle of nowhere with no connection: it felt like someone invisible had been pulling strings on my arms like a marionette and disconnecting had forced them to let go- I felt free.
As I pull on my coat my hair catches in the zip as I do it up, making me laugh. Back home where life was a constant rush, my hair was always tied back in a bun out of the way- a constant headache from it hanging just behind my eyes. Being away meant I could have it down.
The cold hits my face like a hundred needles when I open my door making me gasp aloud. My breath hangs in the air like the cigarette smoke does back home, I admit I myself am guilty of adding to that after a particularly rough day.
Despite the initial shock, I slam the door shut and begin plowing my way through the blanket of silence. The day is slowly coming to a close, I can tell because the pale sky is becoming tinged with faint reds and golds, like paint seeping into watercolour paper. I know it is not a smart idea to go far, but I feel like a short trip to a lake I know nearby, and back is safe enough.
I walk slow, but I have no problems with that, I like it. The lack of need to hurry, everything at my own pace. I reach the lake and look out across the shining surface. It's frozen solid, the odd ice trough showing where people have skated to a halt. I used to love ice skating when I was little. My mother used to say I looked like I was flying inside my mind when I did, I remember that feeling, I would lose care for everything, sometimes a little too much. My fingers wander to my wrist and I wince as I remember the break, even then I had been reluctant to leave. I give credit to the cold numbing the pain there though.
The reds are spreading now, lightening into a soft peony pink that then fades into violet. I turn to head back after standing there for a minute, but something catches my eye. There, up in the sky, the colours have started to move, mixing, twisting as if they are trying to form a shape. I stop, unsure what to think, almost fearful, and turn to concentrate on what I am seeing.
We've all heard those stories: the ones about someone who passed, showing loved ones a sign when they are most alone. Or a voice stopping them before they do something that would have resulted badly. A story of something supernatural. But personally, I had never heard one and fully believed it. I do not know what exactly was holding me back, perhaps it was simply my love for scientific reasoning. I couldn’t believe things like that were real. At least, not until now.
The colour has moved from the simple sunset scene into a tight round ball in the center of my eye line in the sky. The thought pops into my head, maybe this, is it? If it is, should I say a prayer? Before I can focus on the thought, the ball I am watching starts to roll. I cannot describe it any better, literally, it is rolling. Behind it, it leaves a patch of colour, a smudge of yellow.
As I watch it, the yellow starts to take shape: a small face. A little girl appears, laughing, dancing eyes projected from the yellow in the sky. A small chubby hand reaching up to the now star-filled darkness around her. Taken aback I lose my footing and part of my brain registers I have fallen.
The girl is me.
The ball has not stopped rolling, it has moved to leave pink, red, every colour I can think of and from each one, a new image is forming.
Five-year-old me is gardening with my father, proudly presenting him with whatever weed I had just pulled up, 10-year-old me sharing her future dreams with her friends, fifteen-year-old me breaking down as she tells her parents She's gay. Every colour smudge is a memory, a package of emotion in itself, and I am completely overwhelmed, watching my life play out before me, tears pouring down my face.
As sudden as they had all come, in a flash, nothing. They all vanish. I can’t explain how I feel like someone has robbed me of my feelings. Before I can process further, from the darkness a single figure emerges. She's sitting, her face a broken façade of perfection.
That’s when I realise it's me. exactly as I am now. She's duller than all the figures, in fact, the only thing about her still colourful is her chest, where her heart would be. I am hugging my knees to my chin as she is too in the sky but up there, I am projected behind what look to be bars.
As I watch, each bar starts to take form, a series of flashing images that are holding me boxed up: my phone lighting up with a morning alarm, grey buildings, a handful of bills stamped urgent, a snapshot of that tight work skirt I hate wearing, a graveyard. Wait, was that my name on a stone? The girl behind the snapshots, me up In the sky is trapped in a prison of the images that are flashing around on a loop. It is breaking my heart. I cannot compare the two people- my younger self and myself today. It is being displayed in front of me, how I lost sight of what I cared about; because I got so wrapped up in the life I was told I should have.
The flashing stops.
My tears have soaked my jacket, I cannot stop them from flowing. The girl behind the bars starts to stand up. She looks weak, undernourished like she isn't cared for. She puts out a hand and places it against the bars. Then, just like that, she pushes them away.
The second she does this, the colours start to come back to the sky. The younger versions of myself reappear, all standing there watching the girl, the same girl as them but older, so pale and tired looking. I realise that that same girl is not looking at them, but straight at me. At me, sitting in the snow, the cold seeping through my jeans.
The girl in the sky looks into my eyes and as she does an echo of a voice, my mother's voice fills my mind.
‘Go fly Laura! But be careful okay? You have to look out for yourself out there’.
The girl nods at me and reaches out a hand from the sky. In that second, I realise what she's telling me to do. She wants me to go onto the lake, back onto the ice.
I stagger to my feet, my legs are shaking, a mix of the cold and emotion I'm sure. I hold her contact, that gaze that is almost pleading with me. With a shaky breath, I let my foot touch the ice.
The second they meet, foot and ice the young versions of me fade back to colour, blend back together. They are forming one, one with the girl whose gaze I hold. Her cheeks are colouring pink, her eyes back to green, her body growing stronger every second I watch.
‘Go fly Laura’ My mother's words echo around me as I close my eyes and push off onto the glassy surface.
Flake by flake it's falling.
I take the risk to fall with it, happily. It is okay to fall. As long as you get back up, as long as you never lose sight of where you want to go. That is the only dangerous fall. So please, I implore you, do not.