Nov 18
fiction challenge: Winter

Snowless season

I dream sometimes, of love and hate and snow. Here in California, where summers rage with endless flames, where each spring and autumn brings another dusty wind to my window, there isn't much to speak of. But there is a sweet release for three months, when the weather cools and all becomes still. I dream of corporate buildings rising from a flat skyline of roads and highways stretched over a desert in disguise, and the month of January. The new year is welcomed with celebration and joy, fireworks and sparkling lights, barren trees and frigid cold, and death in every ash-grey branch devoid of visible life. Winter is a season of mortality: a beautiful, ephemeral, and tragic one. 

I pass the library every morning on my way to the cafe. It seems misleading to phrase it that way, because I never walk all the way to the haven that is its small wooden countertop, macchiatos with cinnamon, fragrances of espresso and steamed milk. The library’s intimidating gothic architecture and dramatic arches make it seem like someplace sacred. Maybe it is sacred, inhabited by the spirits of angels to bestow their blessings of wisdom upon a forsaken city doomed for destruction. 

I never used to be like this. The sun used to shine just as brightly every season, and Winter meant nothing more than a brush of cold air on my face, an extra coat in the backseat, and limited-edition drinks at the cafe. But as the temperature cools and the blue sky is replaced by clouds diffusing light onto the grey pavement, the forest clearings in the early mornings are illuminated by a heavenly glow, and suddenly her barren branches and dead brambles are made beautiful in the golden light. 

The cemetery is the best place to see the delicate halo of Dawn stretching her fingers over the forsaken land. Far away from the center of the city, it’s easy to forget the whirring sounds of the highway that propels life forward, at the place where all life comes to its final end. The last traces of autumn have not fully withered away in this early December fog, and the odd flower can be foraged from the numerous paths running through the forest amid thin shards of what once were leaves, crushed to dust beneath a thousand footsteps. 

Children here are always happy in the presence of Winter and her promises of cooler weather, hot chocolate, and Santa Claus. I envy them eternally, for she will never remind them of anything but joy, hope, and Frank Sinatra songs playing on the radio. When I close my eyes I can still feel his cold hand in mine, his frozen tears suspended in time and space forever, the shrill pulses of the machine that marked his final heartbeat, and the ephemeral scent of his favorite heirloom roses that perfumed the hospital room. 

Winter offers no roses to adorn his grave.