Saturday 22 June 2013

'One Night' by Jo Waterworth

The strangest thing I ever saw? A girl carrying a snowman.

She’d wrap her skinny arms around it, heave it up a few inches, stagger from one lamppost to the next, let it down again. I stood in a doorway in the middle of the High Street watching this tableau approach. Under each streetlight the girl leaned on the snowman, catching her breath. The temperature had been around freezing for three days. The old snow was mushy on the verges, the pathways cleared by shopkeepers and countless feet. Away from the High Street, in yards and gardens, the snow was crisp and icy, crusted solid.

The snowman glowed orange, like an alien, like a god. Maybe she had claimed a god. I don’t know. I don’t think she saw me. She never looked around, she was totally focused on moving this cold dead weight from one patch of light to the next.

I never considered helping her, asking why. I stood in the shadows and watched as the same scene played out, over and over, getting closer to me, moving away.

A truck passed. Two cars. It was very late, or should I say very early. She looked like she was used to the night too. Lost in herself. On a mission. A meaningless mission.

She really put her back into it. I could see her breath steaming in great clouds. I could hear her panting, and the grunt as she lifted it up, the sigh as she put it down. A skinny thing, black leather bomber jacket, Doc Martens, straight-leg jeans. She wore a red cap. I remember thinking that was odd. I wondered if the cap had been on the snowman. Maybe she stole the cap. Maybe she was moving the snowman to save it from being destroyed. Maybe she was taking it for a little sister to see, dying in a bedroom somewhere round the corner. Who knows?

Maybe she was like me. Setting aimless challenges just to feel alive.

Perhaps the snowman was her only friend.


The Water Levels Are Rising...

There's less than a week left before National Flash Fiction Day 2024 when we'll share another veritable flood of flash fiction here ...