Saturday, 26 June 2021

'Weathering' by Sam Payne

After dreaming of tiny hands, you wake to find your wife has turned into an ice sculpture and you resist the urge to throw the blankets back, grab your car keys and drive long, lonely roads out of here. She's curled in the foetal position, eyes closed, frost patterns swirling the curves of her cheeks, clear sharp icicles clinging to her hair. She looks beautiful, she really does and this isn't her fault. The signs have been there for months; blue tinged fingertips, pale chapped lips, the way your words slid away when she cried snowflakes on what would’ve been the baby’s due date. But deep down you wonder how much longer the two of you can survive this kind of climate.

You carry her to the chair by the empty hearth, gather some kindling and old newspapers, and build a raft over a firelighter. Laying towels and a bowl of steamy water on the floor, you warm her slowly with a damp flannel until thin silver fault lines appear in the ice on her skin. Burning bark crackles and pops and the ice loosens and shifts and cool water runs in rivulets along the length of her limbs. Her breath comes in soft white clouds, her jaw trembles, her teeth chatter and she whispers sorry, over and over, and something frozen inside of you begins to thaw.

Taking her hands in yours, you blow gently as if she is tinder and tell her from now on you'll be more prepared. You'll seal the windows with rolled up rags, add extra blankets to the bed and bank the fire with slow burning oak, in the hope it'll be enough to keep you both from losing one another in this ice filled, barren tundra.

3 comments:

  1. This is such a beautiful and heartbreaking image of grief and love.

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  2. I love how you link thawing and birthing. And what a superb title. This is a story that really resonates. Thank you Sam.x

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  3. Beautiful heartbreaking story

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