Saturday 24 June 2023

'Central Heating' by Misha Herwin

Ice clouds the windows when I wake. The tip of my nose is frozen. Beneath the duvet we snuggle in a tangle of limbs. Reluctant to leave the warmth, my toes curl in protest as my feet touch cold lino. Goosebumps scurry up my legs. My thighs tremble.

I dare not heat the house, for under the stairs squats the gas meter. Tick, tick, like. Like a malign goblin it robs me of food for my children. Either we shiver or we eat.

There is a way to defeat it, but it will take courage and resolution.

I bundle on my coat, pull on my boots and hat and make my way up the hill.

The slopes are brutal. Stripped of trees, the caves gape from the rock. Most are empty. The pride of the flock are long gone taken by those rich enough to settle their dragon on a bed of gold, diamonds, sliver or sapphire. The creatures are not fussy. If it sparkles they will nest.

The cave, I enter, stinks of sulphur and flame. I can see nothing. Then comes a whimper. The runt of the litter, naked of scales, its pink raw, wheezing a dribble of smoke, crawls out of the darkness, drawn by the flash of my phone.

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