I think I just rambled, Life

tales from a past icicle: layers. lots of layers

In keeping with the theme of the season (the theme? It’s cold. The season? Winter.) here is a little something I wrote whilst living in the wilds of Canada …

As much as I very much wish I was an early bird, I think I’ve come to the hard conclusion that I am not one.

I wake at 5:00 am, four alarms later and I’m stumbling out of bed and into the bathroom. Cleaning, teeth brushing, make up applying follow in very. slow. order. (In this, I can safely say that I will never be accused of being too fast) and then I’m dressed and downstairs at 5:35 am for breakfast.

And then I have to apply more layers than rock layers in geology for venturing forth to catch my bus – which leads me to a Very Important Issue that I will a-dress (ba-dump) here:

ON WEARING A JOLLY BIG AMOUNT OF LAYERS

by A BITTER ENGLISHWOMAN

I used to think that I had to cover up (oh! the irony!) the amount of layers I wear. That I should be ashamed of wearing more clothing than a charity shop possesses. That I should tough it out and be a brazen:

‘Is it minus forty? HaHA! Gee! I didn’t notice. This t-shirt and coat is making me feel a bit overheated actually.’

(A breezy laugh ending with an accidental snort accompanies this announcement.)

WELL NO MORE!!!

I am finished with this self-imposed shame. I am no stranger to the damp winter cold of England, but the deep, deep depths of cold here in Montreal? No. I am not used to it. But, I’m adjusting to it. Slowly.

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(And I’m very proud of myself when I don’t have to wear gloves and it’s minus ten and pfft? What is this? A mere chill breeze, mortals!)

(I was wearing a heck of a lot of layers at the time. And the sun was shining.)

(So it probably doesn’t count.)

Things I’m used to:

  • Watching the rain
  • Living with the rain
  • Dodging puddles of rain water
  • Discussing the rain
  • Singing in the rain
  • Scurrying in from the rain

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Things I’m not used to:

  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Freezing rain
  • VERY VERY COLD COLDNESS

A little part of me wistfully longs to wear a beautiful coat with shape, elegance, and style, but right now? I wear a gazillion amount of clothing when I bus to work. It’s cold. I want to be warm. Being a human icicle is not a life goal.

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I will always be a tiny weeny bit embarrassed. It’s hard not to be. (COME ON, I’m wearing one coat, one hoodie, one fleece, one top and one vest – and that’s just for my top half.) But, I’m not going to apologise.

Nope.

Because yes, I’m wearing snow pants when literally no one else is … but if the wind blows sharply or the heavens sends its sparkling dandruff down … I shall be prepared.

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Characters, On Writing

Waiting for Trains

Now, I’m going to admit that this is a bit of a long post. But if you have a few minutes to spare than please do read on. The theme for this month’s Chatterbox is ‘Waiting Fulfilled’. And so below is a small story about a woman who is waiting for her husband and would rather not have ‘death by bench’ on her obituary.

And you may have noticed the new header of this blog. It is winter and I feel the need for warm wood and polar bears.

– – –

She had waited for oh so long. Both for the train and for him.

Though, to be perfectly truthful, she had waited only two hours for the train. For the man on the train, well, she had waited much longer for him.

Three years, five months, two weeks and six days. And, if she truly applied herself, she could work out the hours and minutes as well. But she was quite done with applying herself and besides, maths was never her forte.

Oh, she thought, very well then. I may as well be truthful with myself.

❄ Winter Wonderland ❄ PLEASE NOTE: this  image is a GIF - Animated Pin ❄ Please click on the play button to view ❄It had been three years, five months, two weeks, six days, ten hours and- she glanced at her watch and moved her hand to catch the light of an overhead lamp- thirty-six minutes.

A long time. Too long, almost. But she often thought that it was too long. She had thought it too long when his car had driven off in a cloud of black smoke that heralded a need for a mechanic. She had thought it too long when his first letter had come a week later. When that first lonely month had dragged so unwillingly by.

And then there was that awful first year.

And that perfectly dreadful second one.

She shivered and pulled her coat about her. It didn’t help much. She was going to sit on this cold bench and wait for the train even if it killed her.

She hoped it didn’t though, she had much too much to live for.

And besides ‘death by bench’ didn’t have a nice ring to it.

Suddenly she stilled. Because-? Could she-? Was that-?

It was.

His train – his long delayed train was coming with an impatient huff and a piercing whistle. She could hear its approach.

It was coming. He was coming.

She stood up and began to pace, up and down. Up and down. Puffs of her breath showed white in the air. Up and down.

Here it came.

Standing very still, she watched as, with a screech of the breaks, the iron monster came to a stop.Smoking train (by: Ralph Graef)

(It wasn’t a monster, she told herself. It was a dear, dear machine that was bringing him to her. And that also made her wait for two hours in the bitter cold. Yes, it was a monster. A dear monster, but a monster nevertheless.)

Smartly dressed passengers dismounted. Bags and briefcases bashed each other whilst their owners took sharp breaths at the sudden cold outside.

She stood and waited.

And suddenly, suddenly he was there.

Tall, dark hair messy (because three years, five months, two weeks, six days and bother the hours later and he still forgot to brush it) and with those kind brown eyes glinting in the lamplight, he stood there. In front of her.

“Hullo Vivian,” he said.

“Hello,” she said staring up at him. He really had a marvellous chin, she thought irrelevantly.

He joggled his briefcase and cleared his throat.

“You look …” he started, and she wondered how he was going to describe her. ‘Wrapped-up Cornish Pasty’ she had mentally described herself this morning. Though if he said, ‘Wondrously Beautiful Beloved of my Heart’ she wouldn’t complain.

“… like …” he was fumbling for words. It was rather strange really. He had never fumbled for words. Not even on their wedding day when she had come down with a nasty cold and sneezed during his wedding vows. He had squeezed her hand and smoothly carried on with ‘through sickness and in health.’

She couldn’t bear it anymore. Three years and all those months and weeks and days and a delayed train were much too long to wait, so she did the sensible thing and flung herself in his arms.

He caught her and she didn’t hear the ‘thump’ of the dropped briefcase.

He drew back after a few moments, holding her at arm’s length (though, she noted that he held her quite tightly even then) and staring down at her. “You look,” he said. And stopped. Cleared his throat.

She nodded encouragingly, much too full of everything to speak.

“You look like home.”

Oh,” she replied eloquently as their breath curled white and delicate together in the winter air. “How lovely.”

On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

He is swearing an oath to be warm

April’s Chatterbox is here once more and the topic is Resurrection (in this case – a resurrection of hope and of fear. A big thank you for Rachel for hosting again). This month I have chosen to write of The Many Trials of a Blacksmith and the character of one Gufflocks Thomas, former advisor to a slain king.

 — — —

The chamber is cold.

The black iron spirals across the white stone walls and he remembers a time when they weren’t there and the stone was crisp and without shadows.

But he also remembers the blood.

One night – that was all it took.

One night and red spattered the walls, coating it with dripping specks which shone dark by candle light.

He remembers the gurgled cries and cut-off screams.

He remembers the monster who strode in, whose armour was dark and sword was already crimson. One short laugh at the room and at the lords and the councillors in their white nightshirts and thick robes now torn and bloodied by the seeking blades.

One short laugh and fear rose up and consumed him. Choking him like a clinging vine.

Fifteen years and the fear has died – beaten down with sparse food and prison bars and an apathy that clings like the damp does the dungeon walls.

But here he is now – standing where it all began and all ended and he attempts to force down the memories which rise up before him and paint the walls red once more.

He turns his mind away from these thoughts and dwells upon a faded image – fifteen years have worn away the edges and dulled the face so that only the clear, ringing laugh is remembered with clarity.

But then he remembers the loss and turns from thoughts of her as well.

“Did you know – I distinctively remember meeting you for the first time in this room.”

He starts and turns and there, standing by the open door is him. He isn’t wearing armour, isn’t holding a sword. In fact, he is attired in a deep purple tunic, light yellow hose and brown boots with a thin circlet of silver atop of his dark head.

Nothing could be further from the monster of that night, long ago.

Except for one thing.

His eyes.

And fear is resurrected. Or perhaps it was there all along – slumbering in a deep sleep like a dragon awaiting its awakening in the distant caverns of his mind.

As he meets the Duke’s gaze, he realizes that it doesn’t matter if the man is wearing armour and surrounded by bloodshed or standing in a clean room arrayed in immaculate purple – his eyes stay the same; cold as a winter’s night.

And he shivers from the cold of his gaze and wishes for a tinkling laugh which always seemed to melt every chill and warm him from every icy day.

And then the Duke is speaking and he is offered a choice. And the owner of the tinkling laugh is placed within his grasp and he sees her image, resurrected and alive in his mind’s eye and he chooses.

He may become a traitor to his country, a betrayer of his friend. But he is so very cold – he has been for fifteen years – and he has longed for an age and shivered in a tiny cell for an hundred lifetimes while her warmth fades from his heart.

And now a blazing fire could be his and he will do anything – anything at all, to sit by it and bask in its flickering blaze.

And so he closes his eyes and sees his wife once more. He gazes at her in hope and opens his lips and promises to be a traitor.

But in his mind he isn’t making a vow to doom a country.

He is swearing an oath to be warm.

A little while more, my love …

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