Three

59 11 10

I am falling, falling.

If I can only draw aside the veil, I will find the other world I yearn for.

Fear, wrapping its cold shroud around me.

I want to smash it, tear it apart.

Ice, shattering into crystals around me.

Before me, a fractured mirror.

Grief dyeing my reflection, and snowflakes weaving a garland in my hair.

And I am running, falling, standing again, and running.

Above me a hawk circles, its shadow staining the frosted ground, blooming like ink across the whiteness.

A warm breeze flattens the highgrass, releasing its sweet scent into the air.

Father lifts me high, and settles me onto his shoulders.

Mama tucks the coverlet under my chin, and leans in close to place a kiss on my forehead.

In the darkness, she turns troubled eyes towards the forest.

"Mama!" I scream, and the hawk screams too, and dives.

***

I remembered it all now. The overturned cart. The horse's shriek rending the night. Father's outstretched hands flinging me to safety. Beneath the pale moon, his crumpled form lying shattered against the white bones of the cliff. The heady scent of pine needles. The agonising twist to Mama's soft features. The light finally leaving her eyes.

Please, give them back to me. Someone, please, I whispered into the darkness. I'm afraid. I don't want to be alone. I knew they were beyond help, yet I continued to plead. I'll do anything.

After what seemed an age, a shadow emerged from the depths of the forest. It crept across the snow, until it became a black pool that coalesced before me. It wore the shape of a beautiful man, and his dark eyes were so grave I couldn't look away.

He took up my hand then, and, transfixed by those eyes, I made a promise to him.

The Heart of WinterRead this story for FREE!