The Lonely Winter

Last night I took a drive home. A long, isolated drive through a desolate winter world.
Upon embarking for the drive home I kissed my sister on the cheek and gave her family one last hearty goodbye, turning to make my way down their driveway to my car. It was late evening, and the first flurries of a nasty winter storm were just starting to fall. I had no desire to be caught up in it too far from home.
I turned the key in the ignition and the old beauty coughed herself awake with the vigor of an aged, faithful dog greeting it’s owner at the door after a day of absence.
I eased the car back down the driveway, mounds of shoveled snow towering over my car on either side. The winter had been harsh – record low temperatures and record high snowfalls. With another foot forecast tonight dallying on the drive would be ill-advised. Already the tree line along the road was obscured with white swirls. Snow snakes slithered and swam along the grey road ahead of me.  The riverside parkway drive was almost devoid of other drivers. It was a holiday, there wouldn’t be too many people out on the road with the Nor’easter bearing down over the city.
I drove carefully, watching the deserted streets while taking chance peeks at the void of whiteness to my left stretching out over the river. The sun swam hazily somewhere above the fog of blowing snow casting a warm, lazy glow across what I could make out of the frozen waters. There was something hypnotic about the emptiness of it. The abstract sight of that white nothingness pulled on me – I couldn’t keep my eyes away from it. The snow fell harder now – thin, fast flakes in a furious flurry chaotically darting through my high beams. My distraction was becoming dangerous.
I spied a small driveway off the road and pulled over into it. A river lookout nestled between skeletal trees. As the snow fell stronger I sat for a while and admired the stark vista.
As I watched their was a brief moment where the snow suddenly lifted, and I was struck with awe at the colours sent out through the flurries. The setting sun hung idly above the horizon, an indistinct glowing orb sending out fans of fiery flavor across the vacant waste. The clouds above mirrored the windswept snow dunes across the frozen lake – sharp, jagged angles, illuminated contours whistling of a cold harshness.
The storm closed in again and barred down on me. I knew I should leave, avoid the potential of getting stuck there or sliding into a ditch, but something kept me rooted to the sight of those frozen crags out over the river. I sat and contemplated the construct of winter around me. The dead trees reaching desperately towards an apathetic sun. The bone-like structure of the landscape – the absolutely lonely desolation of it, entranced me. I felt like something was waiting beneath it all, like the whole story wasn’t showing.
I reveled in confined comfort within that car for a long time, watching as the storm abated and night time fell, feeling a part of something larger I didn’t understand.
When I finally put the car in gear and slowly eased back onto the snow coated road darkness had taken over and I had to drive slow and careful to make it back to the city. After an hour the city buildings loomed ahead and I felt at peace with myself and the world.

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. Spring, summer, and fall fill us with hope; winter alone reminds us of the human condition.
~ Ruth Stout

You Can’t Write Horror on a Beautiful Day

Scene Manifestation.  Start. Horror. Still, cold night. Iced roads. Iced breath. Boots smashing through frozen puddles like hammers on glass.

It’s too nice to write here. It’s too sunny. The sunlight is pouring into the apartment from the cloudless sky outside, filling everything with that easy warmth love stories are made of. A bright blue aura over a labyrinth of clean cut high rises that makes you want to jump into lakes and eat gelato. That’s not inspiring. The only thing this weather makes me feel is lazy and unproductive. Disconnected from that world and disconnected from the world inside my head. How am I supposed to manifest this story with that sunny, angry love confining me to a place of frustrated happiness? How dare it be a beautiful day outside!

Perhaps I should wait until dusk to describe the scene properly. The stage I need for our opening act is cold, dark, and silent. It’s lit by moonlight and the distant glow of gas stations far beyond the malicious woods.  It’s so still each footstep seems to shatter grass and gravel under his boots, like thinly frozen puddles on one of those flash freeze city nights.
But you don’t need to know this, dear reader. I’m telling you a story, not painstakingly feeding you the every labored thought of a writer without a muse. But the story can only come to life in the darkness. And here I am being devoured by the brightness of the most beautiful day, the exact opposite of the scene I need in order to tell the story.
Okay perhaps we should start the story earlier. On a beautiful day before the tragedy occurs. Set the scene a little bit for you.

How about a prologue with a really good introductory line that gets you hooked from the start. Something that doesn’t make any sense perhaps, or is so riveting you have no choice but to keep reading. That’s what I need, a snare. I need to ensnare you, dear reader, but how?
A cloud hovers over the spot in the sky where the sun sits, mocking me. Suddenly the world is thrust into… into a slightly dimmer version of it’s former gloating glory. That’s not interesting.

Okay. So it’s a beautiful day in the beginning of this story. How drab. There’s water not too far away. A fast moving river, just beyond the circle of trees. It sounds fierce, determined. Just like this day is determined to ruin my opening stage, so the water seems excited to break the otherwise silence of this forest clearing. Okay, so there’s a clearing in the forest with water rushing by somewhere just beyond it. Around the clearing the forest presses in like the bystanders around the taped off scene of some horrific, fatal crime. The crowd wants to know what happened, wants to stick their egos in and feel knowing and important on the subject. They want to know what death looks like. They want to know if it could have been them. People don’t like to admit it but death excites everyone as much as it scares them. That’s why we crane our necks every time we see flashes of emergency lights on a street corner as we drive by, slowing our pace to get a glimpse of something primal, something unknown. To see something truly terrifying for once, something to jolt us from our autopilot stupor and remind us what it really is to be human. Death and sex, all we have left connecting us to a past we don’t understand, but desperately yearn for. A past when being human meant something less robotic, more alive.

So the crowd of nosy trees, big and oppressive, filed in from all sides blotting out the forest beyond but dared not to go any further. For in that clearing of gentle shadows and perfect rays of penetrating sunlight was something as unknown, and terrifying, as death.
In that clearing was love.
The man and the woman, they didn’t talk to each other. They didn’t need to talk to each other. What could possibly be said with the throaty, grunty sound we pass for language that hadn’t already been said with their eyes and their fingers and their lips? With their noses and their ears pricked they sensed every vibration sparking from the body of the other. The smell of their love mingled with the earthy excitement and terror the trees felt upon observation of this sweaty writhing mass in the middle of their forest. The water became angered that the intruders were not perplexed by its great and powerful intrusion of the silence and roared again with renewed intensity, desperate to reclaim their attention but knowing it would fail.
And the intensity of their love roared stronger in response. Flesh mingled with grass and dirt, mingled with flesh again and for that moment, a moment immeasurable, neither the trees nor the lovers nor their grassy bed or even the river could tell where any one of them ended and the next began.
The man and the woman became still, quiet, lying in the bosom of the forest sucking at the sweet nectar of the evening air. The river returned to focus on its own flow, ever moving on to search out new curiosities. The trees, content that there was nothing more to see here and the frightening show was over, turned their attentions back to farming the sunlight and conversing with the birds.
That had been the first time they had made love.

And by night time, once the warm glow of light basking this dear writer in unproductive rivulets of fuzzy emotions mercifully begins to fade and shadows begin to dance between the city blocks; once darkness descends across the land and the writer is in the perfect sadistic mood he so craves – murder will come to the forest clearing.

Or not. Suddenly I’m rather attached to these two characters. Oh bother, beautiful day, you’ve gone and spoiled my scene.

We’ve Waited Long Enough

 

There’s a girl out there, waiting for me.
I know,
I’m waiting for her too.
When we find each other we’ll know right away.
It’ll be like Christmas morning when we were kids. Discovering the presents under the tree
And rushing at them with open arms.

It wont take long to fall in love.
She’s already so lovely.
She’ll love the smell of rain, and old books, and we’ll go out together in the rain to old bookstores.
Then we’ll leave little notes in the books
For future lovers to find.

We’ll go home and cook all sorts of crazy food
And laugh about it when it goes horribly, horribly wrong.
We’ll go out to restaurants instead, arms entwined like chain link fences.
Candlelit dinners with french waiters and cobblestone patios.

She’ll be sweet with a wild side, like pop rockets.
Like little sugary explosions of delight.
And I’ll find her very pretty, even in the morning.
Especially in the morning.

And she’ll show me her world
And I’ll show her all of mine.
And somehow we’ll discover we were both only living in just half a world after all, and all the edges of our worlds will fit together.
Well, maybe not all of them. We’ll make some earthquakes and mountains in the process.
That’s falling in love, after all.

She’ll like me because I’ll never lie to her, and certainly try my best to never hurt her.
I’ll make her laugh all the time, and go through withdrawals when she doesn’t.
Her smile will be my drug.
And she’ll find me handsome and manly,
Even when I get all teared up at the sad parts in movies.
Especially when I get all teared up at the sad parts in movies.

We’ll throw snowballs at each other,
And stand on tall buildings to watch sunsets.
We’ll stroll through the woods, smelling leaves and taking pictures of mushrooms.
And in spring we’ll plant flowers all over the city, watch them grow.
Our own little secret flowers.

There’s a girl out there. She’s waiting for me.
I’m waiting for her too.
Watching the streams of rain flow down my windows.
Perhaps she’s out there today, umbrella held high, looking in shop windows.
Or maybe staying dry, filling her home with smells of fresh baking.
I don’t know where she is.
But I know she’s waiting.
And we’ve waited long enough.

Aurora

Just concept.
An ocean.
An ocean of light, shimmering, dancing. A woman, her face turned upwards, mesmerized by the ocean of light. She stands on the earthen beach below, her hair blowing gently in the midnight breeze. The ocean is in the sky, the light shimmers and shifts, and the woman stares up at it, her eyes shimmering and shifting along with the aurora borealis. She is in a field, a wide and wild field. There is tall green grass all around her, and distant mountains cupping her peripherals. She feels a million things, but is lonely. And that’s okay, the world will keep her company. She feels very small in that moment, very insignificant within the vastness of the breathing world around her. It’s moments like this she realizes the world really does acknowledge her existence on it’s surface, however. The shimmering ocean of dazzling colour above her is proof of that. Something so beautiful could only exist to be deeply appreciated by a perspective that can fathom the concept of it’s existence. And so she stands, the grass gently grazing the tips of her fingers, the chill night air kissing the skin on her face, the hem of her skirt billowing with life, her boots wet with condensation collected from the grass. She stands, head tipped up towards the endless sky and she watches the ocean of light dance.