Winter Is Here


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A wind as cold and cutting as your sentences. Each word a knife, stabbing into my very existence.
Disregarding my pleasure to stop and retreat. Piercing the flesh, searing the tissue, drying the
marrow from my bones. Shattering them completely like brittle glass. Grinding them beneath your
feet until they are nothing but the finest of stardust which you so carefully brush off your sleeves,
scattering me to the world, banishing me to the skies, to watch you from afar, never to touch but to
adorn your heavens as a pretty jewel, illuminating your paths even whilst I burn in the futile hopes
to guide-nay! Trick you to hom-... The hous-..... To guide you to the quarters... The quarters we
Winter is here, lov-.... Winter... She.... Winter is here, sire, the third time around but.... But I guess
you still haven't found your way back.... Home.



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Chapter One

"The falling leaves, outside my window... '
She sighed and leaned over the side of the rocking chair, reaching out towards the gramophone.
Turning the knob she lowered the volume until Eva Cassidy's voice was just a soft croon; a part of
the background noise. 
Leaning back, she tipped the chair until it was teetering precariously on it's back legs. 
Letting the chair fall back with a small clatter on to the marble floor, she wiggled her toes in the
socks just as the last of the song faded into silence. 
She got out of the chair and stretched, reaching her arms up to the cloudy sky where a few brave
stars were trying to blink through the fog. 
But like always, it wasn't the stars but the moon that had once again managed to capture her
Finally, gracing the valley by coming out from behind it's white shroud, the moon bathed the
house and it's surrounding area with light, giving the whole scene a rather eery, yet peaceful
Smiling, she swiped at the sky as if to catch the silvery orb but the moon, as if gauging her
intentions, went back behind it's thick fluffy blanket of clouds. 
Scowling slightly but with eyes still alight with good humor, she resumed stretching, bending her
body back and sideways to get rid of the stiffness that seemed to have settled in her muscles. She
yawned, covering her mouth, closing her tired and itchy eyes, she swayed momentarily on the
spot, letting exhaustion crash over herself in waves until a quick gust of wind brought her
crashing, somewhat unceremoniously, back to consciousness. Muttering to herself, she
extinguished the oil lamp and started to walk inside, her mind pleasantly occupied with thoughts
of coffee and warmth. 
She had nearly crossed the threshold when she heard a soft noise break the silence of the night,
bringing her out of her reverie. She waited with bated breath. Yes, there it was again: the soft
crunch of footsteps on dewy gravel. Shaking her head, she let her breath out slowly and turned to
go inside once again when she thought she heard a familiar tune. Straining her ears she tried to
guess the song the traveler was humming when realisation struck her like a lightning bolt. 
Hurriedly, she set the still hot lamp on the ground and started frantically to light the match.
Finally, after many tries with the wind extinguishing the flame before it was even fully lit every
time, a match finally struck true and with a small fizz, the little head of the wooden stick lit up like
a minute explosion of light momentarily blinding her with it's brilliance. Quickly, praying that the
wind wouldn't choose this exact moment to pick up, she brought the match to the lamp's wick
where it flared and dimmed several times before miraculously steadying itself despite the strong
Flushed and exhilarated by this small accomplishment, she grabbed the lamp's handle tightly and
ran to unlatch the heavy metal door. Too afraid to cry out to the traveler lest she should awaken
someone, she took off into the direction where the sound of retreating footsteps was stillsomewhat audible. Wincing slightly when her tender feet hit the hard gravel with only a
centimeter of wood to protect them, she paid no heed and ran Pell mell, Straining her eyes, willing
the moon to come out once again and light her path towards him.
Suddenly, the road started to move uphill and she clenched her clattering teeth against the wind
and ran until her lungs felt like they were full of fire. At the very top of the hill, she looked down
and caught sight of a silvery head in the moonlight. 
And thus, as quick as they had arisen, her hopes crashed and scattered haphazardly all over the
floor of her own disappointment. Slowing down to a trot, she felt her knees buckle and hit the
rough gravel of the road, the lamp slipping from betwixt her slackened fingers. Numbly, she was
aware of the sounds of footsteps running towards her. Lo! And behold! The stranger was trying to
help her to her feet. 
'Are you okay? 'he demanded in a somewhat hoarse voice. How could she have imagined that this
person had sounded even remotely like him? 
' Yes, 'She whispered, not quite meeting his eyes. 
' What happened?' he asked more softly this time. 
'I, nothing, a dog,'She whimpered as the cold air made the various cuts on her body sting. 'A dog,'
She repeatedly, more clearly this time while racking her brains furiously for an adequate response.
'A dog? 'the man sounded skeptical. 
' Yes. Thank you, 'She added as she gingerly brushed her clothes off. 
' Well. Anyway. Where do you live? Let me walk you home.'he said abruptly. 
'No!' She exclaimed, then, 'no. My.. Err.. Family,' she muttered. 
The man nodded understandingly. A young girl such as her returning home alone would be bad
enough around these parts. Returning home with a strange man would be nothing short of begging
for murder. 
'You'll be okay, then? 'he still seemed unsure. 
' Oh, yes. I don't live far off. Just down the hill, 'She noticed the relief that was palpable in the
man's eyes as he stooped down to retrieve her now extinguished and cold lantern. Taking it from
him, she thanked the man again and bade him a good night as she turned and walked, albeit
painfully, towards her home. 
Absently, she noted that her feet had carried her a long way in her haste. But now, the adrenaline
and excitement having receded, she felt each and every cut and bruise she had received,
individually. Grateful for the warmth, she entered her home and immediately stepped into a hot
shower, wincing slightly as the hot pellets hit her skin as she tried, though unsuccessfully, to wash
some of the feelings of disappointment and hopelessness away with the grime. 
It was only after later when she was in bed with a mug of coffee between her still tender palms
that she allowed herself to lean her head back against the headboard while two thin streams flowed
from under her tightly closed lids, hot as anything yet cooling immediately in the frigid wind. 
Fumbling underneath the pillow, she brought her phone up closer to her damp eyes, trying to
decipher the blurry keys needlessly because she knew that she could type that message in her
dreams. She typed the same message which she had been sending every night since the past eight
months, only with a slight modification every time the winds changed: 'Winter is here, love, but
where are you?' 
No longer hopeful after eight months of silence, she drained her mug and set it on the table and
turned off the lamp. Staring nubmly at the moon playing hide and seek up in the sky, she driftedoff to sleep holding the initially cold but now steadily warming plastic body of the gadget that
refused, yet again, as it had done steadily for eight months now, to buzz with the one alert she
yearned to see on the little screen once more....

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Chapter Two

‘Wake UP!’
She groaned softly and rolled over; covering her head with a pillow. Trying desperately to cling to
the last vestiges of sleep, she tried to let her mind relax as she pressed down into the soft and
welcome warmth of the bed.
‘ATTACK!’ She barely had a moment to register what was happening before three little pairs of
hands took hold of her blanket and pulled it over their heads, diving quickly underneath it to
snuggle close to her as had become their daily morning ritual.
Alas! As is commonplace to happen when one, or three, has some important information to impart
with, calamity struck at the most unwelcome of times.
There was an almighty crash before a terrible pain started to spread over her face, nauseating her
and making her eyes water. She would have gladly pressed her face into the pillow and spent her
day in bed trying to numb the aching throbs that were travelling stead fastly from her nose to her
temples had it not been for the unearthly wails ensuing from the company who had come,initially,
to wake her up.
Rubbing her nose gingerly, she peeked out from beneath the blanket at the small party, one of
whom was on the floor. She took the scene in for a few minutes and guessed from the flying
accusations that apparently the three eager little reporters had misjudged their speeds with which
to enter the blanket in their states of excitement and had thus collided rather hard with each other
and their older friend. Seeing that she was awake, the fighting stopped and the wailing slowed
down to soft, barely audible sobs and the occasional hiccup. 
‘What’s going on here?’ she yawned.
This was clearly the wrong thing to say because no sooner had she said it than three little mouths
started relaying their own versions of the events of the day making it almost impossible to hear a
single sentence properly. However, she had dealt with this small army before and she calmly
reached over the bed to a small whistle lying besides the lamp. Raising the silver device to her lips
she blew hard for a few seconds and only stopped when all three soldiers raised their hands to
their ears.
‘Now, then,’ she said placing the whistle in her lap should she need it again. ‘Why don’t you all
take turns in telling me what happened?’
‘You start,’ she said nodding towards the smallest of the party who smoothed her hair and started
speaking shakily and with much interruptions and corrections by her two partners.
One by one, all three children took their turns in telling their part of the affair and by the end she
had concluded that the reason behind their haste which had eventually led to the accident had
been:‘SNOWWWWWW!’ they screeched in unison.
‘Snow,’ she said skeptically.
‘Ye-th! Mum th-aid she’d let us build a th-noman out-th-ide if you’d take us,’ the tiniest little one
lisped close to her ear. Then remembering the mishap let out a small cry, ‘but now we’ hurt!’ 
Sensing that the dam was about to break afresh, the older girl quickly picked up the small child
and examined her face closely. Repeating this exercise with the other two children, she rested her
chin thoughtfully on her palm and screwed her face up as if though concentrating hard on
‘Whatta matta?’ asked a boy not older than the first child.
‘Broken,’ she replied sadly. ‘You’re all broken.’
‘Broken!?’ their faces were an identical mask of alarm.
‘Can you fith u-th?’ the youngest whispered, her eyes shining bright with un-shed tears.
‘Hmm… Well, I might be able to do something but it won’t be easy.You’ll need to stay still while
I do it and you need to give the morning attacks a rest for a couple of days. At least a week,’ she
said seriously.‘Just so your heads can heal properly,’ she added quickly looking at the growing
suspicion on the oldest child’s face.
‘Okay,’ chimed two little voices followed by a timid ‘o-ay’.
‘Right then,’ she said briskly, snapping her fingers. ‘Who’s hurt the most?’
‘I ge-th that’th me,’ as she had suspected, the little maiden was the first one to climb into her lap.
‘Hmm,’ she pondered looking intently into the girl’s eyes. Leaning down she placed a kiss on the
right side of the girl’s forehead, just below the girl’s hairline where she suspected she had bumped
her head. 
Repeating this exercise carefully with all three children, she declared them fit.
‘But what about you?’ Came a surly little voice. 
She looked at the little boy, the oldest of the three who was scowling at her. ‘What about me?’ she
‘You hit your nose. I hit your nose. Don’t you need to fix that?’he replied in the same surly tone.
‘I can’t kiss myself now, can I?’ she chuckled, her eyes shining bright. ‘But you guys could heal
me.’ She offered looking at each kid separately in turn.
Thus, she received three timid little kisses on her nose just as the children’s mother came into the
room looking for them.
‘What’s been going on here?’ she asked suspiciously.
‘We broke our heads!’ the oldest of the trio exclaimed happily.
‘But she fi-th’d u-th!’ the youngest one chimed in.
‘Bwain won’t fall out now,’ the second one interjected looking rather put out by the whole affair.
‘I see,’ their mother knew better than to ask for any details as she ushered the children out to
‘You alright?’ she asked turning back towards the younger girl who was gazing forlornly at her
‘Of course,’ the girl replied pushing back the rising disappointment in her chest. It had been the
same old routine since the past eight months. She woke up with the hope that there would be a text,
just as mall good morning or good night, waiting for her and every day the blank screen seemed to
mock her as it dashed her hopes.
‘Get ready and come to breakfast.Oh, and can you take the kids out to build a snowman today?’the woman turned and left without an answer already knowing that the girl would only reply in the
Breakfast took longer than she had expected and by the time the children’smother had declared
them all ready (i.e. bundled up like Eskimos) she had grown impatient of the long wait.
‘Hurry up,’ she whined, not unlike the children she was supposed to look after.
The little ones trotted after her carrying bundles of fabric in their arms. 
‘What are those supposed to be?’
‘Clothes fo’ the snowmen,’ came the oldest Eskimo’s voice, muffled from his muffler-clad lips.
She shook her head at the children’s enthusiasm but remained silent and trudged through the white
The clearing which they had chosen as a playground wasn’t far from the children’s’ home. It had
once been an abandoned plot one house over from the children’s own but their grandfather, sensing
the children’s need for a safe area in which to exercise and play had purchased it and had it cleaned
for the children. He planned to have swings installed in the summer but until then,it laid a clean but
desolate piece of land quite fit for building an army of snowmen as the children planned.
The children’s excitement seemed to heighten as the distance between them and their play area
vanished. They crossed the last few feet at a sprint leaving their older friend to shout out words of
warning and advice as they slipped and skidded on the frost. But the children pretended not to
hear her as they threw the snowmen’s clothes on the ground and started searching for the softest
mounds of snow. 
Quickly analyzing the snow in the nearby mounds, the children settled on a big pile and started
working on the first snowman.
She watched the children for a few moments before spreading a tweed cloth on a fairly even stretch
of ground and sitting down on it. She took out a book, A farewell to arms and lost herself for a
while in Mr. Hemingway’s world only occasionally finding a scene or a quote to remind her of the
hole in her chest. Finally her cellphone rang out a chirping melody but she knew better than to feel
hope even if her heart still did a little somersault in her chest at the prospect of hearing a familiar
voice. Peering at the screen against the glare of the timid sunlight reflected in the white snow she
saw her aunt’s face on the screen and realised it was time to go home. She cut the call and typed out
a message to let the older woman know that they were on their way home, as had been instructed.
Putting the book, her cellphone as well as the tweed cloth she had brought in her bag, she turned
towards the children to beckon them towards her but what she saw made her blood run cold.
She sprinted towards the children barely stopping herself in time so she sprayed the children with a
fine spray of the powdery snow. ‘Where did you get that?’ she asked through bloodless lips,
pointing towards a red embroidered scarf tied loosely between the snowman’s head and his body.
‘Found it,’ huffed the youngest of the party.
‘Found it WHERE?’ she couldn’t control the rising volume of her voice.
‘In your room,’ the little girl’s voice was rising as shrilly asthat of her older friend’s.
Taking a calming breath to steady her nerves she stretched herhand towards the scarf.
‘NO!’ the children screamed in unison.
‘Look,’ she began angrily then stopped herself. ‘Look, you can’tjust take people’s stuff like that.’
She finished her words with exaggeratedcalm.
‘But you have so many scarves!’ the tiny tot stamped her foot, hereyes starting to twinkle with
tears.Pinching the bridge of her nose between her thumb and pointer shewas about to reply when her
cellphone rang out shrilly. 
‘Where are you?’ came her mother’s voice as soon as tapped on‘answer’.
‘We’re on our way, we got held up finishing our snowman,’ she answeredher mother as politely as
she could while mentally calculating how best tosalvage the situation.
‘Oh,’ her mother let out a breath. Probably worried I’d pushed thechildren in a ditch, she thought
feeling an uncharacteristic burst of anger ather mother’s concern. ‘Well, come back soon. Lunch’s
getting cold.’
‘Of course it is,’ she replied stiffly cutting the call off beforethe woman could reply. 
‘Come along,’ she said turningback towards the children taking one last look at the snowman.
Supper that day had been a nearly unbearable affair. Dinner, evenmore so. No matter what she did
to occupy herself, she always went back tothinking about the lone snowman standing in the empty
plot less than a hundredfeet from where she was staying. She had tried unsuccessfully all day to
sneakout of the house, stopped each time by her mother who had grown suspicious andsteadily
more irritated with each encounter before she gave the whole thing upas a bad job.
Hence, she had waited with a patience she did not quite feel untilthe last of the residents of the
house, her mother, not surprisingly, had goneto bed. Even then she waited for two solid hours, torn
between the hope that ifthe scarf had managed to survive being stolen by some poor and cold
traveler lookingfor God’s gift of warmth, it would survive a few hours more and the between
herown pessimism that it would have been stolen by some evil homeless person themoment they’d
At last, at a quarter to midnight, she dressed more quickly thanshe had ever done so before in her
life and sneaked out of the house like shehad done a mere twenty four hours ago. Seems like a
lifetime ago, she mused as shewalked carefully, trying to silence her footfalls by walking on the
snow whichdid manage to mute the noise but also meant that she had to be extra careful soas not
to fall. 
She kept thinking about time and what a strange phenomenon it was.She wondered why last night
seemed like several months, even years ago buteight months had passed in the blink of an eye. She
tried to recall thestranger’s face, whom she had met last night, and found that he was already ablur
in her distant memory. Then, more against her will than on purpose shethought of the face she
hadn’t seen for eight months and found that she couldremember everything vividly as if she had
just left his company barely a minuteago. She could still recall each andevery smile line etched
into the delicate skin near his eyes, the onlyso-called flaw on a perfectly chiseled face as if carved
by God in his momentsof leisure, perfecting everything from the too-long lashes that would
havelooked feminine on another man to the hollows of his cheeks that would havemade
Michelangelo green with envy.
Losing herself in these moments of bliss she started when sherealised that she was already before
the snowman. The figure glinted in themoonlight like a sentry guarding some precious treasure.
Perhaps it was a trickof the moon on her tired eyes but for a moment she thought that the
lifelessfigure waved at her. Shaking her head at the absurd thought she chastisedherself as she
made her way towards the snowman. 
Suddenly, an idea struck her and she moved away from the snowmanagain. Quickly getting her
cellphone out of her pocket, she snapped a fewpictures of the snowman, thanking the moon for her
light. Then, she made herway back towards the snowman and calmly removed the scarf fromaround it’slower head without it making so much as a swipe at her to ward her off. 
Taking the slightly damp material between her gloved fingers she exchangedthe frayed red scarf
for the one she was currently wearing. Grimacing againstthe damp cold she wound her new scarf
around the snowman’s head. Patting itsstomach gently, she turned and made her way back towards
her home, her snowyfriend watching her back; protecting her against anything evil.
She walked home quickly and carefully, still wary not to make morenoise than she absolutely
needed to. Silently, she padded barefoot to thecloset and hung the damp scarf up tenderly making
a mental note to dry it inthe fresh air tomorrow so it would not get spoiled with fungus or mildew. 
She made her way back towards her bed and got her cellphone out ofher pocket. Examining each
picture she had taken recently in turn, she pickedone in which the snowman was gleaming and the
red scarf was perfectly visibletoo.
Sitting cross-legged on her bed she typed a message to accompanythe picture:
You see. You told me I’d move on and I’d fall in love again. Butlove, there is no again when you
fall in love once. The morning sun is taintedwith the bronze of your hands, your hands in mine.
The evening moon is awitness to all the promises you made to me. Try as I might, I cannot do
withoutyou. Every other man is simply a reminder of you but not quite you like Mr.Frost here. In
these eight months, not a day has passed that I have not thoughtabout you. Not a moment has my
chest eased even slightly so that my breathingmay become easier. Not a second has passed that I
haven’t searched for you orhave been reminded of you by something or the other. I remember the
promisesyou made last winter, sir. Promises of keeping me warm, promises that eventhough the
world would sleep under a blanket of frost, we would stay awake allnight keeping each other
company even if just by our words. And now? Winter ishere, sir. My love, winter is here. Winter is
here, my love, but where are you?
She typed the message and sent it via her mobile’s internet. Shepeered intently at the screen for a
few minutes until the ‘last seen yesterday’changed to ‘online’. She stared at the little screen
tapping it every time it grewdim due to lack of activity. She stared until the ‘online’ changed to
‘lastseen a moment ago’. She stared until her tears fell freely on the plastic and thescreen grew
dim and finally turned off.
Thrusting her hand, still clutching the cellphone, roughly underher pillow she bit her blanket so as
to muffle her screams and sobs of anguish.Screaming until her throat was raw she exhausted
herself to sleep still prayingfor just a simple ‘good morning’ when she woke up.

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