A Winter by Any Other Name Is Just as Cold

By Aevin Mayman

The stark bone branches clacked together soundlessly, the noise of their collisions swallowed by the thick falling crystals of snow. Each was the size of the hand of a small child, fitting and drifting together in swirling dances of ice and silent songs. When they hit the ground, sanguine blades of glass tinkled against them, softly lilting knives of nature. Bramble stems caught castles of fallen mirrors on their twisting, spined arches reaching up and up into a thrice locked sky. Whorled clouds spun in hypnotic patterns of bright pale lightning blues. Charcoal strokes of night struggled to be seen through the sweeping canvases of stone-washed clouds and platinum shining beams of moonlight.

She caught a falling flake of snow with a gentle hand, skin glowing with soft porcelain iridescence. A dress woven from branch skeletons and blood flushed leaves held fast over her figure, vines of creamed silver drawing the dress tight around her arms and waist, ice gathering in the train like a satin bowl of glittering jewels. The sweet smell of coming dawn sang through the trees like the most innocent of bird carols.

A small cat alighted on a distant branch, gossamer wing tips fluttering slowly with the careful deliberation of the feline species, its tail curled neatly around its paws and glowing with dark iridescence. A flake fell near the cat and it twitched an ear, hopping from its perch to glide smoothly down onto her shoulder.

She smiled and reached for it, careful satin fingers brushing lightly against its silken fur. It jumped down, paws like shining opals nestled among leaves of garnet. She sunk down next to the cat, crimson blades bent beneath leaved fabric and bone-barked thread. As soon as the falling ice touched her it spread out around where it had fallen, slowly breaking into millions of slow motion shards. She laid a gentle hand on the cat’s head and it purred, folding its wings against its back and blinking luminous white eyes up at the moon. She closed her eyes and felt the fur beneath her hand, the cold light upon her face, the shattering ice on her skin.

She was home.

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