By Alex Sven
It is the dead of winter—where I live winter is a pitiless bitch of subzero weather for many months of the year. Night detaches early and falls completely by approximately 1800 hours. It was a free day for me, a day off, no responsibilities. Now, at 2000 hours, I look out my foggy third-story apartment window into the blackness. Flakes swirl and gather in the outer sill and across the yard; a few trees dance in the dark like old forgotten scarecrows. These late hours bring with them the beating by of days—the slipping of sand through the hourglass—the infinite dropping feeling inside the stomach. Wind quietly hisses against the window and I shiver in anticipation of a longing that is impossible to grasp.
I decide to go for a walk, something that I have not been able to do for months due to the frigid conditions. I figure if I bundle up properly the short walk won’t be too bad—my mind is preparing to implode into a torrent of twisting thoughts that only ever bend back on themselves; I need to try something to clear it a bit. My heart is gripped at the prospect of sitting and spinning and spinning—going nowhere fast. Thermal socks, boots, jeans, heavy overcoat, beanie, gloves, and I’m out the door into the snowy landscape. Snow crunches beneath me as I brace against the wind. Streetlights offer the only illumination as I embark northbound up the sidewalk.
Tenth Street curves twice—on either side on the avenue it passes through—both times moving the street farther west the further you travel north. For the city’s lesser skilled motorists this seems to be a common place, in the winter months, to improperly maneuver their vehicles and end up sliding across the icy road and getting generously hung up on the surrounding banks.
As I walk through the first curve I begin to remember why I refrain from going on walks in the winter months. I secure my hood and stuff my hands deep into my coat pockets. My face and legs feel like needles, generally unresponsive and slow to command. The chill is threatening to settle deep in my bones. It is surprisingly dark—with snow in the air, as well as collecting in swirling vortexes atop the light posts—it works well to obscure a majority of the light which would otherwise be cast.
The avenue, once I reach it, is greatly illuminated, but with eyelashes growing delicate icicles and legs feeling like moderate voltage electric fence wire, I immediately turn back for home. The cold turns out to be more than I can bear at the moment; perhaps escape is more painful than the alternative, perhaps escape is not truly even an option after all.
Two shadowy, hooded figures appear from beneath the fig tree to my right—the one on the right is marginally taller than the one on the left. I can’t see their faces, but my heart switches gears and begins skipping beats. They are walking directly towards me, about ten feet away, as I move to the right side of the sidewalk to let them pass by me. They do not—instead, they hustle right at me as I see blades emerge from their mass. It happens fast—I am overwhelmed with darkness, I feel sharp steel plunging inside of me with precise rhythmic consistency, I feel feminine, tender lips press against mine in a sweet kiss; the overwhelming darkness uncovers, and I tip over into a snow embankment with the weight of a great timber dropped in the forest.
The snow conforms neatly beneath me—creating a cool, enveloping bed. I look up at the fig tree’s top, shaking in the frozen wind. The pale moth kisses the tip of my nose and flutters away now, leaving me to exhale the last breath of my mortal life, smiling in reminiscence of a tender kiss. All unravels in a brilliant flash of instantaneous light.