Wednesday December 23rd, 2009

The exercise:

Two days to go!

Your prompt today, courtesy of Greg, is: in the bleak mid-winter.

And, at his urging, mine is a continuation of what I wrote on Sunday.

Kat and I are off to Osoyoos this morning, so I'll see you when we get back on Sunday. Hopefully the scheduled posts will go up properly and keep you company in my stead, should you have a chance to drop by during this very busy time of year.


I wrapped my red scarf around my neck and struggled into my white winter jacket as the end of my shift drew near. The instant the clock’s electronic display changed from 7:59 to 8:00 I locked the front door, slung my purse over my right shoulder, and let the tension drain from my forehead. After checking to make sure the safe had been properly secured (the lock could be a bit tricky and I’d been called out by my boss for leaving it unlocked twice already, even though I thought I had) I switched off the main lights and moved to the back of the shop.

Placing my light pink toque over my short blonde hair and wriggling my fingers into my red wool mittens, I took a moment to ready myself for the cold outside. I could hear the wind howling on the other side of the door and struggled to stop myself from shivering before I even left the heat of the flower shop behind. On a sudden whim I decided to treat myself to an early Christmas present and take a cab home instead of waiting around for the bus.

Sucking in a lungful of warm air, I pushed the door open and stepped out into the white night. Once I heard the door click shut behind me I lowered my head and forced my legs through the knee-high snow in the alley. As I reached the sidewalk I saw husbands and wives struggling under the burden of too many gifts in too few bags and couldn’t stop the sneer that sprung to my face.

Ah, the joys of being single and not being on speaking terms with your family – no need for all that nonsense.

Without much hope I looked up and down the street, searching for an unoccupied, on duty cab, and was surprised to find one heading my way on the heavily salted asphalt. I waved my arm and, to my even greater surprise, it actually pulled to a stop.

“Corner of Sage and Timber Avenue, please,” I said as I crawled into the back seat.

“Sure thing, honey,” the cabbie called over his shoulder before bringing us away from the curb.

Oh great, another man who thinks with the wrong head.

But, to my deep pleasure, that was the only comment he made as we wove through the crowded streets. He had his radio set to a jazz station and it was a sweet relief from all the Christmas carols I had been inundated with in recent weeks. When we came to my street I reached for my purse almost reluctantly.

“How much?” I asked as I fumbled for my wallet.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” he said with a warm smile that actually seemed genuine. “I was heading this way anyway.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. Have a merry Christmas.”

I nodded my thanks, too stunned to find the proper words, and stepped from the car hardly believing what had just happened. I stood in the blowing snow and watched him drive away until his tail lights faded into the night. Then I turned to walk down my street and, right in the middle of my bleakest winter, a real, honest to goodness smile came to my lips.


Greg said...

That's a superb continuation, it's so nice to find out more about her! Really good, emotive writing too. I hope she pops in here from time to time to grace the odd post :)
I quite liked the another man who thinks with the wrong head line too, just subtle enough.

In the bleak mid-winter

There is iron, and there is snow. Everything around us is cold, the sky above is grey and offers only the promise of more snow; if not now then later. When we dare peek beyond these iron walls, there is snow, stretching to the horizon. No trees, no animal tracks, no signs of movement that don't turn out to be the first snowflakes of the next blizzard.
We've tried digging down, but under the snow there's more snow, and eventually ice. We've not got far through the ice, partly because we've only got one pick-axe, and partly because the heat a man generates using it starts to melt the snow he's now six feet deep in, so the walls of the pit cave in. We lost Joey that way. I guess he's buried deep enough, until there's a thaw.
If there's ever a thaw.
We built igloos inside the building, and snow baffles at the doorways. The storms here must be horrendous for this great iron castle to fill with snow like that. The ceilings are eight feet high, but the snow in the rooms is at least three feet deep. It's warm enough for now, and there's food still for two more weeks, but after that....
We've built snowmen too, up on the battlements. It was fun for the kids, and to anyone approaching it'll look like the castle is still manned. It might buy us some time if General Timmet's army comes this way.
Ah, a shout's going up. Time for carol-singing. When life's as bleak as this, you have to make light wherever you can find it.

Marc said...

Thanks very much, glad you liked it!

That was a damn fine piece of writing you did yourself. I could picture the scene quite clearly and the mood was palpable.