THE WINNER: Winter!
She stirred the sludge beneath her feet. The lights sparkling behind her blurred, alongside her vision. The rain seemed to wet her cheeks. Wiping her red nose with her sleeve, she inhaled sharply. Her ragged breaths showed through the smoke surrounding her lips.
The phone in her hand felt heavy, she could see the reflection of those behind her. Perfect and happy, together. Turning it on, she scrolled through the text messages that made the lump in her throat tremble. Kicking the suitcase beside her, she felt so helpless. Would anyone even care if she got sick? Seeing how small her contacts list was, she doubted it. Shaking her head, she tried to move, but her feet felt trapped. Like she stepped in cement. Letting out a breathless sob, she hung her head down low. Maybe it’d be okay if she kept waiting.
Winter “la-di-da” Wonderland
Cold particles stick to my hair as I trudge through muddled slush. All the filth and salt will ruin my new boots.
In a nearby window display, they dressed mannequins in winter coats, colorful scarves, latest fashion, “so freaking la-di-da happy.”
A car sends a cascade of chilled sludge down my leg, “Forget it.” I turn around and head for my tiny place, my haven from the frigid cold.
Once inside, I struggle to get out of my coat, nearly strangling myself with my scarf. When I’m finally free, I stumble to my comfy recliner. The warm knitted blanket I got last Christmas is warding off the chill. Eyes closed, I dream of spring, and warm weather, the world outside can live its own freezing life. Wake me up in three months. “I want spring.”
Paul and Paula
They had met during festive season, and he had been her only cheer, a gift sent from heaven, indeed asking her to marry him. It was that time of the year where she normally hung out with the other girls in vain hope for a miracle.
“Next holiday season, we´ll be home.” he had said and taken her by the hand, leading her into another world. Heaven on earth to her.
The crisp air made her gasp, and she was glad that it was cold and dark. That was the world she had known. Leaving it behind with him gave her hope.
“I can´t promise you sunshine and warmth all the time. But I give you my word to be true to you.”
They both meant it, neither said it.
That was life, but the true holiday spirit.
Heaven on earth to her.
Anna heard a cough coming from the kitchen.
“Elsa, did you go to the doctor yesterday like I suggested?”
“All the tests were negative, it’s just a cold, don’t worry.”
“Still, you should rest. I’m going to call Kristoff and cancel.”
“Please, I’ll be fine! It’s New Year’s Eve!”
“Promise to rest?”
Elsa nodded and headed to the couch.
“I ordered you some cough medicine, I saw something about one-hour delivery.”
After Anna had left for the evening Kristoff, Elsa sat on the couch half dozing. Suddenly the doorbell rang.
A young woman with messy dark hair was standing at the door.
“Hi?” Elsa said.
“Hi, I’m Honeymaren.”
They stood awkwardly there, until a buzz interrupted.
“Oh!” Honeymaren said, “I have another order to drop off. Here’s yours.”
“Thanks,” Elsa said. “Bye?”
“And, um, I live in the building down the street. Maybe I’ll see you around?”
A Pleasant Winter Night
Bone white ash spread out covering everything as far as the eye could see through the
glass lenses of his brass goggles. His gloved hand held a lantern lighting his way home for
the holidays. Guiding him through the labyrinth of tall identical houses adorned with bits of
metal debris on bronze wire strings, likely salvaged from a Dirigible wreckage along the
barren borders of the humble town.
He looked quite the dapper gentleman in his finest top hat and linen cravat. The gentleman
stopped to get warmth near an iron brazier roaring with crackling fire for anyone seeking
refuge from the harsh cold.
The colder nights always brought out kindness and pleasantries. Many men and women
and children shared a jolly, “Good evening!” “How do you do?” “I wish you well!” All of
these were offered to the gentleman, to be given an answer and receive the pleasantries
A cold had overtaken the morning where dull sunshine pierced through slate-colored clouds. Ice had
stolen the breath of autumn within the span of a night. Bare trees lined the woods with dead leaves at their
roots. A silence had dug its claws into the frozen earth, hung heavy in the air as a storm swirled overhead.
The nearby river flowed with slow-moving water as layers of ice floated down with the current. There
was no warmth that the sun yielded, no smell of earth that the plants from earlier times had exuded. A
hunger had come over the land, ceaseless and undying. It would take, and take. Not even bones would be
able to sate its hunger. It would steal from the sleeping, the tired, the weak. Illness, starvation, the biting
chill of a world void of warmth. This was winter; all she knew how to do was take.
During the heat of the summer, they complain of the stench, the odor. They look at us like we are no
more than mere rats. Infesting.
But when the temperatures drop, we are wiped from their minds like forgotten memories of blistering
seatbelt buckles. While the fat cats and bears have donned their winter coats and padded their lipid
linings, our skin and bones offer no more protection against the frigid chill than they sheltered us from
the sun while panhandling on the dog days of June.
We’re still here, as best we can be. The lucky ones scurry to shelters. The industrious of us scrape and
scrap. Morality becomes extraordinarily flexible when the ice begins to form. We do what we have to in
order to find warmth.
The truly unfortunate, well, they often close their eyes the final time with futile hopes of a warm