There was a buzz in city. The streets smelt of Chinese spice and stir fry vegetables as cookers worked over gas burners in little marquees. Red paper lanterns were strung up and gold steamers waved above the crowds.
Music echoed, drums beating and cymbals crashing. Gasps rose from the people and they parted like a breaking wave as along the road came a golden dragon. He was rising and falling with the beat of the music. Bells that decorated his flashing scales tinkled and his yellow mane blew in the breeze.
He fixed his large eyes onto the crowd then downwards as a child darted before him. The dragon regarded her slowly then he opened his mouth wide. The child placed a red envelope on his tongue and the dragon clamped his teeth shut.
A joyous cry roared through the crowd. The dragon shook his head and started to dance once more, welcoming the Chinese new year in.
The blizzard arrived like they said it would. The snow and wind came down blindly fast. Things ground to a stop like the rusted cogs of a clock. People battled against nature, trying to get on. Children free of school were sledging and building snowmen. It seemed right to join them as not much else could be done.
Days, weeks and months past by. At first it had been fun and slightly annoying but now the blizzard was frustrating and angering people. Cars and houses were snowed in. Transport was limited. Buildings were closed due to burst pipes or lack of heating or it being too dangerous to open.
Homeless people were frozen solid in the street, buried under snow moulds that became too much effort to dig them out. Rubbish piled up around them, unable to be removed as the roads were too blocked up. People who dared to go out risked tripping over the hills of such things.
Other people froze or staved in their homes. Their bodies left because even if they could be recovered, how could they be buried?
Those luckily enough to move away did so and soon that was the only answer. The snow kept coming, the city turned to stone, trapping the people that remained.
The windows were crazed by icy lines as if a spider had gone hyperactive and spun it’s web madly. Frost lay inside the house as well as out, showing that this place had long been abandoned to nature.
My breath fogged before my face and I had cover my mouth and nose with my scarf. Dust lay thick and a crumbled calendar on the wall was dated ten years ago.
I didn’t fear the homeless, drug users or anyone else who might be here because the house wasn’t suitable. It was colder then outside and the water was frozen in the pipes. Plus, this house was far from anywhere else. My guess was it could have been the game keeper’s home from what had once been a big estate before the land had been sold off for the building of new houses.
I photographed what interested me, taking my time and enjoying this experience of untouched urban exploring.
A lone mug stood on the windowsill as if someone had been drinking tea whilst looking out at the winter snowstorm. I captured that moment feeling like it summed up the atmosphere in the house.
The smoke rose above the trees. That was how he was able to find them. He followed the smell of burning wood and cooked beans.
He moved through the night like a shadow, staying strangely silent for a beast his size. He knew how to quieten his feet, body and breath. He knew where everything lay in his forest and could avoid the nosiest bushes and dry branches of fallen trees.
It was always best to wait, he knew that but sometimes there was no time. Tonight, the people were camping, sleeping in tents. It was the perfect and easiest hunt.
He arrived, slowed and took in the scene. The fire was burning low, orange embers against the black ground. The two tents were together, sheltered under the trees but not from him. He listened and could tell they were sleeping by the sound of their breathing.
He licked his lips and crept forward. All ready he could taste their blood.
He pounced. The tent collapsed underneath and he ripped into the fabric.
Screams rippled through the air then faded into night.
There was a demon in the basement. I didn’t think anyone else but me knew. At first I just left him alone when I went to do the laundry down there. I would hear him snipper, hissing, moaning and giggling. Sometimes he would shuffle about, moving from one dark patch to another or else edging into a puddle of light to peer at me.
He was a small demon, about 4 foot and he was bright red like a burn. He had a curly, long tail with a spiked end, flat feet but wedded toes, he sometimes walked on two feet other times four. His hands were like his feet only with longer fingers and sharp like dagger nails. He’s body was bone thin, his neck long and his head too big. Huge black eyes stared out, his nose was snake slit and his mouth wide and full of needle teeth.
We never spoke but we both knew each other was aware of the other. I don’t know what he was doing down there and I didn’t wish to know. He could go about his business and I prayed he left me alone to get on with mine.
She sat in the waiting room, hands twisting in her lap and eyes watching the clock tick away. There was only a few other people around which was unusual for a Tuesday morning but it was Christmas and New Year holiday time after all.
She had wanted to come alone. Most of her family and friends had offered to come with her. It was a big day after all. She had shook them all off, needing to face the test results alone. Everybody had been with her throughout this whole thing but today, she had wanted to reflect quietly, whatever was said.
The doctor called her in and she felt her heart skip a beat and her breath freeze in her lungs. Somehow, she got her body working and stood up to go into the room. Nothing had changed since her last visit. The blinds were still down on the window, the computer was hot and humming away. The shelves were filled with medical stuff and a poster about getting the flu vaccination was trying to peel itself off the wall.
‘Your results are back,’ the doctor spoke, ‘I’m pleased to tell you, you are clear of cancer.’
The snow fell on the town. Flakes danced in the lights from windows and out on the street. There was no noise as the snow stuck to cold patches or melted on warm roofs. Everyone was asleep, staying warm as winter froze everything but a small face appeared at a window and looked down into the street.
It was not the first snowfall of that year that the child had seen but for her each was magical. She thought some of the icy flakes could be fairies fluttering by. They helped to spread the frost and ice that lay thin.
The child rubbed her eyes and felt sleep calling her back to bed. She hoped the snow carried on falling. There would be games to play outside tomorrow, snowman to build and hot bowls of stew to wolf down in the evening.
She could wear her new suede and fur coat, the knitted gloves and hat from granny. Father might take them sledging on the hills and to feed the deer herd. Maybe, they would go to auntie’s for tea and cake on the way home.
Head full of things, she snuggled down back in bed and had dreams full of snow and fairies.
The snow had been falling for the last week, it came as no surprise to Joy. She was a winter baby, born on Christmas day. As a child she had hated that, at first double presents had been great but then she had had to wait a whole year to get more whilst it felt like her friends got two separate days of presents.
An adult now, she didn’t mind because if she wanted something she could just buy it and actually when people asked what she wanted she struggled to say. This year though, she had been clear on what gifts should be under her tree and that included the reason for her drive out today.
It was a long one, an almost six hours round trip but God it was going to be so worth it. Joy caught herself smiling in the car’s rear view mirror, she couldn’t contain her excitement. Glancing down into the passenger seat, her smile just grew even though it felt like this was a dream.
The golden retriever puppy was curled up a sleep in the basket Joy had brought with her. For as long as she could remember, Joy had wanted a dog and now her Christmas wish had come true.
The Christmas tree is up! I don’t care what people think. The best time of year is here and if I want to go all out celebrating then that’s my choice!
Anyway, it’s been proven that putting up Christmas decorations early makes you happier! For me, that’s so true. I love all that magic feeling from lights and sparkly things. It makes me so happy when I see trees and lights in and on other people’s houses! It’s like the knowledge that they are embracing the holiday too.
Tomorrow, I’m putting the lights up inside and out. It’s a huge task but I’ll find people to help me. I just hope it’s not raining because then the outside lights will have to wait. I’m so excited for when everything is finished as coming home will make it seem like I’m entering Santa’s house. (Well, what I imagine it could look like!)
After decorating, my second favourite thing is wrapping presents! I have almost got everyone something and in the next week or two I’ll get wrapping up. I love all the papers with their different prints on and the feel of the more fancier ones. I don’t think a Christmas tree is complete without presents underneath!
The sun was dipping low and reflecting on the lake’s still surface as if there was a second sun setting on another world under the water.
I didn’t look back as I walked on the planks towards the small blue painted wooden boat that lay in the tall rush reeds. I was calm in mind; empty headed my grandmother would describe it as.
Untying the boat, I pushed it out so the bottom wouldn’t get stuck then got in. I rowed out, noticing the thin mist parting around me and the ripples the oars created. It was all ready freezing out here and a thin frost was settling were it could. I could imagine the morning sun making the frost glitter like candlelight on crystal.
Stopping, I lay down in the boat’s belly and listened to the lapping of the small waves. I shut my eyes and let the cold come to me. Tomorrow, they would find me with frost on my eyelashes and lips. My yellow and gold lace trim ball gown frozen to my body and his last letter against my heart.