Short Story: ON THE WIND

Here is a story for the beginning of winter, and the strange, liminal phenomenon of snowstorms at night.

ON THE WIND

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The streets emptied themselves when the snow fell in earnest. Lamps pooled cold light on abandoned drifts, frozen seas of ice, an alien landscape laid over one too familiar. Houses revealed their warmth through glowing windows and shuttered walls. Inside, people pretended to listen to the wind, ignoring how it begged. Trees bowed to the wind, earth withdrew to escape its blast. It owned the world on these nights. And across its domain it carried voices.

On the sunlit days that clamored with the cries of the living, these voices would be lost. They waited until the snow fell in thick palls and masked their whispers. Then they disembarked from close hollows and reunited with the world that was once theirs. Anyone who wandered into the storm might hear their cries, brushing against frozen ears, but no one ever believed what they heard. In that way the voices were merciful. They wanted one thing, and it did not concern the living.

In a flurry of ice and wind the voices collided. It was almost like touching. Their forgotten molecules flew against each other and joined. Through the dark rushing air they could feel their words.

My love.

I longed for you. I almost couldn’t –

Hush. We are here. We are here.

Trees moaned, branches sagged, the moon hid behind grey clouds. The wind became their breath and their flesh. For a moment, so brief in the span of their eternity, they could press against and into each other. It was a kind of intimacy that they had never known while still alive. They tried to cry and howl, instead whispering their ecstasy over the snow, which stirred and trembled at the sound.

It was never long enough. The wind returned and ripped them apart before they could ever finish. Daylight began to seep into the kingdom of ice, banishing all who muttered there. They whistled in torment as the gusts carried their particles back into the dark emptiness, where they would wait for another storm; and as they went their voices whipped the snow, dangling from blind rooftops and sleeping trees, into glistening icicles.

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