Back in November, our local writing group gave us the prompt of “Winter in the South” for our December flash story. I have very firm opinions of my fellow southerners attempting to drive in snow, most of which I probably shouldn’t put down for general consumption, so the prompt proved rather difficult for me. I wrote one story, Winter in Dixie, which I posted in December and decided against bringing to the meeting. It needed more than 500 words to make it work the way I wanted it to, and it only marginally touched on the prompt. Then the December meeting was cancelled due to holiday obligations.
This was a good thing. It meant I could chew on that prompt for a few more weeks and get something I was willing to bring to the meeting. It’s just over the word limit and still barely touches on the prompt, though it does better than the last one, but it’s closer to the genre I prefer to both read and write: paranormal romance. So, here’s my flash piece of the month, prosaically entitled Snow. Enjoy!
I hated snow, hated it so much I fled my beloved mountains to this humid, vine-covered hell. Snow reminded me of crackling fires, hot cocoa, and night skies filled with a million stars. Snow reminded me of him.
He arrived during a blizzard, tall and slender and so damned beautiful it hurt. Eyes as clear as a mountain lake, hair the color of freshly fallen snow, he should have looked ridiculous. Instead, he was magnificent.
I offered him the shelter of my home and the warmth of my fire. It was stupid. I know it was stupid. A strange man posed all kinds of dangers to a woman alone. I was confident, convinced I could handle anything, but I was wrong. So, so wrong.
There’s no defense against such a man.
He made no unwanted advances, no lewd suggestions, but as the days rolled into weeks and then months, I welcomed him into my heart and my bed. I knew he wouldn’t stay. I knew! He was a firefly, and to try to keep him would be to destroy him. But oh, how I wanted to!
When the snow began to melt, he was gone.
For three scorching summers, I patched the ragged tears in my heart. Those stitches, hard won and so very fragile, burst apart with dawn’s unpleasant surprise. A light dusting of snow coated the land outside my window. Not much, barely a couple of inches, but enough to send the locals into a giddy panic and rip my soul to shreds.
Damn him. Damn him! Why wouldn’t his memory leave as easily as he did? Why couldn’t I let him go? I closed the curtains with a jerk. I was not going to wallow in self-pity over him. Not again. I needed a distraction. I turned toward the television.
The doorbell rang.
I ignored it. Been there, done that, didn’t even get a damn t-shirt.
It rang again.
Dammit. Someone probably needed a tow. No one knew how to drive in snow down here. The streets were probably a reenactment of Disney on Ice with fewer sequins and more injuries. I opened the door.
“What—” I froze. He stood on my doorstep. As tall and as beautiful as I remembered, he also carried the scars of time. Faint grooves at the sides of his mouth and between his eyes. A hesitance to his posture and smile. The pointed tips of his ears.
I blinked. They stayed pointed.
“I came for you,” he said in a soft, musical voice. “When the snows fell and I was free to return, I came for you, but you were gone.”
“I couldn’t stay,” I whispered. “Every room bore your ghost.”
“As you haunted my heart. This world, it is not my own.” He touched the tip of one pointed ear. “I am a creature of hoar frost and ice caves, of glaciers and endless winter. I cannot stay.”
“But,” he smiled and held out his hand, “you could come with me.”