She wasn’t always this way though. Sometimes she would whisper sweet lies into my ear, the same sweet lies I told myself over and over until I accepted them as truth. We used to sprawl ourselves onto the snow like it was our own fluffy bed, our undying love for one another keeping us warm.
But people change.
Her feelings shifted, her outlook on life losing the spark she once was known for. Now she was a wavering flame burning to the last bits of the wick. A sudden loss will do that to you. Even the brightest, most bubbly person can cling to darkness when someone they love is taken from them.
And I didn’t blame her for it.
So, I was there. I was there to absorb all the hatred she had for the world, soak up all the outpouring of sadness that would flow from her like a waterfall when she couldn’t take it anymore.
And I will always be there.
She kicked the door open, its backside smacking against the bruised wall. “It’s fucking freezing out right now.”
I nodded. “Yep, winter will do that.”
“You always have to be quite the Sherlock, don’t you?”
“Does that make you my Watson, then?”
She glared at me, those eyes of hers piercing me like ice picks. She didn’t respond. She never did. I always tried to lighten up things, to say stupid jokes that should be filed under the bed, hoping that I could see a glimmer of her infectious smile. But it didn’t come anymore. It was tucked away, hibernating in a cave while the snow continued to fall.
Her boots smacked against the wall as she flung them off. “Can’t you get a fire started?”
I bit my lip. “We’re out of wood.”
A low scoff. “Of course we are.”
The dead of winter and here we were out of firewood. It went against our system, our winter prep that began in the spring. I’d fell the trees, buck them up into rounds, and she would gladly split them.
My gosh, could that girl swing an axe.
I’ll never forget the first time I taught her the mechanics of wood splitting. She’d grip the axe handle, swing with all her might, and would hit a knot in the twisted wood every time. She had a knack for it, so much so that I gave her the nickname of Ms. Knotty. She’d laugh and then grit her teeth, determined to hear that satisfying crack of wood as it burst into wedges. It wasn’t long before her skill picked up to mine. She’d take my hand and rush us outside to split wood. She’d make remarks of how splitting wood warmed us far beyond any fire could. And she’d always say it with a smile.
But then we lost her before spring was over.
No more days of wood splitting. The hottest parts of the summer were the coldest. She wouldn’t leave the couch. Tears would glisten against the leather. Her sniffling sobs became her lullaby.
And the cold never left.
I slid off the edge of the couch onto the thick-shagged rug. My hand swept up the carpet, swishing it this way and that way. Finally, I looked at her.
She slapped her hands against her thighs. “What?”
My hand patted the top of the rug. “Just for a moment.”
She flopped down next to me and stared at the stone-cold fireplace. My hand slid across the rug, up to her arm, before settling across her shoulders. She flinched. But she didn’t get up.
Pulling her in close, I rested my cheek against the top of her head.
“I’ll keep you warm,” I whispered.
And then she melted.
She leaned into me. Her muscles relaxed. I swore she even blew out a pleasant sigh. Her finger fiddled with the rug. She plucked out thick, wiry hairs and held them up to her face.
“God, I miss her. Why did she have to die?”
Her crying returned, making her melt into a puddle right on top of me. Her chest heaved as I hushed her, stroking her thick brown hair. My arms circled around her as she continued to unleash the pent up tears, the sadness that drown her spark, and the bitter cold that froze her soul.
I knew I couldn’t make that sweet dog of hers return. I couldn’t breathe life into that scruffy mutt no matter how hard I wanted to at least try. She loved that dog more than I could ever have loved a pet. But now she was gone. Whispering the same sweet lies she used to tell me, that, “Everything happens for a reason,” “Things will be okay,” would only make the cold return. So instead I held her until she couldn’t cry another tear.
I looked over at the snow collecting against the glass. The bitterness of winter trying to make its way inside. But I wouldn’t allow it. Fire or not, I wasn’t going to let it claim her once again.
My arms pulled her in closer. “I’ll keep you warm.”
She choked on a sob. Her dark eyes met mine and my heart swelled. Then her lips cracked into the faintest bit of a smile.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Until next post,