The Texture of Winter


Winter has textures. Soft and sharp. Rough and smooth. For one woman, winter has always embodied a feminine persona. Now, seeking an embrace as ultimately forgiving as that of a mother’s love, she wanders a bleak path leading to an end that is at once brutal as it is loving.

This was a work of experimental fiction from Untreed Read’s short story line The Lab withdrawn by the author at the end of 2016 with the intention of using it as part of another future project.

Strange that winter should be feminine.

The world had turned white, yet that was untrue; it held so many more hues than milk, or chalk. There was grey in the pallor. Some of the scenery looked dull. Elsewhere, it looked so bright that it sent a sharp pain stabbing into the eyes. Hints of blue, purple, and rose refracted the light. The sun tried to pierce a grey dawn, but the clouds sent its rays back in defiance.

She felt cold. Tears once cried became frosted gems. Reaching up with stiffening fingers, she brushed at the frozen moisture on her cheek and gasped in surprise to stare down at the diamond that came away in her hand. Nature had studded the landscape with similar crystals.

Bending, she scooped up some of the ice to place on her tongue; it melted in the heat of a moment. She swallowed more, holding so much in her mouth as to make her teeth ache. The sensation flooded out into her face. When the pain made her moan, she swallowed what remained, the cold so fierce it burned her throat. The ice trickled all the way down inside, amazing her. How strange to feel something having felt numb for so long.

She kicked off a shoe.

To step onto the ice felt like walking onto cold steel. The ache quickly penetrated her foot, sunk down into her flesh in search of bone. The muscles of her calf began to tremble.

Leaving another shoe behind, she started out barefoot.