It’s so cold. Why it’s so cold? Why was today cold? Why is everything now a different state of coldness, just changing its subtle shades like used camisoles? Well, today is forever gone and tomorrow is bruised with hope. But the morrow might not even show up tomorrow- that’s the hope.

Even before she could complete these thoughts, they froze over. It was freezing in the attic, so much, too much, so much so. She wasn’t alone in there but she felt that she was. In the nocturnal cold, she wasn’t covered but she felt naked. Even though the night was looking at her, she wasn’t worried about being watched, the night was blind as was everyone watching her, so it didn’t matter to her that she was still being courted by the beast. She could only pray the beast had a geriatric, gigantic library, full of fossil paperweights. Inside out, she was frozen; the cold paced in her attic edgy pale with hunger, moving around her with an unmasked anger. Every part of her that was her, and the parts that weren’t were chilled to their very roots, glossed over with latticed ice. Every bit, little bit of this, little bit of that, little bit of nothing, everything was just so still, so unleavened, almost pure in their white starkness. The hush outside the attic hummed inside feeling oppressive. Her limbs had stiffened in her absence gelled immobile, her joints unmoving past caring now. She couldn’t even hug herself, not that she wanted to. Her stiff fingers were giving her jip, she wanted to jam them in her armpits, her fingers snug against the top of her rib cage, the back of her thumbs leaning against the sides of her breasts, even the undersides would do, but she didn’t yearn for warmth anymore. Her hair were turning purple even though that wasn’t her color, but her young skin was still as white as ice-floes in an ageless river, and just as pristiny dirty. Her hair was pitch black but in another story, her eyes chilly lilac in another unfinished verse.

She waited, oozing in the air something other than pheromones that was containing her thoughts. Bereft of all things warm, there was only her and the cold left now, and somehow the night wanted in on this action too. The cold and the night, plus her. Well, her bed was big enough. What could happen?

It was as quiet outside the attic as she was disquiet in the inside of it, waiting for ghost of footfalls to fall. And yet oddly enough, she was still pining for Snow. She heard it stirring on the effete ground restless, the moors weren’t waiting for her, not this time around. Rustling of the snow outside was its sotto voce eagerness to be crushed brutally. Snow’s singular desire now was to be walked upon by something other than her; the other girl snow wanted.

The room in which she was keeping herself as much as the room was keeping her plunged without warning, taking in the air so sharply that everything around her constricted to breaking point. Luckily, she was already uncouth and broken in; who was there to exhort her when she was forced to perform, separate from all her actions, her limbs had moved independent of her up till now. Then the room hiccupped letting it all go, letting it all out in one big whoosh that reminded her of the fjords she had never seen, up in the north of everything she has never been to. The space around her wobbled a little before smoothing out neatly.

The windowpanes bulged then settled back in as all around her relaxed once again. All that was left was a sickly sweet smell of lingering plagiarism coming in from a window that was no longer a secret, which she inhaled gratefully but still this place felt so weird to her. She was at odds with being marooned here, held up against her open need in this attic that was hers and yet it wasn’t.

She happened to be looking that way when a quick movement outside her window startled her. Shadow of something flickered across the windowpanes. Silhouetted against her window was something unfamiliarly familiar to her.

She turned halfway toward it, even though it had seized her full attention by now, she was clever enough to give it only a cursory glance. So she looked out the window feigning bored curiosity and found herself looking at a solitary figure trying to get a look inside; she tried taking in this aspiring Bertolucci that looked lost, like something that had wandered off from a forgotten lore, something that had went off the game trail and was standing outside her attic window now. She figured it couldn’t see her properly through the dirtied window, but she could view it quite clearly. She looked at it closely and then looked closer even more. She looked at it through the veil of smudged glass like it was Collier’s painting of Lady Godiva instead of the distorted thing that it was on the other side of this forced glass border.

To her, she was nameless for she had forgotten all her names and she was given plenty of names, until she decreed it was enough, to her it looked like if all that’s occasional and everything that’s collapsible was summed up, solidified, personified into a stray scarecrow then it was that trying to look through her window. She wondered briefly how her gentle voyeur was standing outside her window when there was no ledge underneath it, but she quickly dismissed the thought deciding she didn’t care. There were no ledges, no rooks to be found there. There would be no croaking up in here, it wasn’t that kind of night.

When she looked again, her blackened strawman was still there trying hard to see past the begrimed windowpanes. She was vaguely charmed by the way it was trying to peer inside, but she knew if she were to look away the charm would be lost, and she’d be exposed again to another world, which she adamantly did not want. For three, four seconds glazed over and encrusted with icy sheen, she allowed herself Musing of a Lamb. So she mused a few, thinking what was so peeping about a bare lady astride a destrier galavanting through town? A lady of unshakeable repute riding a warhorse going to town like that, no need of a longsword for this weird warrior warpainted warpathing away, for her skin aglow lighting up the whole painting, auburn hair that could set fire to anything were weapon enough. Even through an enforced exposure that was very much required of her, she was still so beautiful, how did that happen? Maybe she was in love with perfection, maybe that’s why she was happy but dejected, maybe that was her secret or maybe she had none, maybe she ate all of her secrets every little dribbling one of them. Since she couldn’t get real canvases, Godgifu was content to be on one, she seemed apt at making do.

It’s just she thought she was a better patron of dreams than that lady. She felt, and rightfully so, that anyone could build their entire oeuvres around her. Because she knew what this was. This, all of this, she had better dreams than this, and just like her, her dreams weren’t unkissed. She knew a thing or two about dreams; she was like a texture of a dream herself. She was just like a dream ripe but when abandoned unacted, she too like dreams would go sour, if left unattended inside a mind too long she’d go from being a pliable idea to toxicity in a heartbeat, dead or otherwise. It was her nature to do so.

She must have been staring at the wretched wanderer for some time now and in the same manner as it so desperately wanted to stare at her. Her act felt unnecessarily cruel to her then, though it seemed to be enjoying even that, so she broke the spell. She was only part Wiccan, not a full on witch. She was a full woman fully imagined, complete in ways that was all the magic she needed to perform tricks with her nimble fingers and even nimbler mind. But that was never enough for some, especially for the one sleeping in her bed, oblivious to the extremely painful cold having unwittingly borrowing all of her warmth. The trouble was the slugabed occupying her bed believed a little too much in her magic; last night he had hit that bottle pretty hard and now couldn’t be stirred. But she herself was sober a well behaved thought in a misbehaved head, for the most part.

Anyways she was breaking eye contact with her not wholly unwelcomed guest; so she did that and went to where it was waiting for her. Not sure why she was doing so, did she mean to ward off the imposing intruder, or invite it in. Though instinctively she knew it didn’t need her permission to come inside, scoop up her brain matter along with her dusty shine. In two quick strides, she reached the wound in the wall that was her window freshened once again by her presence and she stood facing the forlorn figure her breath puffing out of her, staining the air hovering around the attic that was still being written about.

She looked at it and wanted to mock it. She’d just as lief taunt it as she was likely to comfort it, but she didn’t want to push it, the border of this reality was thin after all, even though it was hardly Allhallowtide. She looked at it, the weakened waif standing there wheezing looked utterly beat, after having pipered her to the window. Its exhaustion was irritating her so she stopped faking it all, everything that she had been faking.

She peered at it with a passing sincerity but she stood her ground facing it off. She witnessed her sudden admirer reveal itself little by little; each time it steamed her windowpanes it became a little less stranger. She just hoped it was a man and it was, more or less. Men never the honeyed lambs being the culpable ones, but they were innocent in all of this, wounded fatalities that they were, getting swindled, weak, vulnerable, and hopelessly gormless. The unlucky bettors, the unfortunate gamblers, the inherent losers. Thinking these enlivening thoughts cheered her up.

Then she recalled what she had been doing. She was looking through the window. The first thing she noticed about it was its eyes; hollowed out and bloodshot, ogling her yes, but popping out of its skull that was mostly made up of stillborn love. Huge eyes; yellowed like the moon is when it wants something. Its glance was neither hungry nor benign. It was just still, chilled, like finality of a well-deserved fate coupled with smugness of a final draft. Its glance was soundless. There was nothing familiar about this unfamiliar but its eyes weren’t foreign. That’s too bad, she had a taste for the foreign. It was looking back at her now, its bluish face sagging upon itself pitifully as it looked on. Its face was hideously pretty but made truly beautiful by her undivided attention.

She was looking at the face somewhat quizzically, thinking about it, but still she couldn’t remember it. Then the familiarity of her sweet sweet voyeur deepened and the penny dropped from the tallest building in the smallest city that didn’t want her inside its dwellings anymore, and she knew, she knew this thing to be Winter.

She almost smiled fondly giving it a slight nod. The sum of all that was winter, ere and after, was trying to clear away some of the filth still barring their way. Exulted now, it was propelled into a frenzied possibility by her almost proximity. The poor thing was using the inside of its wrist to wipe the window but all it managed to do was smear the grime across the windowed curtain further marring the view of each other. But things have became unrushed now, they felt one other better. They measured each other by the horror etched on their faces, two decent rivals fighting for a song. It was looking at her now, not at all dissuaded by the limitlessness of ink.

She knew it was gawping at her smooth roundness, full and firm, a smoothness that she possessed but wasn’t hers, yet again nothing of her belonged to her. Darkened pinkness of her areolas twirled upward and then onward as she danced in her mind, smudging around the edges, blurring her realities, bringing much appreciated and universally accepted merriment to all her surroundings, then all her pinkness faded in a dream like a dream. She twitched due to its too ineffable stare, moving away from the window a little, egged on by concern and the intensity of its look. The way Winter was still hanging onto the sill, she supposed it wanted her to hack away the window, hewn a passage for it. Her raw nipples were roughened enough to cut through igloos. So yeah, she could slice this window, no sweat. Or she could use her index finger to cut a hole into her world for this cold courtier to come inside, but she didn’t want to cut anything anymore, and Winter knew that too. She supposed it wanted a lot of things. But what about what she wanted? She wanted to sleep in winter all the time, yet she knew what the Winter wanted, from her, of her, and for her. So it can go off-

It was miming something at her. Urgently in extremity. Its jaw dropping open gaped widely, settling into a perfect O of a moonstruck poet, maddened gagging on words, moonbeams occluding its mouth, left gargling . Its limbs akimbo, its head hanging a little askew, its mouth hung agape in a grotesque parody of Munch’s Scream. It was uncanny, like the Scream was stolen from Oslo once again, and placed right outside her window. She was bemused until it lurched, leaning forward it breathed on the glass misting the panes. Its slimy tongue poking out of its glistening mouth nipped the window, its slovenly breath spreading hardening the glass, until it ripened wanting to burst. Then the window inched open. She was expecting the glass to shatter from the weight of its snowy intent when it didn’t.

Impassive, she was unmoved being used to the male quotient of the species not doing things properly, always coming up short, always exhausting themselves right before the finishing line. The window was open, an empty space glossed between them ready to be bloodied. Winter almost toppled over onto her, blasting its almond breath directly into her face, her face vestal and bare, blowing back her hair, additional cold seeping into her bones. Before she could move to cover herself, faster than she changed her moods, it reached across the open threshold and grabbed her by the back of her neck. Its sharp stick like fingers digging into her nape its thumb squeezing her throat. What- What was it doing? It was being assertive without turn, bruising her skin unnecessarily, hurting her when there was no need, the bastard. She wasn’t caviling in any way, she let the window be opened, didn’t she? What was it thinking? She had been in a charitable mood but this random equation wrecked it . Her pinkness would strangle it now.

It applied more pressure, compressing her throat. She didn’t react at all. She wouldn’t. She wouldn’t let out a gasp. In the end, it had to let go of her; she was colder than it was. But not before it blew its smoke directly into her parted lips, her mouth fixed into a snarl by now.

Two things happened that were written where all the small suns go to die, those elephants in the blue skies,

– she staggered backward sputtering, smoke coming out of her reddened mouth made fresh again, wroth now, vehemently refusing to choke on its fog that tasted of dusk

– careening happily it pitched forward cataracting over the windowsill in a rindle of blued flesh, waterfalling onto her floor and coming to pool beside her bare feet by her design.

She cringed away when it came too near. Then it raised itself belly up like an upturned bug from the congealed heap on its all fours. Interested, she moved a little closer, curious now. It rubbed its hirsute form against her bristled leg mimicking an upside down feline friend grinning up at her. It wormed around her calf, laying its face on her feet, its corrugated touch diffidently light. She shivered in spite of herself, in spite of her vows. It just felt so good to be touched by something nonhuman again, especially one from the verdant mosslands across the glass border. See, she was becoming chaste again by something it said to her just now.

Weaving in and around, in between her legs, chaffing her shins it was trying to rekindle what they once had; it decided on its own they were estranged no more. It was after all this time of the year they had fallen into an easy kinship; last year, every year in every story. It wasn’t until later she realized that like most things their friendship was seasonal too.

In that tipped over position Cheshire cat-ting her a smile this upjumped knight of hers swayed toward where she was bedded down for the night. It could smile all it wanted to, she ain’t following the bastard where it was going, besides that walk of its was only a facsimile of her wrath. She stood near the open window, turning slightly she checked progress it was making. Out of the corner of her eyes, she looked at the sleeping form lying supine on the frayed mattress in that small corner of her night.

She watched Winter spiderwalk on all fours to the stripped feathered mattress on the bare floor. At the foot of the mattress, it flipped on its belly righting itself but nothing was right about the end of this season. Winter slowly crawled in the bed wanting to lie down there with them, all three of them if she decided to join them. It was preparing for its final repose, to catch few winks, to sleep the end of the harvest sleep. She watched silently as it stretched out its body, if it could be called that, to lie down next to the shadowy outline on the bed. It quietly settled in beside her consort though she hasn’t been anyone’s queen in a long time now. It snuggled up to him, she was alarmed by how natural they looked together. It was looking so much at peace lying there beside him, a picture of guiltless perfection of a wintersleep.

She looked at them for a moment, if it wanted to pastiche her emptiness in a bid to belong somewhere, then who was she to deny it her side of the unwarm bed. What space was truly hers anyways other than this night and all the cold in it?

She glanced at the mattress, watched the charade of it sleeping, even enjoying the farce.

Then she looked down at her human lover sleeping blissfully next to an awakened Winter, her expression softening her face relaxing into a smile.

Was she human? She was darkly forested, but was she a forest home to tall trees and the stars? Though the trees were all stripped by the spectacular of now, and all the stars were gone.

All of sudden, she was weary. Added tonnage of all those years finally taking their toll on her, the Age of Herself only exacerbated the matters; her featureless name sure wasn’t helping her. She was just so sick and tired of being an avatar for them. What did she get out of that gig while they worshipped her into animation? She had done more than just dance at their stupid shindigs. Did they build her stone effigies to glorify their faith they didn’t have in her? No, they paid her with sincere sincerity, a currency that was all but useless. On top of that, her spiteful summoners just kept on confusing her with hope. Not her fault, losers, move on. She have had it with them, male, female, and all the other fae in between, she was fed up with them burying their grubby little faces in her songs. Birth of Her Day, all that started with a pen stuck between ink and the paper. What was her return for the services rendered? They left her stranded here this in husk of a place where the night always reigned, where she owned the cold and nothing much less.

Looking at the mattress but not seeing it, she watched the curled up forms and intertwined limbs tangled with something cold catch the dwindling light. She shook a little just then and then she shook it off.

Just

She was so cold, her lungs hurt felt like they were lit with a blaze that only made her colder. Someone was holding her head under water making her breathe down there. Forcing her to eat the ocean, so that it could consume her properly like no wolf ever could. What choice did she have but to succumb, relent into opening her mouth to all that weight of water as the scaly watery hands of her kindred dragged her down to the very bottom.

She couldn’t breathe then. She wouldn’t. Nope.

She was so bitterly cold, she was so undeniably cold, she was so utterly opposed to letting his words warm her. They felt like the sea in her hands. What was the truth but his fiction? His fiction has always been much more heavier than her reality, healthier to imbibe even. Yet she had trouble converting his fictitious realms into her fictional nowheres. Oh what tapestries she could’ve made. Yet he was lacking all the same, she was in need of good fiction. But. But. Her creature needn’t convince her of his words to get her out of her clothes. She’d happily do it for him, and she’d be quick about it too!

It’s just that right now she was freezing. She was an inside out frieze, a raspberry flavored human popsicle. A cold sun was melting, dying on her uncovered body that was covered only in her musk. Her spine was tingling, inflamed. Hades was kissing the entire length of it, his dead lips puckering down whilst her back arched in a happy angle, unnatural but happy. Her thoughts were frosting over. Her misery and shame were numb. Her breath was as blue as her hair. The ugly birthmark on her right cheek shimmering in the satisfied chill like a vicious bruise.

But she was done aching.
She was done waiting for Snow to save her.
She was done lying on her tummy, her face burrowing into the pillow while she offered herself to the iced world. She was done with the forgotten heat encircling her arms tightening its hold, fists furrowing her skin, forgotten heat forgetting she was forbidden. Though she knew and conceded quite frankly that the pleasure of burning was in the taboo.

Of course, no one could beat a song out of her now, for she had maimed the sea.

She was done, she was done, she was done,
done, done, done,

And done once more.

Once upon a time in another story, she wanted to sleep in winter all the time. There were times when she wanted to close her eyes forever. There was a time when she liked sleeping in the cold. Well, not anymore, no. She no longer harbored that smile.

She was the creature from the north, misbegotten forgotten off spring of Odin; his forgiven daughter. Maybe she’d get rid of him, oust the old man and take over. But there was one thing she’d do differently. She’d lay off people, that has been Odin’s undoing. She neither wanted nor demanded their reverence. Abstinence from the pious would be her becoming; so she became her becoming. People were messy. They had a tendency to believe in their own make belief. That was okay for writahs they have to believe in it to make it, but not so much for the gullible citizenry. Plus, writers didn’t know any better. But people, man, they always find a way to divide themselves. She was still not used to them, but she suspected by the time she was through here she’d be well versed in them. Unless she opted not to.

She turned all the way around this time leaning back against the open window, her hair blowing around her shoulders, swelling in the breeze. She surveyed the room, her hands behind her back supporting her teetering frame as she titled back and forth on the balls of her feet.

Her fingers digging in the sill brushed something lightly. She stilled herself, her feet coming to a stop. A touch of metal it felt like to her. Her hands itched to hold the metal flowers again, her fingers wanting to spread them into abeyance . She fumbled a little, her hand closing around a slim object, she felt herself picking it up. Wringing her arms around, she held it front of her. She was looking at a very decorative straight razor. Well, she was hoping it was something homelike she could use. She turned the razor around in her hand, it didn’t look like it was one of his. Must have left behind by one of her other lovers, swains she lost to the frost that bit them into oblivion. She flicked it open; she immediately liked its shine, it was so well polished Sweeney might have shined the blade himself. The blade was naive, fresh, young enough to forge a world, or forage it for excuses to destroy it. She turned it as a sliver of mature moonlight, a single arch of full moon caught the blade making it sing, it making it hungrier. She tapped the razor on her jaw, thinking, thinking it over carefully. Dodging cats and fighting irrelevancies, she just couldn’t afford to think about spring anymore. Look, hey she was into the origin stories as much as the next flailing fangirl, and she wanted to be a hero she really did, but she was out, done for. Forced to be in the open no longer hiding in the light, she wasn’t making monsters anymore. She was an Origin Story. Good thing she wasn’t desirous of a brood of her own, or she had to suffer watching her kids witnessing her turning into a monster. She couldn’t be one, either a hero or a monster, she couldn’t pick up dead swallows, poor birds.

And let’s not forget, heroes are blind and she saw too much.
She was on the fence about this but she knew which side of it she’s gonna be jumping on. She took in the attic again. Nothing’s ever gonna thaw in here. She wasn’t going to liquify become a condensation where she was. She wasn’t making a dent upon the world that was given to her. At least in her ruined night lands, her body wouldn’t betray her to the ravages of a serial murderer known as time. It wasn’t much but it was something. She was all she got.

She deigned to look down at him one last time sleeping there without her and still not unhappy. Sleeping on his back while Winter lay there curled up still beside him chuckling softly to itself, she was sure it wanted to wrap itself around his body, poke him or something but it was clearly hesitant….. because of her, that she still had power surprised her. She looked at the man beside Winter. But in her benighted imaginations where the snowflakes were still aswirl, she was seeing him lying face down in the frozen ground, the color of his blood dyeing the snow. In that nighted vision, he was as naked as she was but in that retelling, she’d have on her steampunk goggles, she’d be wearing her Mad Hatter hat. Her hair were molten there, turning a shade of burnt orange. She was tipping her Mad Hatter hat at him in her mind, smiling . She saw that he saw her doing that in his dream. And she was gleeful, standing over his naked defeat in her Mad Hatter hat, happy, her steampunk goggles resting over her brow enjoying his colors decorate snow, loving it, with designs that were after her own heart.

She held the razor in her hand, still perusing it until its designs started moving around, the filigree on the shank started to crawl. She rubbed her thumb on the tang, still deciding. What to do, what to do. Then abruptly she jolted making her move, she took the singing blade, starving now, to the feathered mattress.

Winter’s eyes snapped open; it yanked out of its fugue state of pretend sleep just as her eager shadows fell upon them. It took one look at face and fled, running pell mell to get away from her. Abandoning its quick squeeze in its haste. She had to choke back her laughter, mirthless as it was she throttled the hell out of it. She knew Winter wanted to squeeze her and unknown parts of her at least once before leaving again, but it should have chosen whom to squeeze first more carefully, shouldn’t it?

She held the straight razor by her side, resting its spine on her thigh. It was lying open between her fingers now; she was rolling its neck between her forefinger and her thumb. She guessed she wasn’t through cutting things after all. Welcome to my Wonderland, she lobbed the thought at the man still sleeping on her bed, in her world, in a world he gave her. What were they thinking arming her? Arm her and she would revolt, it was in the nature of her cold.

Looking at him, she felt like jumping on the mattress, keep bouncing until she bounced into happiness, become a lost girl albeit one that didn’t need a confused boy to teach her how to fly. But she couldn’t risk waking him up. He’d never be privy to her thoughts ever again, her mind her own temple now and all that. And besides, she wanted him to feel every inch of the blade in his sleep, she wanted to cut his despair in his dreams. Rip him to shreds like she would have been massacred, ripped apart, every time she’d birth for him a shoddy world. You should have written better fiction, she thought angrily at him, you should have given me a happier world. But he didn’t flinch from her thoughts. Kept sleeping happily.

She accepted now what she was. And. Cold was so pleasurable, everything around her was feeling drowsy, but she was exempt from sleep. From now out she’s gonna be awake forever and Winter’s gonna sleep in her stead.

She looked at him again. She loved her creature but she didn’t like him. And now she was curious about the color of his blood. It was just so cold in here. She felt strange things when she was cold. She rippled toward the sleeping form that was about to become even more strangely beautiful, the gleam of her hand giving her away, the bare mattress creaking with her weight and her eyes glowering bluer with the fiction of her.
She wanted more now. She wanted something else.

Mea Culpa, she thought. But I am not seeking forgiveness because it’s so cold. I am coming. I am staying. I am freezing. I’m a linguist. I’m dead tired. I am winter.

This was far from over, she had lots to redress. Other places not to be. She had many miles to go. She had other farewells yet to be said.

She was winter now.
And after all winter was the ritual of her failure.

But sometimes, sometimes the cold was too much.

This exquisite piece of literature is woven by Asghar Abbas, the author of Beyond Desire

Read the original post here

Art by Shadia Alem, ‘Beyond’ 1993

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