Today I’m going to try something new. Being a writer, having this blog, I tend to post about a lot of random things. Interviews, opinion pieces, stories from my childhood. However – there’s something I haven’t done yet, which is really weird considering I’m a writer – and that is to share a fictional story.
What to share, though? Well, aside from creating something on the spot (which is something I’ve been thinking about doing every once in a while as a writing prompt), I have decided to post a little piece of flash I titled Snowflake. It’s a story about death, about acceptance, about struggle. I tried to convey a lot of things in a short amount of space – so I hope you like it. Let me know what you think in the comments. Anyway, here we go.
The sallow man squints up into charcoal sky, breath curling from his cracked lips and rising into nothingness. Snowflakes, large and crystalline, lilt along on cold bursts of air before coming to rest on his eyelashes. He doesn’t blink.
He takes in a deep breath, the cold air rolling past his teeth and over his tongue like ice water. He shuts his eyes, feeling the flakes collide with his skin, hearing their light pattering on the fabric of his winter jacket as all around him the world is blanketed in silence and white.
His bottom lip quivers. A tear rolls down his cheek from the corner of his left eye, sinking somewhere into the collar of his sweater, leaving a whip of cold on his face. Light, pathetic sobs escape his lungs as his frame shakes.
He feels the weight in his front right jacket pocket, the metal absorbing the cold air and growing colder with each passing moment. He doesn’t bother wiping his eyes. His vision blurred, the street lamp above becomes fuzzy-bright.
His face is curled up, his breathing and sobbing becoming more erratic. Hyperventilating. He doesn’t recall ever crying like this. He has no control of the long release of anguish coming from his diaphragm in broken bleats.
In his pocket his thumb finds the hammer and he shakily flicks it back.
“Hey, man,” comes a woman’s voice from behind. He almost doesn’t hear it. “You got a light?”
The man, still sobbing, lets go of the gun in his pocket and tries to wipe the tears and snot from his face before turning. Rather than reply, he simply shakes his head.
“No worries, not too many people smoke around here anymore. Figured I’d ask.”
Silence, aside from some nose sniffling.
“Hey, you okay?”
“Leave me alone. Please,” the man says. His teeth chatter and make his words come clacking out.
“Name’s Charlie,” says the woman. “What’re you doing out here in the storm?”
Silence. He turns to face her. Brown eyes, freckles, dark hair. He knows that his own eyes are puffy and ringed with red but he doesn’t care. His bottom lip trembles again when she makes eye contact with him. Their breath mingles in the void between them. She holds an unlit cigarette in her left hand, rolling it between callused fingers. She looks at him and her eyes flit to his front pocket where the bulge of his gun is evident and then back to meet his gaze. He sees something there he recognizes.
“Why do you want to do it?” Her voice is like a snowflake, carried on the cold to rest in his ear, lilting, but holding a soft edge.
He begins to cry again, unable to hold it in, dropping to one knee in the cold white powder in front of the stranger.
“Never mind,” she says. She places a hand on his back. He doesn’t recoil. “It doesn’t matter.” She lifts up the sleeve on her left hand. There are deep scars across her pale flesh. “Doesn’t much matter what I say. I know that.”
She slides the cigarette in between his trembling lips as he watches her, confused. She flashes him a sad smile and walks away. He watches her go, never rising from the powder.
Charlie walks for what seems like miles before she hears the crack of a gunshot across the still of the night. She walks three flights up some snow-dusted steps and unlocks the door to her apartment, closing it behind her, shutting out the cold.