That Day In Winter

The entire, “That Day In Winter” short story collected into a single post for convenience sake.

“Hey, have I ever told you why I loved winter?”

The man’s voice resounded within the room, as his breath dampened the clear window. Outside, he could see blankets of white, while tiny droplets of snow were falling from the sky. The trees were covered in snow, and the weight of it made some branches droop low. As he sat at the window, with his arms outstretched to his knees, he took a deep breath and let it out, watching as his breath hit the window and disappear. Watching, as the outside white, remained a still image.

“Why you love winter?” The woman beside him spoke up in a curious manner. Her dark silky hair hung low behind her, well kept. Her eyes were wide and green, like emeralds in the sun, they drew him in. Her lips were a velvet red, and her expression was solemn as she slumped her head over her knees. She was wearing bed attire, as per the norm when waking up. In fact, the man had only just woken up a few minutes ago himself, and asked the question when noticing her entry.

The man looked up, with his hand touching the cold window, like he wanted to reach out towards the outside.

“Yeah. There are a couple of reasons.”

“Oh?” The woman perked up. Her mouth was small, and curled up when she was interested.

“Well, first of all, I like it better than summer.”

“What does that tell me?” The man laughed.

“I mean, If I had the choice to be hot or cold, I would choose cold.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Don’t you ever get that feeling in summer when you’re sweating because of the heat, and all that sweat makes your shirt stick to you? That’s the worst feeling.”

“You sound just like a kid.” The woman giggled and looked closely at the man, her eyes were fixated.

“But it’s the truth. I would rather be bundled up and stay warm then let loose and stay cool. I mean, staying warm is just….. there’s a certain feeling to it you know. It makes you…. fuzzy.”

“You really are a kid.” The woman laughed.

“Hey!”

“But I agree.”

“As for my second reason,” The woman looked up, as if she just remembered that the point of the conversation were to list off the reasons why the man preferred winter.

“The fact that everything sparkles.” The man looked outside wistfully as he finished, while the woman agreed with no qualms.

“It really is pretty.” The man cleared his throat, and brought his hands up to the window, but his expression was one of remorse. His hands slid down the window, and curled up into a fist, as if he were staving something off.  The woman looked worriedly at him, but soon enough, the man brought his arms back to his knees and kicked back so that he were now facing the ceiling. With his arms reaching towards the ceiling, he finished off his list, “The last reason why I love winter, is because of that day.”

“That day?” The woman asked.

“Yeah. I’ve never told you before, in fact. I’ve never told anyone before,” The man’s eyes narrowed, it was as if he could peer into those days he lost, those days that he would never forget. His hand, that was outstretched to the ceiling, were now weak and limp to his side, stretched out like he was making a snow angel. The woman turned, and brought her back to the window, and faced the man.

“I’ve never told anyone that story, about how I met her on that day in winter.” The woman stayed silent.

“I think I was about ten. Do you remember when we visited my hometown during the summer?”  The woman nodded.

“It was there that I met her. That was the first time I ever met a person that I was so absorbed in. She was also the only person I had on my mind when I had to leave for my father’s work. I left her there, along with the rest of my memories of that place.  I wasn’t sad at first, I didn’t have much friends there to begin with. I was actually happy. But when I met her, I don’t think I could ever say the same thing again. I wanted her to know. To know that she was my first real friend. I wanted her to know just how much she saved me on that day in winter.”

“Can you tell me more about that girl?” The woman perked her head up at the man, with a small smile on her face. The man got up, and faced the woman, before he could open his mouth, he couldn’t help but smile himself as well. He looked around the room, and began scratching his head before crossing his legs and sighing.

“It all started with me.”

Part 2

When I was a kid, I was pretty lonely. You know, now that I’m older, I think most kids are like that. They were lonely. Even if they may have a lot of friends, it doesn’t matter. Most kids, are lonely. And it may seem weird for me to give that kind of assumption without anything backing me, but I’ll just say that I’m a living example.

I wasn’t that outlandish either, you know. I was just a regular kid I guess. I liked playing sports with my friends, I talked about action figures and heroes and I did what I was asked to by the teachers. The only problem was that I was just that much more aggressive when it came to bullies. I said I wasn’t outlandish, but I only hid that part of me. Most people just saw me as a regular guy that anyone could get along with. And it wasn’t until later that I soon started scaring others.

I think it all started one day when I was playing in the sandbox. I was alone making a sand castle, it was a school day, the sun was shining brightly, and the sky was cloudless. I was minding my own business, but of course, that didn’t mean that if something happened that I wouldn’t notice. There was one other kid with me in the sandbox, I didn’t really know him or anything, but he was there doing his own thing. He had glasses. I don’t know if I should call him a nerd or a geek or something, but I think he was reading a book as well.

“Ah!” Those were the words that caught my attention. They were loud, and stung the air. I turned my little head towards the direction of the voice, and noticed that same kid with glasses being surrounded by five older guys. They were probably a year older than us, and although not all of them looked that scary, five of them together definitely were. The kid with glasses just sat there, looking up in terror as the five kids shadowed over him. The only thing that was running through my mind when I saw that scene was that something needed to be done. Remember how I was making my sandcastle? I had a shovel, and a bucket. I think I threw the bucket first. It hit his head pretty hard I think since he jerked back and gave me this nasty look. I then got a scoop of sand from my shovel and shoved it in his direction, hoping that I would get the rest as well. I was a dumb kid weren’t I? The bucket would have been way more effective. At this point, the kids started yelling at me.

Before I knew it, I was in a rumble with five older kids. I lost, and I got pretty beaten up because of it, but at least the kid with the glasses was fine, right? Well, he left that day, after I got roughed up by those bullies. But it was the next day that really made me become who I was. The kid with the glasses showed up again, and there I was with all my bandages and what not. The bullies weren’t here today, so I went up to the kid.

“Hey!” The kid ignored me.

“Hey you listening?” The kid looked up at what he was doing, his eyes were piercing. I think at that point I got a bit agitated.

“What’s your problem? I helped you!”

“Don’t get involved.”

“What?”

“I said, don’t get involved!” My kid self was honestly surprised. But at the same time, I think I was more angry than anything. I grabbed the kid by his shoulders.

“What do you mean!?”

“Don’t you get it?”

“Huh?”

“They thought that you were protecting me.”

“So what?”

“Now they’re just going to try harder on me!”

“What?” I didn’t believe it. It sounded like complete lies to me, it made no sense at the time. But I began witnessing it. Over time, as I lived out those silent days, I began noticing it. Those five bullies, they attacked the kid with glasses even more than before. I even overheard them one time.

“Not so tough without your friend are you?” At that moment, I realized just how much my actions meant. Just how useless a person can be. And just how hopeless I was. I began hearing rumors as well, people were avoiding me, they thought I was scary, that if they hung out with me, that they would only be hurt. I couldn’t understand why, I didn’t want to. I think at that time, I began losing some of my friends as well, and the people that remained my friends, were just doing it out of pity.

I was a lonely person back then, you see. All I wanted to do was help him out, but all I did was make things worse. And I never bothered to fix any of the misunderstandings either, I just remained quiet. I remained quiet and let it all come at me. I wonder what kind of a person I had to be, to let all those things be said to me, and not do anything. I really was pathetic weren’t I?

But since I was a kid, I didn’t really have any deep feelings about anything that was going on. The only thing I understood, was that people were isolating me, and that I couldn’t do anything about it. I was being treated like an outcast, and soon enough, I got used to it. You know, that’s the scariest part. Once you get used to it. It’s like you’ve given up, like you’re saying to the world to do away with you. At that time, that was probably what was going on in my head. I wanted the world to just whisk me away.

I wanted to be alone.

Part 3

Eventually, time moved on. But I didn’t. I was still the same old pathetic lonely kid. Time had moved on so much, that it felt like I was being swept away. You know what? I used to hate winter. You know, my mother was so protective of me. During the summer, I was smeared in sunscreen. And during the winter, I was so tuckered up I couldn’t even move.

I woke up on that faithful day and stared out the window to be amazed nonetheless. Whether it was when I was ten, or now, I’m still speechless whenever I see that field of white. My eyes and mouth must have been so wide when I saw that field, it really was beautiful back there. Sometimes, I wish I could go back, just go back in the winter, and wait.

On that day, I was probably geared up to go mountain climbing, I really could barely move, but luckily my father chimed in and noted that it wasn’t that cold. Well, it was still cold, but not cold enough for me to be a walking fur coat. So, with my mother’s consent, I was finally able to go outside and play. I wore a normal jacket, some mittens, and this really bright red scarf that my mother knitted for me.

At the time, I didn’t really expect anyone to play with me. They were probably all at home anyway. I went out near the school to a spot I knew that had this huge grass field that was usual off limits during school time. This was my own domain, I was the only person here, and the only thing for as far as my kid eyes could see were blankets of snow. I think the first thing I did when I ran down that hill was jump out and  land in the snow face first. I was making a snow angel while my face got buried in snow, and once I got up and wiped myself off, I remember laughing. I was truly happy at that moment. But then, as I looked around, and noticed that I was the only one on the field, I started feeling a little lonely again. Sure I was laughing pretty happily in one moment. But I think I realized that it wasn’t that fun without someone to share that laughter with. I began getting sad again, and I simply looked up and watched the snow fall. I don’t know how long I must have stared at the sky, but I remember that it hardly moved under my breath.

Sooner or later, I would get back into action. I started off with a small snowball. I grabbed it tight, and made sure that it didn’t break. Then, slowly but surely, I started rolling it. Before I knew it, it was huge.  Just as I almost had the body of the snowman ready, I began hearing crunching behind me. There was a lot of crunching. I turned, to see five boys creep up on me. Before I could do anything, one of them had already circled around and kicked down my snowman.  Although the snowball itself was already badly crushed, he just kept stomping on it. He kept stomping, and stomping, until even the pieces of the snowball were no longer present; until only a mound of random snow was present. During that whole experience, the only thing I could do was watch in terror as the kid crushed my hard work under his feet, and listen to the laughter of the other boys. After they were done ruining my snowman, one of the kids pushed me into the snow and stood towering over me.

“You’re just a little kid.” I think I found that funny at the time.

“Not going to fight back?” I swallowed my pride and just sat there in the snow. They didn’t do anything else after that, they just sneered at me and went about their little way. I picked myself up and looked at the pile of snow that used to be my snowman. I felt like starting again, but something about that thought made me shutter, so I ended up leaving it.

I remember breathing into my cupped hands, watching as my breath hit my hands. It was lonely again. I probably didn’t feel like doing anything more at that point. Those five kids kind of just ruined it for me for the rest of the day, so I turned and decided to make my way back.  I decided that it wasn’t worth the trouble to just walk alone in the snow all the way back to my house, so I decided to take a shortcut. Except, it wasn’t much a shortcut than another route that I never really took and didn’t know my way around; and so I got lost.

And eventually, while I was making my way around this new route, with no idea of how to get back or where to go, my mind went crazy. The feelings of loneliness surrounded me.

“There was no one here. No one was going to come find me. I’m all alone.” I couldn’t stand it anymore, and so I simply went on my knees. I felt like crying, I felt like screaming, but even then, I knew, that no one was going to be there for me. At that moment, I just wanted to disappear, I just wanted to be left alone.

But then, she came.  She came before I even realized it. Before I could even imagine what was going on, it was already happening. I didn’t believe what I was seeing before my eyes. It was a girl, I later found out that she was the same age as me. She had golden hair, to my eyes, they were shining brightly in the snow, almost blindingly.  It was flowing behind her, long but dignified. Her eyes were staring right at me, but…. for some reason I just can’t remember them that well.  All I remember were her eyes were wide with surprise, and happiness for some reason. She smiled at me, with her head to the side, almost as if not knowing what to do with who she found. I thought she was a foreigner or something, but surprisingly, she wasn’t.

“Hello?” Her accent was clear, and her voice was soothing. It was a person’s voice, a girl no less. I think my little heart couldn’t stop beating, I didn’t know what was going on. I still don’t. I tried to answer her back, but the only thing that I could muster, was a sad excuse of a word. I ended up not talking, but she continued.

“What are you doing out here? It’s cold you know, if you stay like that, you’ll definitely catch a cold.” She wasn’t that bundled up herself. Her winter wear was actually quite light in fact, so I was quite surprised when she told me that. The only thing that brought me back to reality, was when she bent over to give me her hand, “Come on.” I accepted and once I got pulled up, confirming it was an actual person and not my imagination, I felt my voice coming back to me.

“What’s your name?” I gave her my name, but I couldn’t remember hers, despite her giving it to me. I asked her, “Hey, why are you here?” She looked up to me, almost confusingly at my question. But she answered anyway.

“I was just taking a walk. But you still haven’t answered me you know.” She gave me a cute little pout that caught me off guard.

“I was….. I got lost.” She looked at me with wide eyes.

“Lost?”

“Yeah, I was trying to get home.”

“You don’t know how to get home?” She was honestly confused, an innocence that I just couldn’t do anything about.

“No, I know how to get home, it was just….” I didn’t want to say that I was just using this path because I thought it was a shortcut but ended up not knowing my way around. But I ended up going with that anyway, and she laughed.

“You’re so silly!” Her smile gave me a little warmth, despite the harsh winter day. I couldn’t help but smile back.

“Hey, want to go somewhere?” I didn’t know how to respond to her question, but I thought that I wouldn’t mind, since I wasn’t alone anymore, so I accepted. If not for her, I definitely wouldn’t have found my way home that day. I really had no idea where I was going, or where I was. Eventually, where that girl would take me, was somewhere that I never expected.  Before my eyes, as we looked on top of a hill, was a blanket of snow that stretched all the way to the ocean. I could hear the low tides sweeping in and saw the beautiful reflection in the water. It was some kind of beach shore, I thought. But that wasn’t all she wanted to show me. She grabbed my hand, “Come on!” It was different from when she was just picking me up, her hand this time felt more human for some reason. Like she was accepting me. Despite my mittens, her hands still exuded a permanence of warmth. I didn’t know where she was dragging me, but eventually, I began putting everything in my head. She grabbed something from a nearby bush. It was a tiny little sled that she had hidden.

“My sister would never let me do this,” She said with a smile.

“So don’t tell her, okay?” I just couldn’t brisk away that innocent smile. Without further need of words, we both got on the sled, she took the lead, but even then I was still wary.

“Are you sure we should be doing this?” She looked at me with another one of her signature smiles, this time, with a little bit more smug.

“Are you scared?”

“Me?” I didn’t want to admit it, but the hill looked pretty steep to me. Nevertheless, I swallowed my pride and just shook my head.

“Good, then, let’s go!” With that, we began sliding down the hill. I felt scared out of my mind at first, the wind blew into my face, cold waves were sent through my body. But as we kept going, I eventually stopped caring. I was having fun. It was actually fun. The girl in front of me kept laughing the whole way, with her arms up into the sky. And I couldn’t blame her. I eventually joined in. As we hit the bottom of the hill, my head was still spinning from the exhilaration. I had so much fun that I almost forgot that I was with her. But when I looked at her face, the only thing I could see was sadness.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” She looked like she was about to cry. I didn’t know why, and so I went into a panic, thinking of anything I could do to calm her. And the only thing I could do, was take off my bright red scarf, and wrap it around her. She looked up at me, surprised once again.

“I just….. didn’t want to see you cry.” She looked down at my scarf, and placed her hands over it. She smiled, a smile filled with sadness, but, it was a beautiful smile. She smiled with her eyes and her mouth, and I think the thing that made me fall for her, was the fact that her smile, was so contagious.

“Thank you. But, it’s okay.” She took off my scarf and handed it back to me.

“It’s a really nice scarf.”

“Yeah, my mom made it.” I took it back, and after gathering the sled and hiding it back in that bush, we decided to head back. For the duration of the time we spent during that walk, we never talked. I was just too nervous to say anything and she….. didn’t seem like she wanted to. But, I mustered up the courage, just as we finally came back to that field that I was so familiar with.

“Will you be here tomorrow?” That was the only thing I could say. Nothing more came from my mouth. Nothing could. That was the last chance I had to say anything else. And, she never answered me. Instead, she gave me a weak smile, and simply ran off, before I had the chance. I really didn’t know what was going on through her head. Why she was there, why she decided to help me up and play with me. I didn’t know. But I think at that moment, as she ran off, with her eyes on the verge of tears, with her sweet smile trailing off behind her, I think at that moment, I was in love.

Part 4:

It wasn’t until the next day, that I really figured out what was going on. No matter how much I didn’t want to accept reality,  I knew it wasn’t going to change because of me. I knew it, but I screamed anyway. I screamed, I cried, and I regretted. I regret not being able to tell her. I still don’t know where she is, or if she even is. But if I meet her again one day, I’ll tell her. I’ll tell her properly this time.

The next day, when I went back to that shortcut, instead of her, I met another person. She was dragging a sled with her, the sled we used. She was really tall, her hair was cut short, and I remember her as being an adult. Her hair was the same color, so was her eyes. I wasn’t scared, rather, I was confused. When she noticed me, she had a look of worry, and pity. I wanted to ask her something, about the girl I met. Whether she knew about it or not. And so I did.

“Oh…. so you were the one she was talking about.” It looks like she knew about me.

“Unfortunately…” She crouched, to get to the same eye height as me. It was a move that a lot of kind adults did, so that I wouldn’t have to look up, and so that they wouldn’t have to look down on me. They made it clear that we were talking on the same length, that we were both equal on the matter. Except, I don’t think I wanted to be.

“You won’t be able to see her anymore.”

“What do you mean, miss?”

“Well,” I could see in her eyes that she was trying to pick out the right words. She was trying to make sure I could understand the situation.  Even if I did at the time, I really didn’t.

“You see, she’s at the hospital right now.”

“Hospital?” Her sister explained to me how the girl I met was ill. She was almost terminally ill, and the doctors were working really hard to see what they could do. Day in and day out, they were working to save her life. Yesterday, however, was the one day where her condition actually saw some progress. She actually wasn’t allowed out, but she snuck out anyway. She snuck out because she wanted to take the sled down the hill. Her sister had hid the sled for them to use when she got better, but she couldn’t wait. Thinking back, I’m still amazed at how she snuck out, but, maybe I should have noticed.  I was the only one there, I could have stopped her, but I didn’t. She seemed so happy, like nothing could make her sad, until the realization that she wouldn’t be able to come here anymore because of her condition.  I don’t know how she thought of me. Maybe I was just an add-on, someone who was just there where she was. But to me, she was everything. At the height of my loneliness, where I had previously given up, I saw light. I saw her, and she called out to me. Maybe, she could have just left me, watched as I sat there in the snow, watched as I fell to my lonely temptations. But she didn’t. And I’m glad she didn’t. I’m glad she stuck her hand out to me. I’m glad, for that day in winter.

Ever since that day, I’ve realized just how stupid I was, and just how weak I was being. Ever since then, I’ve tried being stronger, I tried to make friends, I apologized, and I sought on. Because, ever since that day, I couldn’t help but think about how much that girl did for me, despite everything happening to her. I couldn’t let her kindness waste away. No, I didn’t let it waste away.

Her sister told me that they were going to move away soon because of her condition. Whether she was going to be okay or not, was all up to luck. The excursion she had took more out of her than she realized, but thankfully it didn’t worsen her condition that much. Her sister really was worried, but she didn’t scold me. Instead, she thanked me, for playing with her that day. Despite me not being able to see her, I’ve always wished that she would come back to that town, even if it was only for a day, even if we would only sled down that one hill, I’ve always hoped for it. But I moved, and I would never know if she returned; If she returned to that hill, to see the ocean, to go down that hill once more.

I told her sister to tell her one thing, and I still regret  not being able to tell her in person, but I thought at that time that I couldn’t do anything about it. That was my only way. I told her sister to tell her, “Thank you for saving me. I had a lot of fun. ” I took off my scarf, and handed it to the sister, and told her to give it to her as a gift, and to tell her one more thing, “My mom was happy when you said her scarf was nice.” I smiled at her, then ran back to my house, without looking back. Only looking now, forward, towards the future, kicking away my past, shoving it into the snow.

Part 5:

“And that’s why I love winter. ” As the man finished his story, he got up and stretched his body. He walked up towards the window and placed his hand over it, a feeling of longing stretched out to his fingers. The woman got up as well, and leaned over him, her warm body stuck onto his shoulder. For a moment, they didn’t speak, but soon the woman broke the silence.

“Well, to be honest, I love winter as well.”

“Oh?”

“Believe it or not.”

“So, what are your reasons?”

“I have three of them.” The woman stepped back from the man and gave him a mischievous smile. She took three fingers out.

“One: I also like winter better than summer.” She took one finger down.

“Two:  I also like winter because everything sparkles.” She was down to her last finger, and her smile grew wider and wider with each reason. The man almost thought of it as teasing as all her reasons so far were identical to his. But surely, the last reason couldn’t be the same as his, he thought. There was no way, just no way that was possible. But the woman simply smiled her brightest, her smile warming the room, and her smile didn’t falter.

“Three: the last reason why I love winter, is because, it brings people back together.” She brought both of her arms behind her and gave him another big smile. The man was confused, and so he asked.

“What do you mean?” The woman thought of her response. She was feeling a little mean, and wanted to tease the man for not knowing. She stood straight up and turned her body around, only leaning her head over slightly, so that the man would barely see her face.

“That’s a secret!”

“Hey! That’s not fair, I told you about my story.” The woman made a small pout on her face, and then giggled.

“Winter brings people together, it brings back memories, and it brings back feelings of warmth. Despite being so cold, winter brings the most warmth to us. Winter is a special season. It’s a season  of love, of youth, and of nostalgia. I love winter because I’ll always remember that day in that town, where I met a boy,” The woman turned fully before finishing her sentence.

“Who was shivering in the snow.”

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