Originally posted 2016-01-15 17:00:36.
Winter is insidious. No matter what you do, it creeps in, past windows and doors, seemingly through walls and floors, and finds its way to you. When the wind blows, and you hear it outside howling like a hungry beast, you understand the Algonquian stories of Wendigo. And a new chill enters you, more than just the cold of the body.
I huddled inside my home. Well, what I called my home. At one time my home was great, a warm place of light and warmth, welcoming to all who came to my door. There was food and drink to offer to my guests, and laughter to block the howl of the voracious winter. That was before, when I was a different person.
A mere shell of the home I once had, it still was shelter from the angry predator that is the night of the year. It wasn’t much of one, but it was better than nothing at all. The chill of the weather crept past the chinks and cracks, a thief of warmth, robbing my home piece by piece of life-keeping warmth. Like rats seeking morsels of dropped food, it takes the crumbs bit by bit, not caring that the crumbs may be all you have.
I rubbed my hands together to warm them a bit, bringing a bit of life back. So much had changed. Everything that brought me that warmth in my old life was long gone. My partner, my children, my friends and loved ones. All gone. Gone to the night, gone to the winter. No fire burned any longer in a hearth or even in my heart. Just coals banked against the deepest part before dawn came around. I bowed my head into my hands and bit back the pain.
The hungry winter night didn’t care about my pain.
I had myself composed, and was raising my head when I heard it. The howl. It was more than just the wind whipping past the meager walls of my home. There was an even deeper, hungrier note to it. The winter cold was coming for warmth, to feed. It was coming for the last sparks of life kindled against the deepest of darkness.
I raised my head fully and felt a flame kindle in my belly despite the cold. If it was coming for me, I would fight the voracious winter cold. My hand curled around itself in resolve.
And another howl joined the first, curling around my spine. And another. And another.
And I shook.