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To Die Like Fires' Embers
Snow creeped upon the land, consuming all living life with it’s cold touch, and anything that were to beat a single heartbeat couldn't withstand the breath of Winter. It was the coldest ever known to man, and in the valley, temperatures plummeted, nearing sixty below. And what was left in winter’s path, was death; an end to life. Humans, though are tough and resilient, passed through winter easily, a few may find their lives overrun by a simple chill.
A house stands alone, far from civilization in the valley. It’s eerie walls lost it’s color and windows have been barricaded to make the cold feel un-welcomed. Smoke gently streams through the tiny chimney; not enough to stand up against the cold. And to what surprise, a mother and her son trapped within, smart enough to stay within it’s prison like walls.
The mother never fell asleep during the night. She was still worried about husband who had long adventured through the wilderness to bring back food.
How long was it? she wondered. She had not been counting the days. Her empty stomach screamed in pain, not letting her focus. It’s only been a little bit, she reassured herself. she looked at the fire. There was no true fire, just the last of their warmth, their embers dying. She felt as she was dying with them. She almost smiled at the thought. Escaping to the sky would be brilliant! I would be free! If only I was a dying ember!
She had to control herself, for she fell almost to tears. She wasn’t going to die as fast as the ember.
She sat in a small stool, her bare feet against the cold stone. She wrapped everything she had around her precious child, who now laid near the fire on the bed. She thought about her husband again. He was definitely acting strange when he had left. Rushed away pretty fast, and with sadness in his blue eyes. Or were they brown? It was their son, she remembered. He nearly screamed when he saw their son in her hands asleep. He overreacted, that’s all. Must have rushed out to get more food. Johnny was looking very thin. Her memory was foggy, but her mind filled in the blanks. Why would her mind ever deceive her?
She stood up and felt the cold shoot through her in a paralyzing way. She had no socks and her shoes were used as kindle. She looked around for something to wrap her feet. She spotted the baby near the fire, his face still sickly thin. She felt mad and jealous; that child must be so warm and she was left to bear the cold. So spoiled!!! She wanted to yell. But a small memory came back to her. Phillip?John? She much liked the name Benjamin. Benjamin was her beautiful child. He was to grow up and be a doctor. Won’t he be the ladies man.
Her husband certainly was.Only once she hated the words that came out of his mouth. She remembered a story he once told, of a magnificent ship that fell prey to an ice burg. Her husband claimed the true heroes were the musicians on board. They played to ease the passengers; to help them accept death. The mother wondered what a big toll that must have settled on their hearts. To trick the people to just accept “giving up” is horrible! The people could have tried to escape! Her husband said they couldn't escape, that they would have been choosing death still. Playing their violins was all they had left.
A horrid story, she would say. And she thought and thought how grateful she was that it was just a story. Or was it? She shook her head and knew that anything like that would not be true. She would know.
She sat back on the small stool. She thought about why the windows were barricaded. Need to take those down? The beautiful trees and flowers would be such a lovely sight!
She looked back at her child and thought, what a good baby! I don’t remember you ever crying. Such a good baby! She felt an overwhelming sadness, but she didn’t know what it was for. If the story about the violinists were true, she almost agreed with her husband. The violinists kept playing to ease the passengers and, she thought, to ease themselves. The mother began crying. She remembered everything clearly now but her mind soon became foggy and a quiet, sad violin song played in the back of her head. She accepted it, even welcoming to plague her mind. It was her death, and she didn’t care, as long as she felt at ease. If that story about the violinists was true, she definitely felt like them. But what did she give up on? It certainly was not on life she thought. She had all the time in the world to keep on living. Whatever it was she didn’t care. She felt calm and happy. Her mind created her a world and she couldn’t remember why she was thinking about a violin song. Her attention went back to the windows and she wondered why they were covered. She thought and thought and then her mind told her.
“Don’t worry,” she spoke to her child, “Papa will be here soon. Don’t you worry.”