The International Writers Magazine:Dreamscapes
thought that her voice was full of stars.
The December wind whipped his cheeks and lashed his ears so that
he thought it might draw blood. His hands were no longer his;
they belonged to some wizened, gnarly old man with crusty knuckles.
Like a turtle, he tucked his head down further into the fluffiness
of his scarf. He coughed.
Alice was gripping
the metal bars of the fairground gate, looking in wistfully at the hibernating
machinery, her nose bright red, her lips slightly cracked, her scalp
and ears kept snug by a dark purple cotton hat, which she occasionally
tugged at to cover the back of her head more and more. She was one of
those girls complimented by winter; her ivory face shone like ice with
both cheeks absurdly, adorably red, her green eyes had added depths
when they looked out through rain or snow, and the fact that her hair
wouldnt stay curled properly didnt matter in frenzied weather
conditions- when hanging straight and spilling down the hood of her
coat, it looked like glass that had somehow trapped shadows within its
James let her image envelop him. His limbs heated. She was still talking,
but she was too far away and her words were stolen from him by the greedy
wind. He thought that her voice was full of sunrays that danced on the
surface of the sea.
Eventually Alice let go of the gate and walked to his side. She smiled
and rubbed her gloved hands over his numb ears, her playful roughness
making him yelp and grin back at her.
"Sorry this was a stupid idea, wed better head off before
you catch pneumonia."
"Arent you freezing?" James asked.
"Snug as a bug." She linked her arm with his, squeezing him
with her elbow joint and patting his lower arm with her free hand, attempting
to transfer heat. As they strolled, it was as if winter had fallen away,
and there was no kind of weather or atmosphere or planet at all, just
the air they breathed in and out like clouds, and the closed pier behind
them, and the warm house awaiting them.
"Nice day for a walk."
"I think so. You didnt have to come!"
"And miss this nostalgic trip to the seaside? Never!"
"Stop teasing. Its a beautiful day, look at that sky. And
the sea, I love it when its so choppy and foamy. We dont
have to come again now until spring, I just wanted to see it once more
before everyone goes home."
"I guess its quite a festive activity." James let out
a heavy sigh, and glanced to his right, at the raging sea behind the
not sure if Im ready to go home."
"Its only for a couple of weeks James you clown. And its
Christmas! God, youve been such a grouch this past week, do you
really hate the festive season that much?"
"No, not at all, Im looking forward to seeing my family of
"All the food
"Yes, sure, the whole thing, the whole
I honestly enjoy it. Its just
Alice was smiling at him, her face up close, as if she were probing
his pores for clues. Her gaze seemed to enter his bones and rattle them,
bringing him out of the chill, the dark, ice, wind, time. As the warmer
months had faded into the rustiness of autumn, and he had begun seeing
her every day again, and mornings had grown darker and nights nearer,
and fallen leaves were replaced by coats of white dust, the transition
had crossed into him somehow too. James felt himself metamorphosing
when he was around her. She made him want to shed his skin and blend
"Weve spent so much time together this term Alice. Itll
be strange not to be around you." He spoke so quietly he wasnt
even sure himself if hed said the words out loud. His feet had
stopped moving. He dragged his gaze from the anaemic ground and rested
it on her.
Alice was looking straight ahead, her huge mouth spread open with a
smile radiating happiness. James could taste his heart at the back of
I mean do you feel
She pulled herself from him, yanking away her body, her heat, and started
walking hurriedly forwards along the promenade. With her movement, the
warmth in every cell of Jamess body melted away, so that each
hair on his arm spiked up, and his skin crisped, his torso tensed, his
chest had to brace itself again against the onslaught of the tortuous
sea-gale. He found himself terrified of looking beyond her.
Alice was running into the hysterical white horses of the sea. He watched
as her purple hat was consumed by wave after wave, in a matter of seconds.
The wind, which had once been so selfish, now threw back at him across
the dulled sands the tinkling of her laughter.
James was, in fact, alone. The piers neon glistened behind him,
a failed beacon, a guiding light which had not brought her back to the
shore, then, now, or ever. Alice existed now only in the seasons; her
eyes were the frost that James skidded on whenever he stepped outside,
her hair was spread across the sky in late afternoon every day since
October, her loss and his grief were manifested in every single blow
of the winters bluster.
James restarted his walk down the promenade, displaying proudly to the
violent waters a crown of memories, bejewelled by a beautiful drowned
girl with emblazoned cheeks, now immortal on the wind.
© Lauren Almey December 2005
after a Rainfall
headed in her direction...
had longed to believe in monsters...
Fiction in Dreamscapes
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