Stories on the edge of familiarity

Opening to “Star and Ice” (actual title TBD)

Sema didn’t sleep as well as she used to. Her back ached, the house creaked, and her mind would rise full of thoughts and memories when the stars shone on the ice, which was every night. So, this night, when the crash against the door that made the house shake intruded around the edges of her sleep-muzzed consciousness, she only wrapped the blankets around tighter and curled up on the bed. There was a voice in the wind, she thought dreamily, almost a wail. But such thoughts came from her grandmother’s generation. The immortal world needed no help from mortal beings, was not even immortal. Nothing left but the too-tired mind playing tricks on a lonely old woman.

Pink pearled the horizon after a night of swaying from asleep to not-quite-asleep, wanting to fall, but never quite managing to. Overcast again. For a brief moment, the sun stared dully down at the glacier, but it must not have liked what it saw. Sema brewed a pot of tea from the supply her son had left before his voyage across the sea. Almost gone now, it was, but with only one person drinking it, it would last a while yet.

Rain had come down last night, rain mixed with snow, and it occurred to Sema that she ought to see if the mat had frozen to the front step. Odd weather, that, it now seemed to her in the daylight hours. Too warm for the season. Too wet. She built the fire back up to a cheerful blaze and laid the horsehair blanket on the rocking chair, that it might be ready for her after her morning exertion. Tea ready, she covered the pot and set her cup by the chair that it might cool. Then, finally, she took the worn wooden box with a broken lock from its place under the window and placed it next to the chair, in front of the funny table with three legs — built that way — upon which sat her tea. The window had streaks on it, which she frowned at and tried to rub away with a corner of her sleeve, but they were on the outside, and would not leave.

Then, to the door. Snow fell in small, dry flakes on the other side of the window, so she wrapped herself in several layers — shawl, coat, parka — before touching the handle. It was warm, warmer even than the inside of the house. A trick of the senses only, reminding her to put on her fur-lined mittens, which she did. Prepared in all ways, she opened the door.

The air should have nipped at her nose and cheeks. White flakes should have swirled, sticking to her face and clothing. She should be regretting that first breath after the door is wide open and the worst is over, so you stop holding your breath and let the cold drill down into the lungs. But the air was mild as mid spring, the snow turned to water the moment it came within four feet of the door. That first breath went down easy, if a bit dry and, before the front step, lay a young woman naked as the day she was born, surrounded by a puddle of water mixed with blood.

Note: I’m not sure when/if I’m going to finish this story. I rather like Sema, and I find the mystery surrounding the young woman she stumbles upon fascinating, but I’m thinking that I’ll need to change a LOT before I hit on the right form this story needs to take for me to be able to finish it. Maybe Sema and the young woman need to be in two different stories?

Hm. I’ll ponder that.

In the mean time, I’ll leave this unsolved mystery to rattle around in your brain a while. :D


This story first appeared yesterday on The Twins of Darkness and Good, where Liana Brooks, Amy Laurens, and I post short, unedited, mostly-weekly fiction.

Amy Laurens is currently running a serial story called The League of Absolutely Ordinary Superheroes. There are six parts so far and the latest one involves the main character being an idiot with girls.

Buy Me a Peppermint Tea at ko-fi.com