The Last Days of Winter

by Jacqui Pack

The lacklustre winter sun casts shadows over the terrace of bay fronted houses, standing like a row of lifeless clones. Their individual replacement glazing and front doors only serve to emphasise their similarities. A washed out sky hangs above the tiled roofs, only there because something has to fill the space. The blanket of banality draped over the street is only interrupted by the grey curling smoke of an allotment bonfire, its sooty aroma lingering in the air before drifting down to the pavement. The onset of winter stripped the trees bare and they stand crucified, waiting resurrection.

In the spare room Rose lies motionless on the bed, as if already on a mortuary slab. Her body barely disturbs the floral duvet which matches the curtains, adding a splash of colour alongside the magnolia walls. Her skin is shiny and has become like an autumn leaf that crumbles to the touch, causing the slightest of knocks to leave dark stains under its surface. Her skeletal rib cage rises and falls erratically; she breathes through her mouth, thinned lips slightly parted, rasping as her pain gradually succumbs to the medication she has received. Her failing eyes open irregularly and flicker towards the window. Rose is waiting. Her family is waiting. She knows the time will come soon. She closes her eyes and hopes.

* * * * *

Colour. That’s all I see. Nothing but colour. Colour everywhere, surrounding me, inside of me. I’m part of the colour. I don’t know how to tell you so’s you’ll understand it the way it is. I’ve no body, nothing to weigh me down, just the me bit and the colour. It’s exciting, like being out in a summer storm. I feel so alive.

Around me are kaleidoscopes of light, gaudy and throbbing; reflections endlessly regenerating, turning and falling, folding in on themselves, repeating; throwing animated rainbow patterns of life around me. I’m made of colour, every possible colour. And all the colours are fresh, like they’re all newborn. And love is a colour, a colour that’s everywhere.

And I can hear the colours. Hear them whispering in my ear like a lover, filling me up. All the time sound’s vibrating through me and I can smell and taste colour too. I know I’m not explaining it properly. It’s like I taste the hard brightness of the yellow as it shimmers through my eyes. The luxury of the red: thick, glutinous, like a velvet trimmed blanket cosseting me. And the black, oh the black is so beautiful, it’s got such depth and it shines like a light guiding me home. The brilliance of the light supports me and I really feel as if I’m part of it, as if I’m supporting it too.

And colour is music. Have I said that already? I can rise high, I’m soaring into the air, into a crescendo of purple, twirling around, feeling every spiralling note until I reach the orange climax and feel myself showering into the air like citrus sea-spray. I’m everywhere at once and I feel, I feel for the first time complete. Like I’m at home. Back home at last. And the feeling’s a sound and a colour and the three things overlap and blend until they’re all the same and I couldn’t really tell you what it’s like really, except that it’s bliss.

Just bliss.

* * * * *

The dark grey clouds gratefully release their cargo. Rain is softly suspended in the atmosphere, a fine unmoving mist that replaces the air. Two black cars, professional, sleek, their engines purring discreetly, wait in the road. In their uniform blackness they appear more solid than the grey winter colours of the street around them.

A small black-clad group emerge from one of the houses. As if choreographed the two cars move as one, slowly gliding over the tarmac; leaving the street behind.

Jacqui Pack writes short stories and poetry. Her work has been published in First Edition and New Fairy Tales and her story ‘The Lure of the Sea’ was selected as Long Story Short’s ‘Story of 2009’.

  1. #1 by jennifer walmsley on May 7, 2010 - 9:44 am

    A wonderful use of colour, sounds and scents, Jacqui.

    The dreary shabbiness of the living to the old lady’s brilliant release of her body wracked with pain.

  2. #2 by Jacqui Pack on May 7, 2010 - 1:11 pm

    Jennifer, I’m so glad you liked it. It’s great to get such positive and specific comments from readers. Thanks.

  1. Blog Tour Monday – Jacqui Pack (Guest Blog) | Anne Kirstine Jensen

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