Flash Fiction No. 16

#Flashfiction – A festive themed flash piece.

Footprints In The Snow

He stood outside, pale skin gleaming in the frosty light, peering in through the window. It was warm inside. The fire glowed and lit the children’s faces. They supped at steaming mugs of soup, raising each chalice to their lips like some heated nectar. Damn, snow spattered hair dried off in the face of that insistent orange glow.

Brittle fingers shivered in the biting air as an icy tear tracked his white cheek.

A woman melted into view behind the cold glass. She gathered the children’s coats and scarves, mittens and hats, and hung them over the radiator where wistful eyes watched the snow thaw from their smattered surfaces, dripping into a pool on the carpeted floor. The woman hugged herself tightly over the thick pad of her jumper.

It was their first Christmas without their father there. She thought they were doing alright so far, but it was hard to tell.

The children laughed amidst their discussions and she proffered a week smile, opting to edge away to the kitchen instead, unaware that her movement were being followed by a pair of dark, glistening eyes.

The scarf around his neck slowly began to unwind but he made no movement to correct it, so entranced was he by the light flickering on the children’s faces.

They throw another log into the fire, remembering with hidden pangs that it had been somebody else’s job. The sad tinge entered their faces for a few moments. There was a clatter in the kitchen, clearing their expressions.

They knew that she could not see their hurt or dismay. They knew that this Christmas would be hard on her too and that they all had to be strong. The children squeezed together, the eldest reassuring the youngest in an affectionate embrace.

They parted, supped at their soup and continued their conversation about the snowball fight as new flakes dusted the window panes.

Dark eyes still peered at the house. The wind had started to get up, whipping around him and tossing his hat to the solid ground. But still he made not a motion or a sound and allowed the chill to eat at his frozen nose as he watched without words.

The mother had reappeared. She leaned in the doorway, hugging herself tightly as she observed the children by the fire. They were fantasising about presents. They were presents that she knew she couldn’t afford.

Not now.

She didn’t even register the watcher in the garden as she followed the tracks of their snowball fight with her eyes. They would soon disappear, covered up by a new snowfall. Everything disappeared or changed eventually. Soon even her children would change and disappear.

They wouldn’t stay young forever with their vivid memories. Memories would fade like their footprints in the snow. And they would grow older. They would grow older and they would leave her alone in the big empty house. Christmases would be increasingly lonely until she disappeared too.

But she had them now. She had their bright eyes and warm smiles. And she would do her best to make this Christmas special, no matter what had befallen them.

The snowman in the garden shivered, still watching, still protecting and still marvelling at the bravery of his little creators.

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