Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Winter Wonderland

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‘Kate. Kate. Ka-ate. Kaaaay-teeee. KATE.’

‘What?!’

‘Look!’

She twisted in her seat and pushed aside the curtains. Dancing white dots swirled through the black-and-orange night.

‘Is that snow?’

‘Fuck yeah, it is!’ Alex said, grinning.

‘Oh bollocks, I’d better not be snowed in tomorrow.’

She turned back to her laptop and he flopped down on the couch beside her.

‘Spoilsport. Anyway, it’s not like you’ve got anywhere to go. You should relish in the snow! Frolick in it like a child! Be free, Kate, won’t you be freeeeeeee?’

She smiled and gave him a small shove.

‘Shut up.’

The next morning, her car was snowed in. The next morning, the world glistened white and quiet. The next morning, she needed surprisingly little convincing from Alex to put on her wellies and crunch out into the new land before them, and she didn’t complain about being snowed in at all as they walked to the edge of the village, down the farmer’s path, crossed the turnstile, and hiked out into the empty fields.

At the top of the hill, the valley stretched before them, and what had been a patchwork of greens, browns and beiges lay uniform and tranquil. Quite art deco, she thought. Clean black hedge lines blocking out white shapes.

‘We need a dog.’

‘We do not need a dog, Al.’

‘We totally need a dog. They’d love it on a day like this. Have you ever seen a cocker spaniel with snow in its ears? All the fur clogs up until it’s got two icy wrecking balls on each side.’

Kate laughed.

‘So now we specifically need a cocker spaniel?’

‘Well, any spaniel, really,’ he said, as he walked ahead. ‘I’m not fussy.’

He was asking for a snowball, of course.

They pelted each other and screamed and missed and apologised when they hit each other too hard. They never threw any gentler for that, though. Across the whole field, they fought, until Kate begged for no more.

‘Ah, started what you can’t finish, eh?’ Alex said, raising his arm as if to smash the snowball into her head. She squealed, but found herself swung around in his arms, face pressed against the cold wet of his coat. His snowball had rejoined the trenched snow by their boots.

They laughed, and continued walking. Wet clothes were mentioned. Hot chocolate was hypothesised. They turned and began to make their way back.

On the way down the hill, on a nearly-level field whose snow had barely been touched, Alex stopped.

‘Kate. Ka-ate.’

‘What?’

‘Let’s build a snowman!’

‘Now? But I’m freezing!’

‘Come on, it’ll warm you up!’

‘It’ll take forever, and we haven’t got any carrots or anything! I don’t even think there are any stones about for his eyes or whatever.’

‘Psh, loser talk. I’ll find some stones and things, don’t you worry.’

She protested, but he was already bent over and rolling up the first ball.

Green grass sprung up in the trenches they made. Once the first ball was in place, they started on the second, and Kate resisted the urge to stuff snow down Alex’s exposed collar.

‘Can tell you’ve really grown up since you started living with me,’ she said.

‘What d’you mean?’

‘If this was a few years ago, you’d be making a massive snow cock instead of a snow man.’

‘I considered it,’ he replied with a cheeky look. ‘But I reckon I’ve made some pretty majestic snow cocks in my time. I think I’ll retire from it, and let some other up-and-comer become the snow cock master.’

Kate snorted and Alex threw a handful of powder at her and for a few moments the snowball fight threatened to begin again. Truce was made, though, for the sake of their creation.

‘I’d forgotten how much work this is,’ Alex said, grunting as he pushed the third ball.

‘Can’t wuss out now, I won’t let you.’

‘Don’t worry, I won’t.’

They piled up the three parts of the snowman, and then Kate put her hands on her hips.

‘There, see? It’s just a pile of balls until we find some sticks.’

‘Heh heh, balls,’ Alex said. ‘Just give me a minute,’ he added, as he walked away to the nearby gate. When he returned a few moments later, he had three large stones and two mediocre sticks.

‘I suppose that’ll do,’ Kate said with a smile, unable to admit she was impressed with his speed.

The shoulders threatened to cave, even with the small sticks, and the snowman’s face had to be rebuilt multiple times before it would accept his new eyes and nose. At the end, the pair stood back and admired their handiwork: a small, lump, leaning snowman, with shrunken arms and an annoyed expression.

‘His nose looks more like a tiny mouth.’

‘Yeah, he looks kind of grumpy. Like he’s pouting.’

‘Oh my God, you know who he reminds me of?’ Alex said, jumping up to their Frankenstein. ‘He looks just like the grumpy old reverend they used to have come to my primary school! His mouth looked really high up because he had three chins and no neck, and the weird thing was he wasn’t even that fat – just his neck. God, he was a grumpy bastard.’

‘I take it he didn’t like you, then?’ Kate said, as she rubbed her hands together for warmth. Alex put his arm gently around the snowman’s shoulder.

‘God no, he hated me. Thought I was gay for some reason, and was surprisingly open about this even though I was like, nine, and had barely started looking at boobs yet. But look at me now, Rev Bailey!’ He turned and addressed the snowman like an old friend. ‘I’ve got an actual real breathing human woman, right here! All your worries were unfounded – it was spotty old Ben Hargreaves who you should have worried about the whole time, didn’t you know?’

Kate raised an eyebrow and tried not to giggle.

‘A real human woman, huh? As opposed to a goat?’

‘That would probably surprise him less. I bet he – and a few other of my teachers, maybe! – would be happy if I got myself a nice good-looking goat. As long as we weren’t living in sin, of course,’ he added with a twinkle.

‘You sod! You’d defend the honour of a goat, but you make me live in shame?’ Kate said, palm to her chest in faux-horror.

‘Oh, forgive me, fair damsel! Forgive me, Reverend Bailey!’ Alex said, bowing before the snowman’s uneven – yet still stern – gaze.

‘Well, I think Reverend Bailey won’t forgive you so easily!’ Kate said, walking to the other side of the snowman. ‘Listen to him! “Oh, Alexander, you disgraceful, fey child! You have not married this woman and you are living in SIN!”’

She roared the last word in her deepest, Orson Welles-iest tone. Alex, fully lost in the theatre, dropped to his knees, an inch deep in the soggy white ground.

‘Forgive me, Reverend Bailey! I swear, I will marry this young lady forthwith! Indeed, you may do the deed at your next convenience, good sir! You will do the job yourself, I swear it – I WILL marry her!’

He paused, one hand on his heart, the other gesturing up in a Shakespearean manner. His eyes turned from the snowman’s unfeeling visage, to Kate, stood in front of him. He was on his knees.

Their hearts trembled as their eyes met.

‘Ha,’ Kate said, in a breathy laugh. Hope danced in little sparks in her irises. A smile flickered on, then off. Disbelief.

Alex lowered his arm, but stayed kneeling. Layer upon layer of humour drained out of him, until an exposed sincerity was all that remained.

‘…I would, y’know,’ he said.

He did not disguise the overtone of fear in his voice.

Kate smiled and all fear was banished.

‘I would,’ she replied. ‘Say yes to it, I mean.’

Alex jumped to his feet.

‘Really?’

‘Really.’

They both gazed into each other’s eyes, and laughed: nervous, disbelieving, joyous.

Then she grabbed his coat and kissed him, and put her arms around his neck and kissed him, and they kissed and laughed until a shout came from the gate and a huffly breath and wet nose intruded onto their legs.

‘Sorry!’ came a shout behind them. A woman with a lead, tromping after the springer spaniel that was snuffling around Kate and Alex’s legs. The bottom of its ears was loaded with snow.

‘It’s okay,’ Kate called over, breaking the embrace to bend over and cuddle the excited creature.

‘You so want a dog,’ Alex said in her ear.

‘Shut up.’

They had a brief chat with the dog’s owner about the snow and state of the roads out the village, and then they walked off hand-in-gloved-hand, ignoring the singing of their hearts and instead talking about warm clothes and warmer drink.

Once they were home and changed, Kate flopped onto the couch and reached for her laptop.

‘Nuh-uh,’ Alex said as he entered the room. ‘Not yet.’

‘Not yet?’

He sat down beside her, and pulled her close to him, resting his cheek against her head.

‘I meant what I said, earlier,’ he said.

‘I know you did,’ Kate said, snuggling into his chest.

‘You’re okay with it?’

‘I’m more than okay.’

‘I can’t get you a ring or anything yet–’

‘I don’t care,’ she said. ‘I said I would, and I mean it, no matter how long it takes you to ask it.’

‘Awesome,’ he said. ‘Take that, Reverend Bailey!’

‘Tsh, look at you, total conformer, getting married to please old fuddy-duddies,’ she teased.

‘Yeah, well, I can’t be mega-cool all the time.’

They kissed, and after a few more seconds grinning at each other, they broke apart. Kate grabbed her laptop. Alex turned on the TV.

Bing Crosby was singing Christmas songs.

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Written by G.J.

18/12/2014 at 7:35 pm

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