You moved like a glacier through the best years of my life. Shaped me hugely, imperceptibly, until I’d forgotten what I was before and had become something that made no sense after you were gone, something carved and scalloped by a million unnoticed excisions. After the divorce I looked for myself in what you’d left of me, but saw nothing I recognised in the bleak, hollowed place where I thought I used to be.
When you’d gone, I summoned the courage to show my ghostly face to a world that used to thrill me with its vibrancy. It had always seemed rampant with life, fecund with opportunities, and I dared to imagine myself out there again, part of all that colour. But now it was different, alien to me, harsh and daunting, empty but for the aching white and the stinging frost. I suppose the rest of the world got busy exploring its own possibilities while you were busy eroding me. So, it’s too late, then.
Terrified by such bitter and barren strangeness, I retreat, seeking the few small hidden corners of myself that you never quite found. I curl myself, foetal, around those tiny warm embers and wonder whether they can be coaxed into something like flame, whether they might be seeds enough for me to somehow be reborn and grow again.
Drip, drip……drip, drip.
You always said I was so strong, a citadel where others came in search of shelter. Was that strength real? Was it truly mine or just on loan from you? Was I strong before you came? I don’t remember. No one needs me now. Alone, I am paper-thin, kitten-weak. I am no citadel. At best I am an abandoned church, adorned by monuments to past joys now frozen into dead stone, filled with echoes, haunted by memories of all that we used to be. My translucent blue shell is still capable of a brittle kind of beauty, but I am too aware of how the smallest changes could leave me melted, a puddle.
Drip. Drip-drip, drip-drip.
So I am melting, after all. I can feel myself shrinking as my icy shell slowly trickles away. Melting… or thawing? Will there be something left of me when the last of your coldness has ebbed? I look for the source of warmth and am surprised to find it inside myself. The centre of me, those tiny embers, glow bright as I breathe hope upon them, and the seeds which were planted long before I even knew you were in the world send out brave tendrils. I watch and wonder, awakening from a sleep I had believed might be death. I dare to feel angry at you for having left me in such a fragile state, and angry at myself for having let you become everything.
I stand and find that I am tall, understanding now that you were Winter and your time is over. And I step forward, unafraid, knowing that I am Spring.
N.R. Baker has earned recognition for her travel writing, poetry, lyrics, flash fiction and short stories. An active seeker of wild places, she now lives in an overgrown corner of rural France. Her first full-length novel will be published in summer 2020.