Winter (K W George)

A man in a black suit on a white windswept beach. Wind snatching an umbrella, turning it into a batwing. Hands so cold and trembling fingers don’t work. Tingly feeling when you’re getting the flu and lying limply on the sofa, the dog’s wet nose nuzzling your palm. The stillness of the house on the first day back at school. Sudden roar of the footy crowd as you pass the stadium; shadows lengthening and a chill in the air. Sun on lemons in a blue bowl on an old oak table. Ripples on a lake and on the far side a lonely rower dipping his oars in golden water. Smell of baking Anzac biscuits. Coconut. Rain pattering the corrugated roof, gurgling down gutters. Stewed apples and cloves. Plump sultanas and the tang of peel. Cinnamon. Pushing soft buttery pastry with your fingers. Crunching crusted sugar between your teeth. Deep in the country the cold stiffness of sheets in a motel bed. A semi-trailer passing through, gearing down, the echo lingering long after the headlights have leapt across the ceiling. The vast night sky, sprinkled with stars like tacks on tarmac. Gossiping grain silos huddling for warmth on the horizon. In the dark and thickly-wooded forest, light drip drip dripping from the sky. Scratchy picnic rug under your back and shadows dappling your face. A grey hair not noticed before. The distant muted sounds of children, playing. Taste of tea in a plastic mug. First coffee of the day, and the pleasure when the barista remembers your name. Soft poached eggs on smoked salmon with wafers of toast; caviar popping against your teeth. Waking to the sonorous silence of snow. Pipes creaking, cracking. Sound distorted. Suspended from the chair-lift, skis dangling, and dropping a glove. First skier on the run, any run; the shush-shush of skis. Peeling off the beanie—hair hopelessly flattened. Red pram perambulating along a grey gloomy street. Walk through the park, kicking up dank leaves. Fingers fastening on fluff and a discarded movie ticket in the depths of your coat pocket. Sunday afternoon, someone burning off and the acrid smoke twisting and twirling towards twilight. Coals aglow in the grate. Ruby port in a crystal glass. Up the stairs, along the narrow corridor, the solitary walk to the room under the eaves and the high bed and the heavy covers, and the soft rumbling snore of traffic. Rainy day and the smell of urine in the subway. Beggar’s fraying, overlong sleeve. Gutters wetly splattered with cigarette butts, and a black limousine oozing down an oily city lane. In the doorway, a glimpse of the blanched bare feet of a child. Knotted hair. Bitten fingernails. Fragile and mottled elderly skin. The hesitancy of the rasping voice. Wispy white hair. Bone structure of a bird beneath your hands. Behind the door, the brown cardigan with leather-covered buttons hanging, helpless, on a hanger. The silence of a coffin on the workbench in the shed. Curls of shavings questioning the dark earth. Chisel with a worn handle, lying motionless. At peace. And the light. The light streaming through the high casement window.

george_k-wK W George is a Brisbane-based writer. She studied creative writing at the Queensland University of Technology, and has a master’s degree in Australian Gothic Literature. She has been published in Meanjin, Tincture, Going Down Swinging, WQ, and three Margaret River Press anthologies. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards in the Emerging Author / Unpublished Manuscript section.