Friday, February 11, 2011

Snow Won't Stick to the Weeping Willow

Hello one and all!

I'm currently here in our lovely library, hard at work. They're really very nice to us here at Clemons library. We're allowed to do homework in between helping patrons and shelving books, the staff is friendly, and best of all, you see hundreds of interesting books and dvds every day. That of course leads to a slight problem in my case.

I see several hundred more books I want to read than I have time for.

Sadly, now is one of those times in which I do not have the sufficient number of minutes to tell you all the things I want to, so I will compromise. I had planned to make it home at six today, but I was asked to do some extra reserve shelving and stay till 7.

So consequently, I'm not going to make it home in time to make my planned post (I'm going to a regional YSA activity as soon as I leave here). In order to give you something worthwhile, I've decided to attach a short story I wrote for my creative writing class. It's more description and introspection than any real plot (think super-flowery ornate), and it's loosely inspired by equal parts Hush Sound and real events. And my apologies to those who have already read it, but recycling is good for the environment, so please make allowances.

I love you all, and congratulate you for surviving yet another fun-filled week!


Oh, and here's the story

The snow won't stick to the weeping willow
the cold air won't blow open the windows
You've made it through the storm this far
You've done this dear, it won't be hard

-Weeping Willow, The Hush Sound

Snow in the Appalachia is different. It’s not the constant natural state of the Arctic, not the baffling surprise to beachfront retirees in South Carolina. Here it’s subtle as the shortening days, warmth fading breath by breath. Summer Equinox and Midwinter are two points; I’ve passed through both so many times, but as I see the sun sink behind the ridge at 4 pm, my mind still mutely cries out in surprise. Calendars, the earth’s tilt, and daylight savings are artificial, artificially learned and understood, not real. But my warm afternoon is now freezing the puddles along the curves and up the concrete steps past the fir trees. I once tried to count an hour’s worth of seconds without looking at a clock. That’s what the snow is like. Gradually sudden. Easily measureable, constantly experienced, laughably common, but inexorable and vaster than an ocean, deep as space.

The weeping willow is the only one left unburied. All the other trees have rounded into white mushrooms, bending under the weight of the snow, but the willow quietly brushes the white off in the wind. The flakes stick just enough, dusting each threadlike branch as white as my grandmother’s hair. The pressure of a thousand feathers is too much for some, but the willow knows not to hold on to burdens.

In the shadows, flakes pile up. Microscopic lattices, pure perfection is overlooked and worthless, simply because it is everywhere. If there was only one snowflake in all the world, how beautiful it would be! But now I wade, struggling to drag my splintered cedar load to the house. As I open the door, the cold and the snow rush in behind me, but the butter-yellow firelight beats them both, leaping to stretch itself on the dark blue-white ridges of the hills behind me.

A drop of mercury climbs up its black ladder, pulling itself up two steps. The two degrees difference is indiscernible in the wind’s grasp, but above the mountains’ peaks, it is enough to make the snowflakes drip together into rain before freezing as they enter the wind’s path. The sleet is crueler than the snow. The snow buries the world, but it is kind. The sleet is noisy, slapping branches and trunks, cutting through clothes, and freezing against my body. How strange that warmth turned the quiet beauty into deadly cold. But it makes sense I suppose. The coldest faces I’d ever seen were the ones that had once been warmest.

At midnight, I step outside, and the moon has cleared the mountains, her light coldly shining off of the mountainsides. The sleet no longer falls, but it has glazed each edge in the silver glow. The weeping willow, its branches not covered by any white blanket, is a statue of crystal, each glass strand catching the moon and sending it out again.

I don’t notice the door swing to crash itself against its frame. The shock echoes, only to be swallowed by the soft landscape. But before it can fade, it is answered by a much sharper crack and the sound of breaking glass.

The weeping willow is split in two. Shattered and splintered not by the pressure outside, but by the cold within.

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