I don’t know who I am anymore.
I used to love winter. That’s why he’d chosen skiing for our honeymoon, but that sentiment seems lost on me now. I cherished cool morning walks with the dog, the sting of frost against my cheek, mummifying myself in scarves before the sweet relief of warmth as I retreat home once more.
Home is so very far away.
At first, I gazed outside this same arch window watching a gentle flurry of snowflakes fall to the ground. They melted into dew as they hit the land, but later they formed a powdery blanket that encased our cabin. Instead of using this as an excuse to spend a passion-filled day in bed, as most newlyweds do, I was forced to acknowledge myself; the deep respire of my breath, the rhythmic pound of my chest, the wet blinking of my eyes, the pressure of the still tongue in my mouth—loaded with the weight of a thousand questions.
Now, the sapphire sky has gone. Pale grey clouds infest the air, suffocating the sun’s glare. The once cotton-whipped alpine trees, picturesque against the bony Alps, are now consumed by the onslaught of ice, abolishing a fairy-tale world with a thrash of silver.
How can something be so beautiful and so perilous?
I tear away from the blankness, and my eyes fall to my lap. My hands are shaking. They still refuse to cooperate. I manage to peel myself from my perch and wade into the bathroom. The faucet groans as I release the water. It’s no good. The blood won’t wash from my hands. My skin burns beneath the bristles. Bleach bites at my fingertips, raw and scorched from scrubbing. My palms fizz with pain, but I welcome it. I deserve it. Satisfied, I returned to my armchair.
My view is opaque now. Only bleak, blurry colours survive through the haze. In the corner of my eye, I can see the surge of amber flames devouring timber on the hearth. Smoke escapes through the throat of the chimney only to be choked by snow. Yet, no matter how many throws I wear, a bitter chill persists within my muscles. Perhaps, the blizzard is seeping into the walls, into my armchair, and my heart. If I close my lids and focus on the storm, the beating whirl of crashing sleet, I can almost forget. Almost.
The urge to clean rises again. With halting breath, I find my feet and walk back to the bathroom. A forceful shake of my head frees me from myself, momentarily. More bleach will help. I reach for the bottle. The cap, already loose, slips off and lands on the floor. It descends with a dull splatter instead of a clinking tap. The realisation of what this means twists at my insides and snakes around my throat, coiling off my windpipe. Parallel to the terror thundering outside, the hammering in my chest accelerates.
My unsteady fingers stretch outward as I crouch to the floor. They tremble against the tiles, feeling their way. Sweat punctures my brow; my eyes squeeze shut. Scrambling, I feel the surface change from cool, hardness to sticky moisture. Tears prick hotly in my eyes as I tip-toe my fingers through the liquid, willing them to find the cap without me having to see.
My scalp prickles as my fingers freeze against a solid mass. I gently touch his hardened skin, my downturned mouth quivering with every stroke. A memory emerges of how this once felt when blood coursed bountifully through his veins. I remember the scratch of his stubble, the dimples of his smile, the tenor of his voice.
What have I done?
Instinctively, I retract and abandon the lid, finding solace again in the fold of the armchair by the arch window. I know there is blood on my hands this time, but I do not rush to clean them. I let it dry with the heat of the fireplace—to stick and absorb into my skin like roots sucking nutrients from the earth.
Trapped inside, the echo in my head recites I did what I had to do, over and over again as the snowfall slows to a stop.