[Story] Story a Week 27

[[ Sorry I haven’t been writing much, between my summer projects and cleaning/yard work/car hassles I have not had much free time. The werewolf should be done today though I hope!

Prompt: A story that features a song or a poem

I ended up using the poem for inspiration, rather than actually putting it into the story. I just picked one that I liked and felt I could apply to one of my characters! ]]

Winter Heavens
George Meredith

Sharp is the night, but stars with frost alive
Leap off the rim of earth across the dome.
It is a night to make the heavens our home
More than the nest whereto apace we strive.
Lengths down our road each fir-tree seems a hive,
In swarms outrushing from the golden comb.
They waken waves of thoughts that burst to foam:
The living throb in me, the dead revive.
Yon mantle clothes us: there, past mortal breath,
Life glistens on the river of the death.
It folds us, flesh and dust; and have we knelt,
Or never knelt, or eyed as kine the springs
Of radiance, the radiance enrings:
And this is the soul’s haven to have felt.

A cold winter wind blew over the crusted snow, flinging tiny specks of ice into the air, which caught the meager light and sparkled there. Stormpelt had always loved the winter, the feels and smells of it — the soft, fluffy snow and the hard, slippery ice. The rich sap of the pines and the way your breath hung in the air like a cloud. She loved the crunch beneath her paws of old snow and brittle branches, the sound of the wind rattling the bare branches at night. But most of all she loved the feeling of being warm and safe in their den together, knowing even the most bitter wind would not reach them there.

This winter was different. Wintermoon was gone. She could still see the image in her head, his gentle eyes wide in surprise and — she hated to believe it — perhaps fear, the bright blood seeping into the ground. She hadn’t meant to, hadn’t wanted to. But it had happened, all the same. Her master must have known how it would hurt her, that’s why he had chosen Wintermoon for her prey. There could be no other reason.

She walked down the long road, the one that led to the towns. Normally, she would avoid them, but no one was traveling now. The people there were snug inside their own dens, within the thick stone walls. They probably had their families with them as well. Stormpelt felt her stomach turn, and she  knew it was not hunger, for she had not felt hunger since the day she died. She went to a ridge where they had often sat to watch the stars as they emerged from behind the mountains, a secret place hidden by the trees.

Had he forgiven her? She liked to believe that he had, it was his nature. He had never growled or nipped her in earnest, though he was much larger and stronger than she. She had betrayed him twice, once in death and again in undeath. Was his heart soft enough to love her in spite of that? It was somehow worse if he had, made her feel even more guilty. He didn’t deserve what had happened. It was still light, so Stormpelt could not see the stars yet, but they would come in time. They always did.

When she was there with her master, some of them said they didn’t feel anything at all. She envied them that sometimes, it must be so much easier. They were not burdened as she was with the guilt of what they had done, the memories of what they had lost. They didn’t think back to cozy winter nights in their dens, to the thrill of the hunt through the woods, to watching the stars on a summer evening. They didn’t have the pain that seemed to crush their hearts within their breast at a scent, or a word, or a place. They had nothing at all. Stormpelt had at least the faint echo of her life, and though it hurt, it was something. Feeling something, even hurt, made her feel a little more alive. And memories were better than nothing at all. She vowed to keep them safe, one last promise — he would never be forgotten.

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