Alden's Midwinter

“Today’s the day” said Alden as he opened his eyes.  He knew it was a perfect winter’s day even before he threw back the covers and rolled onto the hard earth floor.  The light in the doorway was bright and tinged with orange rather than leaden grey and he couldn’t feel his nose. It was going to be sharply cold and clear, the weak watery sun would only rise half-way before starting its descent to sunset.

The fleece beneath him was so warm and cosy he could hardly bear to leave his bed but tonight’s festivities depended on him so with equal parts of reluctance and excitement he threw back the blanket and shuffled towards the hearth.  The fire was nearly out but with a few deft pokes and the addition of kindling followed by some larger logs he coaxed it back to life.  The whisps of blue grey smoke rose quickly and disappeared through the opening in the roof.  He located his mother on the opposite side of the round house and crept towards her being careful to avoid the sleeping bodies around the hearth.  The spots closest to the fire were always reserved for grandparents, anyone over thirty had earned their position next to the warmth. Gently, he shook his mother’s shoulder, she woke with a start and half sat up. “It’s just me, when are we going?” Alden whispered.  She took a couple of seconds to order her sleep scrambled thoughts before replying “Soon son, we have to wait for the Procession, go and wash yourself”.

Alden snatched a cooking pot and a beaker from the hearth and headed out to the trough, he could hear his mother gently waking up the rest of the family as he left, encouraging them to roll up their bedding and clear the space ready for the day.

There was a rod leaning against the wooden trough which Alden used for breaking the ice that inevitably covered the water from late autumn. Last year he’d struggled with the weight of it but this year he handled it with ease.  A couple of sharp jabs and the icy crust was broken.  He scooped some water into his hands and quickly washed his face.  The cold took his breath away, if he was sleepy before, he wasn’t now.  He filled the cooking pot and the beaker with water and returned to the warmth of the house.  His mother took the pot from him, added what was left of yesterday’s bread and a small spoon of honey then set it on the edge of the fire, before long it would be transfor...

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Katherine Horejsi
Jun 13 2021

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Comments:

This is beautifully told tale that immediately draws you in and leaves you wanting more. Katherine has a special ability to write stories that stir your imagination and stay with you long after you've finished reading.

Rod Webb
Jun 27 2021

Love the feelings of warmth and family. It would me amazing to find out more of Alden’s story. It definitely left me wanting to read more.

Craig Worcester
Jun 26 2021