The last of the Drakeathon prompts is another take on Jilliko’s “Dreams of Winter.” It is between a cut of descriptions and depictions of death
Winter dreamed of death.
Let summer have heat prostration, drought, the long hot death of burning; let autumn have harvest and the browning of the leaves; let spring babble of flooding. Spring was, they all knew, about fertility, no matter how many deaths she claimed. Summer was about growth; her heat warmed the planet, warmed the people. Autumn’s harvest was food, fuel for survival. None of them really understood death. None of them knew how to kill like Winter did.
She dreamed, in her pristine palace, of the thousand cold, sharp deaths. She dreamed of the bird who could find no seeds, slowly perishing of starvation. She dreamed of the cold that slowed and clogged the blood, until the heart stopped and the body gave up. She dreamed of the quick skid across the road that looked dry, the black ice sending a car skittering like a toy across the road.
She dreamed of death, for she had been born of death, for death, about death. In her sleep; for Winter is sleep; she knew about, and was, the necessary: the renewal of the planet that comes with the slow rot of late autumn, that leads to the violent green of early spring. She was, in her dreams, the stasis of the freezer, that holds dreams unmoving, unchanging, un-growing and undying, until the thaw rescues them to rot or to sprout. She touched the tragedies and held them close to her frozen heart, the impatience of humanity against the implacability of the ice; the desperation of hunger and frostbite.
Winter slept, because the time of cold is a time of dormancy, the sleep that looks much like death, and the death, in turn, that appears to be a quiet sleep. She held the land stagnant in her dreams, never growing, never changing, the people dreaming of better times in that quiet way: Maybe someday the world will change. Maybe someday I will change. She held it all quiet, close to her heart, where it could not hurt her, where it could not grow away from her, or fall to rot. She held the land peaceful, quiet as the grave, quiet as sleep.
In the midst of the stasis of winter, the land dreamed of spring. It stretched, and heaved, under the heavy blanket of snow and ice. It put forth shoots, defying the cold and the ice, the frozen wasteland that said Winter will be here forever. The world will never change. The planet turned towards the sun, and the ice began to crack.
In the middle of Winter’s dreams, the people began to stir. They stretched, reaching, yearning for something. Yearning for change.
The snow fell, killing the shoots of green, burying the bird digging for seeds, making the roads slick and deadly.
And still the people dreamed, and stretched. And still the world turned towards the sun.
Winter dreamed of death holding everyone still. She dreamed of the quiet of starvation, the peace of stagnation. She dreamed of the cold, because she had been born of the cold, of death, of silence.
And in her silence, the world dreamed of noise, and awoke.
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