Joseph Allan

A Cold and Bitter Wind

I am lying in my bed as a cold and bitter wind blows across the world outside.  You can hear the coldness of it, the desperate funereal moan, the rise and fall of agonal gasps, and it sets the house to shivering, the world.  Sharp staccato darts of rain rake against the walls and the windows as if the wind itself has grown claws and is scratching to be let in, to invade this last vestige of warmth.  The tall birch tree in the yard groans under the pressure, a branch snaps, the crack almost unheard against the gusts.

I am lying on my back, my wife lies in the crook of my right arm, head on my shoulder, her dark hair splayed across my chest like a fan.  She is sleeping deeply, her breathing low and rhythmic, unconcerned with the growing apocalypse.  She shifts in her sleep, draws herself closer and I wonder at her, at her ability to rest.

The rain is growing stronger.  The storm rolls in as if conjured from some black and endless void, summoned and carried by the voice of the screaming wind.  The room is awash in a rapid shutter flare of lightning, an all consuming whiteness that saps all other color, drives the shadows into hiding, and then it is gone, and I am once again plunged into darkness.  Half a moment later the thunder comes, a great rumbling that shakes the earth, the ear shattering roar of some great beast, angry, fitful.

I am lying on my back, my child lies in the crook of my left arm, his knees drawn up close to his face, a curled ball pressed up against my side.  He sleeps fitfully, his breathing takes on a fluttering quality and he mutters unknown words with each exhalation.  I strain to hear them, as if the words would reveal great truths, would allow me to know the soul of the child if I could but decipher them.

The windows rattle in their frames, the wind finds purchase against them, creeps its way into the house in a high pitched hissing, a serpentine sound that sends shivers up my spine.  The furnace is out again, I had meant to get it fixed but I haven’t had the time, the money, and now it is too late, the cold is here, is inside, and there is nothing I can do about it.  From somewhere in the house comes the sound of water dripping, a monotone rap that does not vary but all the same seems to grow loud, deafening.  It drowns out the cacophony of the storm, and I know that the roof is leaking and I don’t know how I’ll fix it, don’t know how I’ll fix anything.

I am lying on my back, my wife and child lie with me.  I tighten my arms around them, pull them close.  I keep them warm, safe, and without waking, they do the same for me.  I drift into sleep.

Joseph Allan is a Canadian author currently at work on his debut novel, Lamentation, and is submitting short stories for publication. Joseph was born and raised in a small prairie town. Bright summers carried with them the earthy animal scent of surrounding farmlands, winters the desolate frost-bitten dark. Surrounded by the stories of everyday life as they played out in universal dramas, he grew, married, worked, raised children. Joseph currently lives in a slightly larger prairie town with his wife and children and and when not writing, Joseph enjoys reading, music and a good whiskey with both.