by Antony Paschos
Seasons are a helix, scales on a coiled snake eating its tail, each unique, yet all of them alike; and all you need to know to escape winter is that all seasons are a helix, infinitely succeeding each other; that’s the only way to move on, to liberate yourself; for what is death if not a circle, a beginning so close to the end, monotonous, repetitive, non-existent?
The layer of snow in the playground was dead-skin pale. Acacias were craning anhydrous branches towards the sky, like huge cockroach legs.
I heard a swing creaking. The girl stretched her legs as she moved back and forth; rosy cheeks, a breath of steam.
Back and forth.
Like a pendulum.
A dog; a bark; the creak faded.
Four legs barely supporting a crooked spine. A torn pelt; scab, clots of blood and pus its diseased ornaments.
Under the dog’s belly I could see a string of flesh dangling, inscribing a ruby trail in the snow behind it.
The dog limped towards the little girl. Saliva foamed around a mouth that seemed to be made of tar. I could see its fangs.
I grabbed the shovel and rushed. I raised the shovel just in time to crack the dog’s skull.
The buildings’ shade was suffocating me; I could feel the weight of their cement mass on my shoulders; I was breathing dirt, plaster and asbestos.
I walked. My shoes were sinking in the snow, my feet were getting soaked inside them. I enjoyed the sensation. Cold is good. Cold is life.
I fell face-first.
Snow tasted of mud, pain ignited my forearms, my palms raw, bloody and studded with gravel.
I thought I had stumbled on a bloated trash bag, a common sight in this city. But it was the dog.
Its head squashed. Its body deformed. Its guts a tangled and knotted thread. Like a shiny coiled snake. I was ready to kick it when it moved.
I was speechless.
Jerky, spastic moves.
I no longer paid heed to the pain in my arms. My gaze was transfixed by animal footprints. They were leading back to where I had come from.
How was this possible?
The dog was getting up. The stench of urine invaded my nostrils.
The dog started limping. Towards my starting point.
Then I got it.
For the first time.
The weight of the buildings left my shoulders.
Seasons are a helix, infinitely succeeding each other.
My pain faded. The air was clear.
All you need to know to escape winter is this.
I walked in a trance.
That’s the only way to move on.
I passed by the dog, the distant creak guiding me.
The only way to liberate yourself.
Back and forth like a pendulum. The little girl was swinging back and forth like a pendulum.
How many seasons? How many shards of time?
The dog snarled behind me. The tree branches stirred.
For what is death if not a circle?
The little girl glanced at me. Goggled eyes of blue.
A beginning so close to the end.
The dog barked. I heard the thud of its paws on the snow; it was running.
For the last time.
A beginning monotonous, repetitive, non-existent.
The dog passed me by, the little girl screamed.
Seasons are a helix.
I grabbed the shovel.
And the winter will end.
The dog charged. I raised the shovel.
I’ll be the one to end the winter.
I raised the shovel over the little girl’s skull.
∼ Read April’s story, “The Overnight” by T.M. Morgan ∼