Shovel

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.

Again.

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.

The playground.

Again?

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.

March 2022

∼ Read February’s story, “No Lovie” by Koji A. Dae ∼

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