Forever Winter (Part 1)

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THE LADY OF THE JARS

It was snowing. It always snowed. That’s how she liked it.

The swirling white that enveloped everything, dusting and smothering all in a wonderland. There was more variety in snow she’d always thought. A sunny day was nice, for a trip to the beach or a stroll in the park; but sunny days were predictable, ordinary. It was what everyone wanted. Snow, on the other hand, created such chaos and difference.

Her cottage was nestled right by the huge stream that swept through the core of the little village of Hamani. It was near enough for her to grab the things she needed from the stores and the like, but just far enough on the outskirts where she could find the solitude and quiet that she relished. That’s not to say she was lonely. She was always visited upon by someone knocking on her door and trampling their life into her small little abode. Each day brought something her way, but she always had the choice of opening that small blue door of hers to see what awaited. Some days she would sit by the fire, listening to the rhythmic knocking on the door, picturing not the tired salesman trying to entice her to part with her coins; but instead the small wood pigeons or pheasants tapping their beaks on the wood.

She had been called many things in her time. She wasn’t old, though some days her bones seemed to be. She would bustle around her cottage with the spirit of a teenager, ignoring the small ache in her joints. The cold heightened it, but she would never admit that.

‘Witch’, that name had been thrown her way once. Princess too, though that had been even more painful to hear.

Most saw her as a wise woman with magic, but of the good kind that you knew you were safe to enquire about. She knew the flowers and the herbs, the healing nature of the world that surrounded her small little cottage by the stream with the forest overstretching its reach to her doorstep. People came with their children who would play in the snow and then toast themselves by the fire while their parents would acquire an ointment or potion to help with some pain. Sometimes the kids of the village would come to hear the stories she would tell over huge bubbling cups of hot chocolate, and ginger snaps to munch and make a mess with. The towering piles of books that dotted her home loomed over all who came there. Hers was a place of possibilities, and it was called ‘Dustings’, and she was the ruler of her own little kingdom.

Though she was an honest soul, people had no idea of the true power that dwelt in her little home. They saw the plants and spices that filled every drawer and nook. The witch hazel and birch that swirled in its hued state on the walls. Secrets gained from the botany books and fables that stuck out of sideboards and were lodged under table legs. But they did not know, and they never would, of what she kept in her secret room.

It had always surprised her really. No enchantment had kept it hidden, and the noise and light that came from the tiny room at the back of her cottage was enough to entice even the most mildly curious pair of eyes. Yet secret it remained, an indication of the respect many had for her more than fear.

Locked by a tiny key she kept around her neck; the secret room was not large at all. More of a storeroom usually catering to stored foods or cleaning materials. But here, here is where she kept her jars. Luminous and terrifying, magical and mesmerising. The jars were small really, able to be held in the palm of your hand. Each one filled with light and motion. She bottled them you see, the weather systems. She kept all aspects of the elements, siphoned off into their purest forms and then bottled. Her own collection of small ships. How she had learned to do this, only she would ever know. But there they are, lined up next to each other on her shelves in her secret place. She would rotate them into seasons, or sometimes calamities. A good thunderstorm would go well with heavy wind and hail.

These bottles were most precious to her, and she never misused them. She was always mindful of the good she could do, and the darkness she would always be able to lighten. Most precious of all were the snow-scapes. The blizzards and the flurries raging away in their little jars which had cooled to a frosted glass beauty there on the shelf. These she kept in their own section, away from the heatwaves and the monsoons. She would sometimes come and sit by these little vials and watch the dance of nature there contained behind the glass. A snow globe of the most literal sense. She wasn’t playing god with her treasures; she was only capturing the beauty of god.

These names the people had for her, she always smiled when she heard them muttered in hushed tones. But to herself, she was always the lady of the jars.


 

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