View Full Version : The Night and other short stories

2007-10-13, 05:45 AM
The Night

There is always one, right before the spring. A Night.

The day before the Night is easy to recognize. It is almost springlike, the wheather warm and sunny. A sort of day when you'd expect to see the first buds on the branches of willows and hear the first songs of birds, the forest and the field filled with tiny, waking life.

And on the day before the Night, this is not so. When you step outside your cottage, the forest and the field is completely silent. No birds in the sky. No buds on the willows. No squirrels on the trees. This is the only warning that is given. Somehow, the animals know what is coming, know when the Night falls.

That day, before the Night, all the tasks are done with frightened haste. No children are allowed outside, that day. Just in case. No one goes from the range of eye of their homes, to avoid getting lost.

On the day before the Night, the doors and hatches are locked with hours of daylight left. A roaring blaze is prepared, and all the holes are filled with furs. And then the people wait, none daring an eyeful of sleep on that Night.

On the one Night, before the spring, the wind blows from the northern mountains with unseen fury, bringing an icy rain that turns to hailstones that turns to snow. The temperature plummets like a hawk after it's prey. People huddle together, silent. Despite the fire is fed constantly, it wanes.

On that one Night before the spring, exactly at midnight, the fire dies, despite the best efforts. A howling wind surges through the hearth. Then the men in the primes brave from below the blankets, and close the iron hatch of the chimney. Most of them back away again, but the few who have reached their manhood only recently remain near the hearth. Raps and taps are heard from the hatch, and the wind howls like an enormous beast on their roof. The raps and taps grow into battering and beating, until a terrible screech is heard, like a knife through their ears. Then it stops.

One the one Night before the spring, after midnight, the tension is relieved. The young men return to the others to treat their frost bites, and the elderly tell myths, stories and tales. The wind settles down, a mere faint whistle around them. The danger has passed their house.

The day after the Night is just like the one before, with one exception. It is filled with life. The birds and the squirrels come out of their nests and hides. The willows bud. Snowmen and women are built to help the passing of the frozen victims to the netherworld. The day is filled with general relief and jollyness, usually preceding a series of marriages and pregnancies, not necessarily in that order.

The Night of the Winterfrost has passed. Triumph!


Critique and feedback would be appreciated.