Sheila Aldous

A Week in the Cold

The winter dressed itself in a hat of cloud
the snow on Haytor a pom-pom of white dust
that spread like icing sugar over roads and lanes.

We took turns clearing the ice on the second day
and sat inside with marshmallows over the wood burner
enjoying the seclusion, playing music, drinking our
expensive Douro Port from our first anniversary holiday,
and making love.

On the third day we stayed in bed, watched the brush
of Paynes grey casting its shadow. The gloom spread
beneath the duvet. The wood store shrank and we wore
our coats indoors. We fought: the decision to go outside to
fetch
the wood; each other.

On the fourth day the snow-on-snow piled outside our
door.
The door was stuck, the last of kiln-dried oak soaking in
the yard.
So we burnt Building Dreams, House Beautiful, House &
Home.
Dartmoor hills had sunk into the Teign. We decided when
this was
over we would go our separate ways.

On the fifth day it really was the end. It was he who packed
first.
He filled cardboard boxes from the loft with Antigone and
the Iliad,
his Greek translations and the complete works of
Shakespeare.
The last straw: my first editions of Harry Potter. I offered
to burn them all. He offered to burn my clothes.

On the sixth day the clouds offered a blue patch with a
tissue-pale
sun. It winked at us through steaming glass, a jester
expecting
applause for his bad jokes. There was no sympathy when
he limped
off stage, and the main act oiled itself a brilliant canvas.
The snow
turned to liquid paper and we covered up the scratches.

Then on the seventh we walked the hills of Haytor
and he took my hand in the glove of his
as the scarf of the sky surrounded us.

Sheila Aldous has an MA in Creative Writing. She lives in Devon by the River Teign where
the forever changing scene of tides and nature, the boating community and people all bring
delight and inspiration. She has been published in Acumen, Orbis, Obsessed with Pipework, The Broadsheet and Pzazz. Her first collection will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2018.