Warmth

The sound is what I remember most.

The wind. It sounded like screaming. An angry woman screaming.

Or maybe it was crying. Sad, hopeless crying. The kind of crying that you hear somebody cry when they find out that their spouse or child has died. The kind of primal crying that you can’t stop or control. You taste it and feel the angst; the loss…and yet you can’t make it stop.

That sound scared me more than the situation we were in. Because I could stop hearing the helpless voices in my head, but I couldn’t stop hearing that screaming/crying. The fear was a feeling that wouldn’t go away. The voices would hush, but the fear sat right in my lap.

I couldn’t relax. Couldn’t concentrate. The phone wasn’t working and nobody knew that I hadn’t made it back to my house from my mother’s house. She died a month ago, and I came to check on things. The storm? Came out of nowhere.

The cold was totally indescribable. After waiting for hours for it to stop, it just kept coming. It seeped into everything. Everything. I had on layers upon layers of clothing, and the baby laid shivering on my chest, skin to skin. We couldn’t get warm. The baby was whimpering. I think that he somehow understood how afraid I was and was trying to avoid causing me anymore stress. And as the minutes ticked by and my tension turned into comfort, he slowly dosed off. But I couldn’t stop the cold.

Just one drink, I thought to myself. Just one drink to ward off the cold. I won’t be so afraid if I can just get some warmth.

The sweet, dry taste of wine warmed my tongue, my cheeks, my throat…down to my empty stomach. I instantly felt warmer, more in control. More able to handle the screaming. The baby slept on.

One more. It will calm my nerves and help me think more clearly. I won’t be as afraid.

But one more turned into two, three more. The bottle was gone.

I have to stop…try to figure out what to do.

But the warmth of the wine was smooth, relaxing. Comforting. It helped deaden the screaming – turned it into nothing more than a loud, irritating whisper.

There was no heat. No light. No food. No communication with the outside world. The baby had his formula, I had my wine. Bottles of it. We were okay. For now. Except the fear, gnawing at my brain.

The baby was stirring. Was it already time for him to eat? I’m so tired now. The fear and unknowing was wearing me down. Another glass of warmth would calm my nerves.

I’ll just finish this second bottle and then try to sleep. Things are always more clear in the morning.

The baby was crying, and trying to get out of the inside of my sweatshirt. I knew he was hungry, tired, needed to be changed. But the screaming of the wind wouldn’t stop; it was daring me to step outside and have a look into the darkness. I was hot and needed to get some air.

I hear my name in the night. The taunting howl. I want to look – to see what is calling me. I am stronger than the wind.

But the baby won’t stop crying. I push him into my breasts. I want him to be quiet so I can hear the taunt.

The baby won’t stop. The wind keeps calling me. I step outside. I’m not cold anymore.

And so it goes…

I wrote this prompt for Red Writing Hood in response to the prompt: “You are trapped (alone or with others) in a single location during the fury and/or aftermath of a blizzard of historic proportions.” And I wanna know…why is my fiction always so dark?

Comments

  1. DIAPERS in the DESERT says:
    Wonderfully written. I was glued to my seat with every word!
  2. I have one word - Awesome!! I really wish I could write like that!
  3. The Twin Spin says:
    Seriously. You always give me chills!
  4. Chills are quite appropriate with a tale about a blizzard! You do have a dark side to you :)
  5. Okay, Natalie? You have seriously given me the creeps!
    This is so chilling, so desperate.
    I love the idea of the screaming cold...and I know the warmth of wine.
    That this story just came to you? Just like that? Amazes me. I'm in awe.

    My only thought is this: I know that you probably had the baby on formula because the mother was drinking, but I think it would be even more powerful...more desperate...if she was nursing the baby. You could say that they baby was lulled by the traces of wine, or something like that. A woman that afraid, that desperate for protection and solace, would likely find a way to justify her drinking while nursing.

    Awesome job, Natalie.
    This isn't a story that I will soon forget.
  6. Good Lord, woman! This freaked me out completely! Really well done and I can just feel that wind howling through my bones...

    I agree with Nichole. A woman that out of her head wouldn't think about the baby as she drank her wine. The formula kind of got in the way of the flow.
  7. I know that "screaming" except for me that screaming came in the form of howling coyotes.

    Definitely creepy!
  8. Wow. This was amazing. I had a knot in my stomach and my shoulders tensed as I read it.

    I would have to agree that the nursing would have flowed a bit better with the baby rooting around for warmth and food.

    Other than that...way to channel your dark side!
  9. Damn, I'm glad it's not snowing. You're all kinds of creepy tonight!

    Also, I kind of want a bottle of wine now...
  10. I love the darkness.. well done!
  11. Whoa, intense and chilling. Amazing that this all came from you after that prompt. I'm cold just from reading.
  12. Brandon Duncan says:
    Well this just opens up for all kinds of horrific follow on thoughts! Nicely done!
  13. Snuggle Wasteland says:
    Well done! I think you could keep going with this one and turn it into a novel.
  14. What the... Lady! this is creepy on so many levels. So intense and scary. I wonder how you thought of this... Goes with the prompt so well...
  15. WOW! This gave me chills and I was glued to every word!
  16. The Empress says:
    This is a fantastic start. Don't forget about this one, keep on going with it.
  17. Belle's Butterfly says:
    As always, amazing. You are such a talented writer. This story is absolutely bone chilling.
  18. MommaKiss says:
    You know we've suffered a few blizzards up in here, right? Jaysus woman!
  19. Wow! Creepy and chilling - mesmerizing.
  20. OK, that was pretty intense. Great use of the prompt, Natalie! And maybe the reason your fiction goes to dark is that your imagination runs wild with the "what-ifs" in life.....and you do an awesome job of it!
  21. I know how hard it is to put youself out here with fiction ~ in a way, you make yourself more vulnerable than in a very raw post of truth.

    Because you MADE IT UP and therefore, are setting yourself up for judgment.

    When someone writes about a real tragedy, readers nod, perhaps become misty-eyed or even cry.

    But they don't critique the ending because it actually happened that way.

    When you create a situation - the setting, the characters, the circumstances- you really are offering yourself up for questions, opinions; for people to not get what you were trying to accomplish.

    So big high-fives to you for your bravery, Natalie. Seriously.

    (I just wanted to add something new to the comments - because everyone else already said what I had been thinking: edge-of-your-seat tension...
    And wine. Nice.)
  22. Mrs.Mayhem says:
    This is excellent writing. I hope you continue the story. I want to find out what happens next!
  23. Andrea (ace1028) says:
    Whew. That was fantastic. I will agree that the formula confused me for a second, because then I thought she was going to nurse him. But then I was left hanging, not sure what she was thinking, and that pulled it all back together. I think it was incredible. Great writing. Fantastic, Whew - took my breath away a bit.
  24. I really liked that the antagonist of the story switches from the storm to the wine. I thought the writing reflected nicely the slow, sneaky decision dampening effect that wine can have, and surely more so when heightened by fear.
  25. Great job with this. I want to read more!
  26. Amber Page Writes says:
    Where oh where does she go? I like this. I like it a lot.
  27. Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds says:
    I'm scared! Being trapped in a blizzard alone with an infant is a nightmare. Maybe she should have saved some of that wine!
  28. You weren't kidding about it being a dark piece. Desperation does terrible things... and the line, "the fear sat right in my lap?" Such a wonderful, awful image, especially when you realize she's also got the baby wrapped up with her...

    ::shudder::
  29. Eerie and chilling. Brought the freezing cold wind to me.
  30. This is absolutely phenomenal. No, I really mean that. It is short, powerful, and to the point. I am very, very impressed with your writing! I had no idea you were so talented.
  31. And then what?! I want to keep reading.
  32. Ericka @ Creative Liar says:
    I agree with the formula comments and I'd actually cut the last line. I like the idea of her not being cold anymore and not knowing if she and the baby survives (as morbid as that sounds).

    And you've done a great job with pace here. It reads like her heartbeat racing and that takes talent which you have. :)
  33. This was so well done!
    The blizzard. And fear and voices.
    I was there.
  34. The mad woman behind the blog says:
    I almost felt as if the blizzard was her imagination. That the screaming woman was in her head.
    And I could hear her!
    I now must cleanse my mind w/ some humor.
    Your story will haunt me otherwise.
  35. Sluiter Nation says:
    sweet sassy mo-lassy, girl! this one is DARK! everyone sort of went to the dark spot with this one...which is why I can't read too many in one sitting.

    I LOVED this. Your words flow so well...they are so...gripping!

    I have to say I agree with the comments about the formula. I was not even a breastfeeder, but I felt this story would have worked better if she started by thinking, "oh a few sips won't hurt him and it will keep me warm" and then progressing with the justifying.

    It also took me awhile to figure out that they were still inside the house. And not stuck getting back home--I take it the heat was off because the mom had been dead and no one lived there.

    But really? This is great piece. I hope you come back to it.
  36. This from the woman who said she didn't even know she was a writer...great job Natalie!