Aurora – A short story by Michael Amos
Chione, painting by Michael Amos
The cold invaded my body, spreading from my arms to my legs and finally to the tips of my toes. It was getting so dark I could no longer see in front of me. It might be because of the sun, setting for the first time this year, or the clouds getting so dense they made it night over the icy fields which stretched into infinity. A thick curtain of white fell onto the blank canvas, filling up any tiny hole which stood resistant. I was one such tiny hole, a speck in the desert of frost. When you looked up, it felt like you hit the sky, your face covering with snow so quickly you became part of the crystal world. I kept on trudging, my boots reaching out of the ground like a swamp as deep as my waist. Nothing lived beneath the surface. There were no fish hidden among the piles of icicles. There was nothing. A world created anew, where the maker had yet to put the colour. My stomach felt as barren as my surroundings, empty and only filled with cold. I couldn’t see and I could no longer feel. I sat down. The wind blew, sending each icicle remorselessly against my face. I haven’t given up. In a world where there is nothing to hear and nothing to smell and you can’t see where you are going, moving forward is the same as going backwards, in fact you don’t even move at all. Closing my eyes, I leaned back and let the clouds cover me in snow, making me their own.
A chime echoed through the darkness, bouncing on every snowflake and making them vibrate a pure note. When the ringing of the bells reached my ears, I thought the cold had gotten to my head. When the golden song ran along the cliffs and white valleys, across the plains and all around me did I finally get up. I opened my eyes as wide as I could, and far into the distance I saw the faint glow of a light. I dropped my bags and ran. I didn’t care who or what it was, to hell it could even be Santa Claus. As the light grew in brightness and in shape, I felt I could cry and laugh. It seemed to shine a myriad of colours, sparkling against the cold and dark.
Before I knew it, I had reached a tall green gate. The light was held within a lamp perched high above the doors, spreading its warmth onto the castle in the sky. I looked back. Watching the flakes whirl and dance before me, I grabbed a handful of snow and bunched it into my pockets. Now, feeling satisfied, I was ready to push on into this mysterious looking temple.
The door closed behind me and sent a slight breeze to coil around the room. I stood shivering in the greatest hall I had ever seen. A crystal chandelier blossomed from the ceiling, each light a golden flower beaming like the brightest star. Everything was filled with colour. A desk stood at the end of the room, with parallel marble stairs leading up behind it. The steps seemed to lead joining at their end high above. I began walking along the palace-like floor, the tiles so clean and bright I could see myself in them. You could hear my steps resonate against the walls and along tall vases that decorated the room. A woman stood behind the desk, her smile the shape of a crescent moon. She nodded as she saw me lost for words, my mind as muddled as a child’s who first sets foot in Wonderland. She pointed towards a door to the side. Light leaked out from its cracks and laughter could be heard from inside the room.
As I entered, I saw a table with food piled so high they looked like golden pyramids. Exotic fish and exquisite fruits and vegetables decorated the plates and bowls. A young woman walked towards me and seemed to say a few words. Her voice was silent though, as the delicious smell filled my head so tight, I could no longer even think. Her golden hair reminded me of my wife, who had left me long ago. She sat me down in front of a warming fire, giving my hands cups and plates to drink and eat while I relaxed in the heat of the small sun. The light of the flames twisted and turned like an aurora across the cold plains of Antarctica, bewitching my eyes. I felt myself about to fall asleep, now full and no longer thirsty, when I was prodded by a young child. I looked at him in a daze as he pointed to my pocket which was still full and bulging with snow. I smiled and turned over, whispering:
“There is nothing, it has all melted away by now.”
Featured in With magazine.
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