Winter: The Side Table

Her fingers ran over the scars ingrained in the wood. Once polished, now lifeless and scarred and worn.

Kind of like her.

The room hadn’t seen much love in the past twenty years. Her mother had let things slide.

She crossed the threadbare carpet and opened the curtains to let a little light in. Dust floated around her, tiny specks picked out by the weak sunlight.

As a child her mother had told her there was magic in those specks. Tiny sparks that kept things going. She hadn’t been entirely wrong.

“This place needs a good clean,” a small voice said in her ear.

Winter settled on her shoulder, her fluttering wings creating a cold draft on her ear.

“I know,” Layla said. “It’s just going to take some work, and time.”

“Are you going to come and live here?”

An unasked question of abandonment hung in the air.

“No. I couldn’t. This was my mother’s home. I’m going to clean it up, then sell it.” Her eyes alighted once more on the scarred side table. “I’ll just keep one or two things.”

Winter flitted over to the table, and hovered above it. “This is special?”

“Yes. I used to sit and write at it.” Layla knelt down behind it, feeling her childish shadow kneel with her. She saw the ghost of that small hand reaching out, marking down stories of witches, fairies, ghosts and goblins.

So innocent. So young. Unscarred.

She ran a finger along a groove in the wood. “Life was a lot different then.”

Winter landed on her hand. Small ice-blue eyes met hers. “You’re hurting.”

“Yes.” A sad smile. “Remembering does, sometimes.”

Winter’s gaze dropped. “Yes, I suppose it does.”

“I’m sorry. I haven’t asked how things are at home. How are you doing?”

“The same.” The words were guarded, protected.

“You can tell me. I’m still here for you. Even though I’m away at the moment.”

“I know.” She flitted her wings. A shower of tiny snowflakes fell on Layla’s hand. “Come on, let’s get started on cleaning this mess.”

The unsaid words: then you can come home.

Winter was just as lonely as Layla.

“Okay.” Layla stood.

Winter flew over to the window. “Maybe we should let some fresh air in.”

Layla opened the window. Chilly air seeped into the room, displacing the stuffiness and dust. She took in a deep breath of it.

If only it was that simple to freshen up a heart.

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