Detta and Frena saw stories in everything: in bark and boulder and banks of snow around the farm; even the pictures on their bedroom wall. And the sisters filled the empty spaces between with whispered tales.
“Who is she? The woman pulling the sleigh of firewood,” Detta asked in hushed tones, her tiny body thrown together with Frena’s in the cold ravine of their spring-lumped mattress. The moon shone on the Giovanni Segantini snowscape, just as it did on the white-caked ground outside.
Frena pulled the duvet over her chin, her breath smoking its laced edge in the icy room. “She’s a sorceress, Detta, and the twisted sticks on the logs aren’t branches. They’re vipers.”
Detta looked at the contorted forms slumped over the tree stumps on the woman’s sleigh, skeletal legs trailing the snow. “No, not vipers Frena; corpses.” And she spun her sister a story of stolen children.
While Frena slumbered, Detta lay awake, afraid and unafraid. She felt the painting drawing her in, but instead she dressed and went out onto the porch. She found her skis, hooked the metal clasps of her boots into the clips, yanked the levers down with trembling fingers, and pushed off into the dark.
Swish, slap, swish, slap, she slid towards the night-washed buildings with their little squares of yellow; overhead the luminous mountains electric, sparking her skin. As in the painting. Then Detta saw her , the black-clad figure pulling the sleigh, up ahead, drawing her in. Drawing her in.
Published in the February edition, ‘Whispers,’ of Flash Frontier under the title ‘Returning from the woods’ here: http://flash-frontier.com/2015/02/23/february-2015-whispers/