A/N: After completely failing to write for the Pumpkin Equinox, here's my entry to the Snowman Solstice prompt in The Village Square forum! Thanks to Accidentally The Whole Fanfic for creating it! I hope you appreciate my self-depreciation on both sides, as well as the story itself!
She Was Winter
Oh, I remember you, standing there in the falling snow, cigarette hanging between your lips, burgundy from wine, ashes mixing in with the flakes falling to the ground.
I completely ignored my own just to watch you blow smoke in to the cold winter air, watching your mouth form all different shapes, imagining everything else it could do.
"It's fucking freezing out here. I hate winter," you said, abruptly shattering the silence like thin ice. "I care for my cattle and my sheep and those chickens you convinced me to hatch, and I go to the mine for gems sometimes, but after that, fucking nothing to do."
After that I remember the sound of you tapping your boots on the cobblestone, imagining it was music, as we stood outside the inn; as I watched the trail of smoke lead itself up to the sky. You had lit another cigarette before I noticed mine had burned down to the filter.
Your afternoon sky eyes, cornflower blue, you called them, your half-completed university education and pseudo-intellectualism spilling into your descriptions of nearly everything; pupils dilated by liquor, reflected the orange flame, momentarily, then only illuminated by the lights outside the building.
After another five minutes you snuffed it out in the bin near the door, "I'm going back inside, it's still early." There was a dull coating to your usually bright eyes.
"I…I'll be back in few," I told you, not wanting to waste another from my pack; it was an expensive habit. You may have been able to afford it, considering your brand and your frequency, but my family's farm was barely staying afloat.
It didn't help that the double workload since my sister ran off had added unneeded stress. So I'm not sure how much of a family farm it was at that point.
Finishing my own cigarette, I added it to the growing pile in the bin. I pushed open the heavy wood doors to see him standing next to you, leaning on the bar. Everyone always knew there was sexual tension between you two, you and him, and you both stoked that flame every so often, only to let it die at other times. The fire at the blacksmith's where he worked was an appropriate analogy for your behavior together. How often you visited the establishment was a whole other matter, to the town, to me. Anyone would ask, at times, and you would say something simple: "Going to see about a tool".
I always wondered, was it one for your farm, or was it the one between his legs?
You told me once that he'd never love you, not after Mary broke his heart by running off to a university. She was too smart for this town, in my opinion, but he thought that she decided she was too smart for him.
If Gray had pulled out a ring then and gave you up, she would have stayed, I think, but you two have been fused together through mining and your farm tools.
You told me before that you didn't want to be someone's second best; you didn't want to settle for that kind of life. All I have ever done is settle for being second best. Best friend is a word I have heard my whole life, putting another person first.
You bought each other drinks while I sat on the other side of you, watching. Both of you were so uncomfortably comfortable with each other, and I wished Karen hadn't left town. I saw old ghosts occupying your seats. A place I was once with someone else.
Looking towards the window I could see the frost attaching itself to the glass, the temperature dropping even further. There was supposed to be a storm starting in the early hours of the morning, and I had debated going home, but to leave you, with him, in the place he lived? I used every ounce of personality I could muster to convince you to leave. Now.
I said I would walk you home, and you nodded, finished your drink, tipped Doug, winked at Grey; but we both know how true that was, at least for that night, anyway. You were walking me towards your house, leading me the whole way. I wouldn't be home until tomorrow's storm died off. I should have let my mother know, but it was almost midnight, I assumed.
I was too drunk on liquor, or too drunk on lust, to be the responsible one, at least, and you were too consumed in your own being to care for anyone else, I suppose.
When we made it to the entrance to your ranch, or farm, as you corrected me, all I could see was an expanse of white. I saw paths to the barn, the coop, and all the way to the south; the way to the mines.
We entered your home. Partially warm from the smoldering fireplace; you added more wood, and stoked the fire and pulled me in to an embrace as hot at the flames touching the stones at the lowest point of the alcove.
You pulled my sweater off, my buffer from the cold. I could feel the iciness of your fingertips, raising the hair on my chest and arms; I could feel the fire warming up my back. I could feel your lips on mine, they were warm, your tongue was wet and hot, but there was no comfort in your kisses, there wasn't anything but half-hearted sighs leaving your lips.
I was an amusement to you, a momentary release; I was just there, I was just the body that came home with you.
There was nothing between us and I was nothing to you. I could melt away from you when spring came.
You could have stayed at the inn with Gray, but I had offered myself and you accepted, knowing where it was leading. You knew and were still cold, turning away on your side later in the night, leaving plenty of space between us, as the sweat dried to my skin, clamminess beginning to creep in.
I would never take those moments back, and had hoped spring would thaw you out before it washed me away.