A Different World To This – Elodie Barnes

This is the time of year when you see it, the dance of light above the cold rooftops. Scientists used to say it came from solar winds in the atmosphere, but now we know it’s the snowbirds, their feathers brushing against the sky. It’s a dance of seduction. A dance to lure. A dance to capture those who can’t help but want to be a part of it.

We used to watch it, sometimes. She used to want to walk along the river and watch the twisting and swirling reflected in the water, the colours so vivid against the inky blackness, and she always wanted me to go too. She’d murmur how beautiful they were, how shallow, how fickle. It was frowned on, walking outside at night when the lights were spinning, but it never stopped her and so it never stopped me. I went to make sure she came back. The lights take ones like her; the dreamers, the fey ones, the ones who see eternity’s reflection in the shifting colours. They take the ones who keep forbidden books under the bed, the ones who read to lovers under the cover of darkness. They take the wild ones, the ones who never fit in. They even take the animals. Wolves live in the suburbs, and they say the lights can drive them mad.

When she disappeared, no one went looking. They blamed the walks, the poetry, the lights. They shook their heads. She should have known better.

She could have gone to the lights, but I knew she hadn’t.

When you share a pillow, you share dreams. I saw hers, clear as if they had been my own, and she was calling the snow. Night after night her body would become colder and colder with the effort. I tried to keep her warm but her skin resisted touch, and the more she called the icier it became. Ice burns when you hold it too long. She was calling the snow to take her, for when you enter a snowflake it’s like stepping into the galaxy. Endless beauty, beauty you could touch. A different world to this.

I wasn’t with her the night she finally touched her snowflake. I heard in the morning that she’d gone without trace.

Did I wish she’d taken me with her? Perhaps. But my revolution is different, I know that. I was made for winding around these streets, like the ivy that eventually strangles the tree. She was crystal – the frosty kind that dissolves on your finger. She would never have survived here, and so I never said anything. I let them talk. I let them blame. I let them burn the books that were hidden under her bed and that she used to read to me in whispers. I watched them watch the lights in fear, and I watched the snow. Held out my hands to it. Lifted my face. Waited for the light, drifting flake that would feel familiar. The one that would taste of her skin when it touched my lips.

Elodie Barnes is a poet and essayist who can be found writing in France, Spain or the UK (usually mixing up her languages). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, and she is Books Editor at Lucy Writers Platform. Find her online at http://elodierosebarnes.weebly.com, and on Twitter @BarnesElodie.

Image via Pixabay

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