The Writers Voice
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A movement from the corner of the room caught her
eye. Something changed. What was it? Couldn't be
a bug, nothing had been alive for months in this
long hard winter. But. . . something.
There was the book she wanted to read before
turning in. On top of the straw clothes hamper,
just a few quick steps...she stopped. She backed
up and flicked the white cotton curtain aside to
see the swirls of snow falling thick and fast
against the window glass.
From the blurred light of a lamppost at the end
of her street she could see how much snow had
already fallen, at least four feet. It was
beautiful and sterile and that much snow was not
good, not this late in the season. Who could
survive in such cold? She rubbed her arms. It
must have been all that swirling that made her
think she'd seen movement in the room. A trick of
Before sitting down on the edge of the bed she
looked at her mirror over the dresser. There was
an image...of the snow globe.
A lady. In white. Inside the globe.
She swirled her white ermine cloak It covered her
legs. She floated by the trees, in front of the
white birch slowly, slowly, then toward the first
of the black trees. The seven trees had many
branches with no leaves. Her hands were tucked
inside the folds of her cloak.
The voice sounded like a wood instrument as if
the wind sighed her name. She shivered from her
shoulders down her back. Did she hear that? Was
it out loud--here in the room or in her head?
She had tried to keep busy since her husband died
five years ago. She had her sewing projects,
especially the quilts. In the spring and summer
her garden was her pride. In the evenings she'd
read the latest mystery novel from the many she
chose in the library.
The lights blinked once, twice, then permanently
went out. Lines must be heavy with snow and down
all over she thought. In the dresser she and her
husband Donald shared for forty years she found
the emergency candle and a match. Would the phone
be out too? She lit the candle. The phone was on
the lamp table and easy to find. There was no
sound in the receiver. The shadows were thicker
against the walls than the frail light she
All right, the kitchen, there was a battery
radio. It would at least be a comfort to hear the
weather report. Just to hear the sound of a human
voice. She went into her kitchen still smelling
of the disinfectant she always used. She
sheltered the candle as she walked and found the
radio. Would the world ever become warm again?
She remembered her husband saying the winter was
so bad that July Fourth would be snowing even
while the fireworks went on. Of course that never
Laocadia carried the radio and placed it and the
candle next to the snow globe. She looked into
the globe. The snow swirled slower now, but the
lady in white stood there looking at her. She
felt her pulse throb in her neck. She picked up
her sweater. The place cooled rapidly as the
electricity that powered the furnace was off. It
was a drafty old house. Not the outer cold but an
inner one crept up her legs. She turned the radio
on; no sound. She turned the knobs faster but no
sound came out. She blew out the candle and sat
on the edge of the bed. She could think of
nothing more to do. In the dark room, Laocadia
asked, "Who are you?"
"Marzanna." The wind sighed.
"Lady Winter." She kept her voice steady and
reasonable. "I've heard of you." From Polish
stories told to her by her Babci. Marzanna was
winter, cruel and cold and lifeless.
"I am Death."
Laocadia stood and relit the candle, too uneasy
in the dark. "Whose death?"
She couldn't swallow; fear gripped her body in a
spasm. She'd always thought death was a man
dressed in black or a skeleton with a sickle, not
a beautiful woman in white ermine walking in a
forest inside a snow globe. She wanted to call
her daughter or son in law, but even if the phone
worked, could their automobile make it on roads
with over four feet of drifted snow? Was there no
one, nothing of comfort?
She was 67, not terribly old, but her heart was
not strong. She was careful since she tired
easily to not overexert herself, to not lift
anything heavy, to not stress herself. Her name
Lao was lion and cadia was heart. She was
Lionheart. Surely a Lionheart could stand up to
the Lady in White.
She watched the candle burn down. She felt
alright, certainly not ready for death. She
worked her quilt most evenings, something new she
was trying, the technique called watercolor, a
freeform of flower fabric from blue to lavender
to pink and then white. She truly wanted to enter
it in competition, see how it might do among the
other quilters. She wanted to see the
grandchildren grow a little older as well as her
child Celia. When she died, would she see her
husband again; her parents, Edward and Gene view,
grand folks, relatives, all the ones who went
before her? Or was there simply nothing. An
Did they know when death approached them or were they caught unaware? Did they feel its chill? We
never talk of it, Laocadia realized. That which
is closest to us, most personal and important,
our death, we face alone. I've never discussed it
with my husband. Or with my mother, father, with
Babci. And someday my daughter will face it.
Out of nowhere, a moth flew past her and toward
the candle. Her first instinct was to swat it
The first life since winter began in that last
part of October. She laughed with relief and
pleasure. Before she hated bugs especially moths
who were forever getting in her flour, her wool
clothes. This was the most precious sight she'd
seen in a long time. She watched its flight about
the room, circling the lighted candle.
"Winter is over, Marzanna," She crowed with
delight. "Your time is ended. See the moth? Its
over. Life has begun again." Even the tiniest
life knew the world had begun its change. The
moth flew about into the shadows above and back
toward the light.
The overhead light flickered on in Laocadia's
eyes. The furnace kicked in at once with a roar
in the previous silence of the house. The false
dawn approached as the light out her window
became less dark. She was not tired rather, more
relaxed and hopeful. She would do some sewing and
later make cookies. Her hands no longer hurt
because the snow stopped.
Later after the snowplow went through, her
daughter Celia and her two grandkids came
"Anybody hungry?" Laocadio loved seeing them this
day. "I have cruschikies and hot cocoa."
"Look, a moth." Celia pointed out. "Where'd that
come from?" The moth flew around in a circle then
headed to the sunlit window.
"Don't kill it. That's a friend of mine."
Laocadia said. And always will be, she promised
herself. Celia and the children laughed at the
thought that a plain old moth could be someone's
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