A Winter’s Tale
Suzy Stewart Dubot
Copyright©Suzy Stewart Dubot
Published at Shakespir
An Anglo/American who has been living in France for over 30 years, she began writing as soon as she retired. She recently spent seventeen months in London, UK caring for an aged relative. She is now back in France. Writing follows her as easily as her laptop. With her daughters, she is a vegetarian and a supporter of animal rights. She is also an admirer of the British abolitionist, William Wilberforce, who was also a founding member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.).
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
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Cover design: Suzy Stewart Dubot
I had only myself to blame. I knew what would happen, and yet I wasn’t able to resist. What child can? I may be fifteen but there is still more of my childish self present than the adolescent that I am supposed to be.
Snow slipped over the tops of my half-boots no matter how carefully I lifted my feet to step forward. Swirls of soft, downy snow danced about me, caressing my pink cheeks, making them pinker, I am sure. The winter wonderland surrounding me would soon lose its brightness, its magic, as evening arrived, so I knew better than to delay.
My goal was to reach the castle gate before dark. After the light had gone, I would be as good as blind, incapable of separating the different degrees of white to determine my destination. There would be no three-dimensional shades to distinguish anything from the flat, never-ending white, once night had taken its rightful place.
I brushed away the snow that clung to my winter clothing without fear of melting. A tiny glow told me that the castle was near, that I hadn’t veered off the track that would lead me to safety and entry into the security of my home.
My feet were heavy, held by the mounds of snow I was forced to cross to reach shelter, but I forged on. A satisfied sigh escaped me as soon as my boot touched the metal bridge where the snow had not clung. I passed through the arched gate to find that I had made it home again unscathed. The crossing of the threshold brought me to my bedroom.
I still tingled with the thrill of the adventure that I had just lived. It was surely comparable to scaling a rock face or descending a crevice in the earth’s surface. I had dared and succeeded with my own challenge. Buoyed by success, I knew I would be tempted to try again.
There on the shelf was the glass globe, a fairy tale castle sitting in the centre with one tiny window lit. The snow had settled at its feet, waiting for someone to shake it into motion yet again; a winter scene waiting for a child’s hand to stir its world, to bring it alive with its swirling snow.
Snow globes had always fascinated me. They were magic. I knew that a single shake would draw me in until I was able to find my way out.
This time my eyes alighted on the newcomer, a gift that I had scorned for being different.
Some clever, Chinese creator had tried to change the customary snow scene for a summer one. ‘Kitsch’ was the word that sprang to mind the first time I saw it. Although the creator had got the miniature scale right, the colours were off, bordering on garish. There were too many of them for our European taste.
Taking the glass globe, I carefully examined the intricate garden that had taken every spare space within the globe. Beds of roses appeared randomly with a birdbath seeming to sprout water. Blue pools boasted flamboyant water fowl and brown bulrushes.
In the centre, a semi-circular hedge enclosed a simple garden bench on which lay a single red rose. The rose was so delicately designed that its tiny petals looked like velvet. The only access to this haven would be through a pergola covered in masses of gaudy roses.
It was suddenly too tempting. As my hand shook the globe, I found myself drawn into summer.
This time my half-boots began to fill with those rose petals that covered the ground deeply, as others fell and swirled around me. They were much larger than the snowflakes, and I could not see the way to go to the pergola.
A hint of panic made me draw in my breath in a gasp. Rose petals suddenly filled my mouth stifling me, and for an instant, I wondered if this would be my last adventure. Who in my family would think to look for me trapped forever in a glass globe? As I spat out the petals, I promised myself that this would be the last time I would come here. If I escaped, I would get rid of the globe.
Petals parted enough for me to see the pergola, the gateway to the haven and home. As I passed through the archway, I was no longer touched by the flower deluge. The place was indeed a shelter from any storm.
A smile touched my lips as I hastily made my way to the bench and to the perfect red rose that lay there. Time was of the essence now, because I would soon be in my room again. I had to reach out to touch those plush petals before I was transported away. I grab at the rose as I felt myself slipping back to my dimension. My fingers glanced off the soft velvet and I cried out as I was once again in my room.
A thorn had torn the flesh of my palm, the only indication that I had ever been there.
The summer scene within the globe was still. Not a breath of air to move a single petal — misleadingly peaceful. The red rose, which had escaped my grasp, now lay hardly visible at the foot of the bench.
I seized the globe with my bloody hand and put it in the bin, noting with satisfaction that blood smeared the glass, a warning of danger. My eyes returned to the dozens of globes remaining on the shelf, each with its own winter theme of igloos, fir trees, German castles, Swiss chalets or Christmas with Santa.
There was no doubt.
Winter had always been my favourite season.