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Winter Dreams

by Michelle Ackmann
copyright 05-26-2005


Age Rating: 18 +

She sank down slowly and immersed her old and tired body into the nearly scalding bathwater tinted with the green scent of jasmine blooms. The scent invigorated her and brought her back to the days when she was a young girl walking through the gardens of her grandmother’s estate. It seemed so long ago and yet the scent still lingered and the steam still rose in curls. The bathtub was full and the mirrors were fogged and the night was still young, but edging towards that older moment when she would fall fast asleep enveloped and entranced in her own memories as John slept beside her. Her long brown hair cascaded in the water and sprang into soft, wet curls. She closed her eyes and remembered when she was younger and when things weren’t complicated and when it made life seem like living.

* * * * *

Outside the snow was falling and accumulating into drifts within short periods of time. The wind was bitter and seemed to freeze everything and everyone into their tracks, but inside, Samantha, was sinking slowly into a warm reverie with an untold end. The street stood vacant and the cars were parked. There was no one on the road tonight and the street lamps were flickering, making shadows dance across the landscape.

* * * * *

The television was on, some comedy. John yawned and changed the channel. A movie was on about two young boys running away from tyrannical parents in a last ditch effort to make believe they could take care of themselves on their own. John chuckled and remembered when his son and daughter had tried the same thing. “They always come back,” he said with a small laugh. The couch was comfortable tonight and he laid across it with the oversized pillows at his head and foot. He changed the channel and saw the weather was on. “We’re expecting heavy amounts of snow this evening accompanied with high winds. It should cease by tomorrow evening totaling nearly two feet. Be prepared for a long drive on the interstates.” The guy looked like some jock straight out of college. His hair was slicked back and he wore perfectly pressed clothes and had the bluest eyes and the whitest teeth, “What a jerk,” John murmured. The grandfather clock ticked loudly and rang at 7pm. John was snoring.

* * * * *

She heard the clock chime from downstairs and silently wondered what time it was. The water was still hot and the steam hung in the air. She felt like a flower in a greenhouse, but one that would never bloom, she thought bitterly. Her eyes closed and she saw herself walking through the snow. The snow was falling with gentle, big flakes that landed on her nose and eyelids and created the illusion of purity in the landscape. The lake beside her was frozen with a small wet spot in the center. She walked towards it and felt her feet slip on the ice beneath her. The clouds were heavy in the sky and the snow seemed like it would never end and she turned away from the tempting spot and walked back towards the house. She knew the house from her childhood and the barn that stood next to it, vacant. Her father had long since sold the horses resulting from bad financial bets he had made and they were lucky to still have the house. There was smoke rising in the chimney and she suddenly realized how cold she was and walked a little more briskly. She was twenty-two and fearing that she was becoming undesirable. Her father had been talking about finding her a young man, but she kept insisting that she was happy by herself, but that wasn’t the way a young woman of her stature behaved, so her thoughts were overridden. The house was filled with light and she heard unfamiliar voices being carried throughout. She heard a young man speak and wondered who it was, as there weren’t any unmarried men her age around town anymore. She carefully folded her things and hung her coat up and announced herself in the living room. Standing there before her was a young man, maybe about twenty-five in an old suit mischievously grinning at her. She looked into his eyes and saw warmth and kindness and smiled back at him. She was hypnotized with his eyes and barely heard her father introduce her to John Whitman. She held out her hand and he gently grasped it and for the first time in her life, she felt comfortable with a man touching her.

* * * * *

The cars in the street were buried in the embrace of the snow. The lights barely shined enough light to illuminate a small room. The tree limbs drooped from the weight of the snow and the wind howled and whipped through the streets. The lights were on in the Whitman house and the windows were only slightly fogged up around the corners. The house looked warm and inviting.

* * * * *


John startled himself awake and walked towards the kitchen. His faded pajama pants were scrunched above one knee and his shirt was wrinkled. He opened the fridge and took out some orange juice. As he set it down on the counter he suddenly didn’t feel like juice and returned it to his wife’s organized place. He grabbed a tumbler from the cabinet and dropped a few ice cubes into it. The clanging noise sounded like church bells and he was instantly reminded of his wedding day, nearly thirty years ago. The scotch was in the bar and he limped his way back into the living to pour himself a glass. Filling it nearly to the top he took a large drink and sat back on the couch. The movie was over and he turned the channel. He came upon an educational show about mummification in Ancient Egypt and watched with interest as the English narrator told of how they prepared their dead for their afterlife. The glass was empty and he filled it. The snow looked like dots floating into the house. John closed his eyes and let the glass fall onto the fluffy white carpet and spill.


* * * * *

The engagement of Samantha Micoletto to John Whitman was announced in the Stoneybrook Gazette and the happy couple ventured off to New York City to find a ring and a dress. They were going to be married at Samantha’s church with a reception by Samantha’s lake by her house. She had never felt happier and remembered with glee how she felt the day she announced to all her friends that she was getting married. No one ever thought she would because of her interests in feminism and for the fact that no one had asked her from Stoneybrook. But, things change and Samantha was lucky her parents knew so many people. John had bought her ring from Cartier’s and she spent hours staring at it in the sun’s reflection. She was soon going to be Mrs. John Whitman and she could hardly wait.

Some thirty years later, she was lying in a tub with warm water to her neck wondering if what she had done with her life was enough for her. She wasn’t sure how she felt about living to an older age and recently began to wonder if John had been the right one to marry. She loved John, with all her heart, but she couldn’t help but wonder if there was someone else out there destined to have married her and it now alone somewhere wishing for her. She heard John snoring and sighed. She drained half the tub and refilled it with hot water. The scent of jasmine wafted through the air and she laid back and inhaled deeply.



* * * * *

The street was no longer visible outside and the cars were completely buried. It was the worst storm this area has ever seen. The wind screeched through the area and shook the windows until nearing the point of breaking. There were tree branches scattered across the yards and limbs hanging precariously in the wind, dangling.

* * * * *

John saw himself running through a field. He didn’t know why he was running, but he felt fear. He screamed and fell into a hole. It wasn’t a large hole, but it wasn’t a small hole. He climbed out and kept running. He heard a voice in the distance, squealing in pain, and he ran. He ran until his lungs felt like they had exploded. Up ahead he saw a house. He thought it funny that it wasn’t there before, but had just showed up, but ran up to it and banged on the door. An old woman answered the door looking extremely pleasant and John collapsed on the floor. He looked up at the old woman and saw that she wasn’t an old woman, but a young man with a knife. John was dreaming.

* * * * *

She wondered how long she had been in the water. Her hands were pruned and her body so relaxed it felt numb. She hated her life. She hated the fact that after caring for two children for over twenty years so felt alone and though she knew longer had a purpose on this earth. She had John. John was like a child. She remembered reading somewhere that there are only two stages of life, being a child and being an adult. In all reality, when a person gets old they become a child again, therein, two stages. She knew John loved her and respected her, but he needed to grow up. She glanced up at the counter and saw her bottle of Paxil and decided she needed one. She reached over and brought the bottle to her lips and shook three into her mouth. ‘Why not,’ she thought, ‘Maybe it will speed up the process.’ She lay back against the tub and stared intently at her wrists. “Where are my veins,” she silently thought.

* * * * *

The wedding between Samantha and John had been spectacular. Her dress was specifically designed for her and her ring was the envy of all the women in town. After years of talking about her they had finally been forced to shut their mouths. The church bells rang for what seemed like hours. Samantha grinned the whole time, not believing her sudden luck. John looked nervous, as most men are, but he smiled and let tears fall down his cheeks when he saw Samantha walk up the aisle. He would never forget the way she looked when she went from innocent young woman, to a woman. The ceremony seemed to take so long and they went back to Samantha’s lake and joined the party. Near the end of the evening John and Samantha strolled away from their guests and enjoy the beauty of the July sky painting its picture upon the placidness of the lake. They looked up and wished for a happy healthy marriage and kissed under the full moon.

* * * * *

Cars were no longer visible outside and the drifts piled high against the doors and windows. The lights still flickered and the wind still blew. Dark shadows danced across the Whitman house.

* * * * *


John woke up with a loud sigh and turned off the television. It was another wasted night filled with drunken dreams and longings. He turned the television back on and watched the news. It was the same as always; robberies, murders, and the occasional rape or stabbing. It was nothing out of the ordinary. He looked at the pictures adorning the walls. He focused on his wedding picture and smiled with memories. He saw his kids, Alana and Peter, progressing in age from about age five to twenty or so. They were both married and in the process of starting their own families and hadn’t been in this house for years now. He was suddenly thrust back to when Alana was seven and Peter was five and saw them playing in the back yard. He would have sworn on his life that he was watching it through his window, but when he opened his eyes, all he saw was the white of the thick snow. It was like a blank memory waiting to have memories written on a perfectly empty canvas. There was no color outside, just white. Even in the pale light of the streetlamp it seemed so bright that he wanted to shade himself away from it. He thought of Samantha then. She hadn’t been happy since Peter left the house, nearly three years ago in April. He wondered if he should go upstairs, hesitated, and then decided to stay in the living room and maybe watch the Late Show with that guy with the big chin, Jay Leno or something. John closed his eyes and saw Samantha’s eyes. It was her eyes that his first fell in love with, cerulean blue. They seemed to light up any room she was in. It was almost as if she reached up to the sky and decided to add just a little more blue and a little more sun to it and then place them in her eyes. That’s what he thought of when he looked into her soul. He lay back onto the couch and flicked through the channels, creating a hypnotizing strobe light. He looked dead, just laying there with flashes of light every second.

* * * * *

She hadn’t been happy in years. John never knew she was on anti-depressants. She hated her life at times and wished that she had someone else to talk to besides John. He was an intelligent man and she enjoyed his company, but sometimes he became a flat person to talk to. Peter was a comedic man and made her laugh often. Since he moved out so did the laughter, so it seemed. She wondered what death would be like and became excited. She looked at the vanity counter and saw her cuticle scissors. With soapy water dripping from her arm, she reached over and grasped them. While lying in the tub she gently cut into her flawless skin. Although it caused pain at first, she watched in awe as bright red blood dripped into the water. She retraced the cut over and over and before long, the water became a soapy mass of red water. She lay back against the white porcelain and listened to the clock ring in a new hour. With her eyes closed, she breathed one last breath before it began to hurt. The water was no longer transperant and she could only see red. Her eyes closed, she envisioned her family; John so strong with tiny crow’s feet at his eyes when he smiles, Alana with her bright eyes, and Peter with his mischievous grin he had inherited from John. She pictured them as happy and sank slowly in the red water, letting the water fill her lungs with its bitter taste.

* * * * *

The snow kept falling in what resemble a nothingness of white. There seemed no end to the destructiveness of nature. She didn’t want to let the world run like it was supposed to. It was the death of warm weather and life for a few days and the wind blew drifts against the doors as if to block their residents in. There was no way out. The snow kept falling with tints of red from the dim streetlamp.

* * * * *

With the television blaring, John decided to give up on the Late Show. He was becoming old and wanted to go to bed. His life was meaningless now. He had been forced to retire from a job he had held since he was in his twenties and now had to find things to do around the house. Samantha was always afoot so he could no loner savor the sweet drag of a cigarette. She was upstairs and he snuck to the kitchen and found an old Winston and lit it on the stove. He opened the back door and was amazed at the wall of snow that he was presented with. Pushing his way through, his pajamas getting wet, John blew his smoke into the air watching it meander through the seemingly never-ending snow. Fearing catching a chill, John jumped back into the kitchen and locked up the house. The stairs seemed endless as he climbed each one with a loud creak. He wasn’t sure if the creaking noise was that of the stairs, or of his aging bones. He was surprised to see the light on in the bathroom and walked into his bedroom. He was all wet and changed into some dry clothes. He could smell the cigarette smoke on his clothes and decided to take a shower before bed. The bed was empty and he wondered if Samantha was still in the tub. “She can’t be,” he thought, “It’s been hours.” When he entered the bathroom he saw her. Her beautiful hair was matted to his head and she was half submerged. He could smell the blood in the air and closed his eyes. “It’s all a dream, it’s all a dream,” he kept repeating, but when he reopened his eyes he saw her as clear as day. She was gone. His lady of the lake was gone. John felt as though his heart had been ripped out and he watched as it was set afire. He felt cold and tired and felt the tears fall down his face. The floor was wet with blood red water and he felt himself fall. With his skull cracked open and blood pouring from his nose and mouth he whispered, “I love you my love, I love you.” He silently closed his eyes and fell into an abyss of darkness.

* * * * *

The flashing lights illuminated the dark and quiet street. The snow was falling, red snow. The ground was covered with tiny spots of red making the street look like a river of blood. There was no end and no beginning, only a middle that seemed endless. The streetlamps flickered and the lights shined. The street was no longer empty but rather filled with curious neighbors in their messy nighttime ensembles that were hurriedly covered with clumsy winter coats. Their faces aghast they watched as the lights played tricks with their eyes. The sirens screamed away and they walked back into their cozy homes and turned out the lights. They would worry and wonder about what they had seen tomorrow. The snow was white again and it fell in perfect harmony covering any evidence that people had invaded its design. It suddenly became dark and only the snow seemed to glow to shed light into the darkened souls of the world.






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        10-10-2011     aprilchicken        

This is a very good story, I enjoyed it a lot. The imagery, especially with the red snow, was incredible. Good job! It was sort of a shocking end, at least I believe, but it was also quite a nicely told story. I do agree with Anthony, I think it could be strung out a bit more. Maybe some more details and such.

        06-03-2005     Anthony Lane Stahlhut        

Sort of a Romeo and Juliet kind of ending.The story jumps a lot and though it is life like, I think it needs to be drawn out more. The end seems rushed and I would like to see more there,too. This is a good story and I enjoyed the read, Anthony



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