Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Therein Lies Hope
By Benjamin Stephens
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The fire crackles a taunting melody while the frost gives portent to a faceless, nameless obliteration of all I had once known and counted worthy of such remembrance.
Oh, the vile, suffocating presence that frolics just outside my door. The winds join in a banshee cry mirroring my most desperate ache. Every vestige of happier days are standing stones in memory - leaves are carelessly wrested from their boughís fertile grip - flowers parched and burned by an unforgiving frost - grass, breathless for one last fair day. Try to remember.
Yet, the harsh chill master cares little for the affections of man. Winds swirl the passionate snow and forces each flake to lodge in places both adverse and unwelcome.
My hands stiffen to the touch and my cheeks flame with the memory of such blistering cold and I rail against the injustice of this never ending onslaught.
The mantle clock ticks by so slowly that I am certain there are forces seeking to make this darkest night an endless exercise in madness. I am certain I shall be a willing slave to such lunacy before the coming daybreak.
I can not rest quietly in my own room, the edge of winter slashes and clatters anything not secure. The raging fiends of winter clash in a war for permanence. They succeed in shortening the day and obliterating the sun. They laugh in a ghoulish dance of drifting snow.
There are moments when charm is found in a break in the storm - when the sun dances on diamond crystals and the sky dazzles a brilliant blue, but this too is little more than a mirage. The winds will not leave the illusion alone and hope will find no birth. They gambol through every country farm and every forest meadow finding just enough dust to cover hope in a shroud of filth.
It mocks my desperate longing as I watch it wrench life from all who encounter its frozen fury. My heart grows black - and a cold heat leaches into my soul.
I long for the days of kith and kin, when hearty souls and fair would greet me at the garden gate and we would enjoy the leisure of Godís good pleasure as the sun played among the leaves. These were days worth remembering in story and song.
Now? I am held prisoner behind walls that barely keep the enemy at bay. I weary of solitude. I weary of the notion that all expectation has been incapacitated ad infinitum. I am simply weary beyond calculation.
In this moment I am convinced all is pointless. I can not chase the wind and I can not thwart its return. The snow flakes bend to the will of another and I am on tenterhooks as I worry about the havoc they wreak.
And what reward can man derive from such futility? What joy can be found at the end of the dark night? What comfort in the midst of calamity? None save the lone tulip rising like a phoenix from the ashes once more.
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