The Long Dark

This month I’m sharing holiday-themed guest posts. Today’s post is a bit of fiction courtesy of Vanessa Ricci-Thode. Thank you Vanessa! 🙂

The Long Dark

 by Vanessa Ricci-Thode

Shemmer awoke in the middle of the night, cold and shivering, and a little disgruntled about having been woken. At least when she was asleep she didn’t really feel the cold. She pulled the blankets tighter around her and pulled her hat more firmly over her head. She didn’t know how Summer did this for months on end with little reprieve. She almost understood why her friend was still dating a monster—at least she was warm around him.

Shemmer inched herself a little closer to Summer, huddling against her in the long dark—the longest dark of the year—and wondering if maybe it wasn’t cold she was feeling, but a physical manifestation of her friend’s misery.

Can telepaths project thoughts and feelings as well as pick up on them?

But she realized now what had broken her tenuous hold on sleep. Summer was whimpering in her sleep, and Shemmer wondered if she’d stopped crying at all this night. In the faint starlight, she could just make out the lump of her friend next to her, still clutching that damn stuffy she’d bought for Aurora, hoping for a Yule miracle.

Shemmer wrestled her hands out from under the blanket, and fumbled through her mitts to turn on the battery-powered lamp next to her. It was set to dim, but still pushed away the deepest of the night’s shadows so that Shemmer could see more than just a lump beside her.

Summer turned over, facing Shemmer and the light, and rolled right into Shemmer, bumping her.

“Aurora?” Summer asked, her voice thick with sleep and pitiful with hope. She squinted herself awake, the hope in her voice carrying into her waking expression, but when her shielded gaze found Shemmer, the light went out of her eyes. There was a beat so still it was like the whole of time had ceased, and then Summer began to sob.

“I’m sorry,” Shemmer whispered. “Just a dream.”

She slid her arms around Summer as best she could, all too aware that her small size only mimicked the child her friend missed so desperately. Part of her wondered if her presence wasn’t somehow worse. But she simply could not leave Summer to her despair.

“I don’t think this darkness will ever end,” Summer lamented.

Shemmer squeezed her tighter and wished there was something more she could do. She knew the little girl was the light of Summer’s life. She hadn’t seen the two of them together as much as she would have liked, but Summer always seemed to shine when she was with the girl. Losing her seemed to have snuffed out Summer’s very soul.

The cold night pressed in around them, and Summer finally stilled. Shemmer was certain her friend was simply too exhausted to cry anymore, and Shemmer settled in to sleep, just beginning to drift off again, when she felt Summer get up. She watched on as Summer walked out onto the balcony, still clutching that stuffy—the only gift the impoverished woman had been able to afford.

This could get interesting.

Shemmer climbed to her feet and crept out into the night to stand with her friend in the long dark.

**

Vanessa is an author and editor whose life seldom strays from the world of books, especially during winter hibernation. Even her volunteer work revolves around the literary world, with involvement in the Editors’ Association of Canada, Canadian Authors Association, and regionally for National Novel Writing Month. She’s the author of two fantasy novels: Dragon Whisperer and After the Dragon Raid, both released through Iguana Books.
When she’s not being bookish, she’s into astronomy, hiking, kickboxing, gardening, “collecting” stunning national parks across the continent, and being a massive geek. She loves Halloween and hates to be cold. Vanessa lives in Waterloo with her husband, daughter, and three crazy dogs. To learn more, visit www.thodestool.com
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