Child of Winter

Entry Writchal 1
Tema: Alternate history, Kaderisasi, Soviet Union


Happiness lies in comfort of the unknown. Even I know that to an extent. People long for happiness. Even I, though undeserving, long for it.

Amidst this desolated, blanketed-white, cursed land I can hold these dear, small hand with a smile. Almost as if ignoring the sin I’ve committed all throughout my life. I abandoned my humanity in search of happiness. Then I turned my back against my own self to gain my happiness back.

My happiness lies here, beside me, in the form of another human.

“Mom, can I see the sunlight?”

“Hm? You can clearly see the daylight though.”

“Mhn. Not that. I read it in the books.”

My child inquired with her eyes upturned, brimming with curiosity.

“They said that the day was brighter than any bonfire. It is so bright that the shadows are not intermingled. The sunlight shines forever bright that you cannot see it with your own eyes, else you will be blind.”

She explained, not letting go of my hand. Her other hand spun around just to visualize how bright the sun can be. And how she wished to see it, by looking up at the eternally gray-tinted sky above us.

“I wonder if it will stop.”

“…”

A wry smile sprung on my face. I couldn’t bring myself to answer her question.

Happiness lies in comfort of the unknown. What she consider as happiness, might be different from mine. But her existence is still brimming with innocence, an infant susceptible to many wrong of the world.

To correct them—nay, to prevent them, I must give light to her the harms that lies within the ways of this world. God’s creation are imperfect such that they would consider themselves as one.

“How about I tell you a story?”

“Uhm? Aren’t we close to the bakery?”

“We can always take a detour.”

“Mmmh…”

Ana pondered over a shorter route to bakery or a longer one with storytelling. Our strides are gradually shortening and we walked slower to let her choose.

“Let’s take a detour!”

“Sure, then.”

Without prying further towards her reasoning, we shifted our route on a forkroad, taking a long turnaround before reaching the bakery.

“Then, as promised, let me tell you a story.”

“Un!”

Ana tightened her grip on my hand., her smile anticipating whatever comes next out of my mouth. Our stride remained at a slow-pace, yet with each step I could feel her eagerness to listen.

“Once upon a time, there lived a witch. It is said that her power were a wish granted through a pact with the devil.

Grant thy power unto me, then thou shalt receive on my behest, vehement soul of pure damsels!

The devil agreed to her pact, only under one condition.

‘No mortal will ever be capable of withstanding the almighty authority I bear, and for you I grant one, and only one.’

Therefore the witch received her power in the form of a book, called The Grimoire. The book is said to contain every power imaginable, but there’s a catch. A single person may only use one power from the book, and the user must sacrifice a part of their body to obtain it.

One day, another girl happened to stumble upon The Grimoire, a porcelain-skinned girl with blond hair. She was an abandoned orphan during a crisis in the Kingdom of far, far north. 

Winter was not a fond memory for her. She was born and left to fend for herself during the harshest winter with barely any food. She lost her lover during a deadly blizzard in the winter. She had to move from place to place in search of fire to warm her frigid cold body.

One day, on the brink of death, the girl fell on top of a snow pile half her height.

Curse the winter,’ she said.

’Curse the cold and snow that left my life in anguish,’ she resented.

’If only I could erase winter forever,’ the girl wished genuinely from the depths of her heart while clutching The Grimoire. A trickle of blood drip down from her frozen extremities, tainting The Grimoire with a red color.

And then a faint, ephemeral whisper could be heard by her—Tell me, what will you offer in exchange of this power?

The girl, exhausting the remaining warmth left on her body, intently spoke with a muffled voice.

The only valuable part of myself, my hair.’

And thus the pact was made. Her gleaming blond hair turned into pale-white color, each strand becoming lifeless with its color sapped. Her previously wrinkled skin regained its energy as she cover herself in a blanket of pure white snow. Life returned into her eyes, a fiery rage more fearsome than the winter itself presiding in it.

She was the Winter Witch.

Filled with hatred and anguish, at her disposal was a force of nature beckoning human to stay still. The wind driving storm into blizzard. The cold driving rainfall into icefall. A force capable of sapping away all color in the bountiful land into a colorless, lifeless desert.

’I have had enough, and all of you will pay for it.’

The Winter Witch said, bearing resentment and ill-will. She trapped the whole Kingdom under an eternal winter, never again to see any sunlight nor spring of tomorrow dawn.”

I was…a bit overexcited along the way. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that in a truthful manner, though I tried my best so it would sound similar to a fairytale.

No matter how you put it, pouring your heart out towards a child, your own nonetheless, is a truly pathetic excuse of a parent.

“Mom…it hurts.”

“Huh?!”

“Your hand…”

“S-sorry, Ana! Are you okay?”

“Um…uh-hn.”

Ana shook her head slightly.

“Why don’t you tell me earlier?!”

“Because you look like you’re in pain, Mom.”

Was I, not holding back myself? Why must I feel like holding myself together? Have I…not forgiven myself?

This child, living only to never see the sunlight. Even though I promised myself to provide for her happiness. In the end, what I seek was the happiness of my own.

It’s the same.

Unchanging, all the same as I was back then.

“Why are you crying, Mom?”

How could I, after all. These hands have turned countless fire into ash—tainted in black soot, freezing to the touch. Unworthy of any warmth, yet I fear—I still fear that one day I will lose the warmth I always thought as my own.

Why…what did I do to deserve all this?

My legs gave in as I grieved.

My hands clench in fear.

This distant feeling is casting me away from standing up and reaching out to my child. It has been, always has been since the beginning. I was just fooling myself, basking in a grand illusion I selfishly created.

I dare not even raise my head. The words I’ve said, it carried more truth than comfort. What I did, what I have said, what I have done.

I thought I have left it all behind.

“It’s okay, Mom.”

Ana gave me a pat on my head.

“You know, it’s not the first time you look like you’re in pain. Mom often cries in her sleep.”

This comfort.

Ah. It’s as if…

“And whenever I gave you headpats, you always stop crying!”

The snow below pillowed the flowing tears down my cheek. A mixture of regret taken form in liquid emotion. Droplets of water, not ice. Such water is capable of rendering the snow weak—from frozen solid into lukewarm pool.

Like a child, I cried.

Almost, as if I have been pretending not to be all this time.

No, perhaps, I have always been pretending not to. Always looking away, bearing confidence in running away. And, worse of all, thinking that I am deserving of love.

How many years has it been? I had thrown my humanity long ago in search of happiness. I was too conceited, narrow-sighted, and childish back then—mistaking happiness as the suffering of others.

I did the irreversible. My hands incapable of restoring what was lost. I took my own self for granted, pretending to shoulder the misfortune of the world.

“Hnmf!”

Ana hugged me. 

My child, her hands have grown long enough to embrace me. 

Time does not stand still, even in the face of immortality. My time, it began to move again alongside her existence.

“You know, I like your white hair. It’s beautiful like falling snow in the morning,”

“And that’s not all, I love it because I have the same white hair!”

“Even if all my friends mock me for it, I will never hate it.”

“Because it’s the color of the hair of the Mom that I love!”

I wonder if this rain will stop. I wonder if I could bear living with it. This hand…are they capable of returning this embrace?

Why not?’

All you have to do is forgive yourself.

A voice resonates within. What have I been waiting for? If I return this embrace, then I believe something within me will change. Resolution, acceptance, forgivance…I could not clearly define this resolve within my heart.

But if it’s for this child, then I’ll gladly do so.

“I’m sorry, Ana.”

Using the remaining strength left, I raised my hand and hugged Ana.

“I’m sorry…”

“…I’m truly sorry…”

Ana pats my back with a slight thud. A bit too strong for comfort, but you can clearly feel the intention all the same.

“It’s not that, right?”

It’s not?

Ah.

“Right.”

How could I forget? If the cold persists, be grateful to the warmth. If the past remains, be grateful the future. If there’s no sunlight, be grateful to the snow.

I taught that to my child.

She taught me back in ways I never expect.

Ultimately, wasn’t I just teaching myself?

That this world is unbearably cruel to live in by yourself. So much, that it might distort your very own human. The longer you live in pain, the further you stray from decency. You have to figure out how to return yourself back to human once more.

And that could never be done without the help of others.

“Thank you, Ana.”

Happiness lies in the comfort of others. Even I, who believes I am undeserving of it, know at least that. People long for happiness in their own—but truthfully, happiness lies within each other.

Nobody really likes the winter. Especially up in the coldest north of Rus. Freezing cold requires a strong physique to withstand. Strong physique requires your mind to be rigid too. Living in the north is harsh, oppression of the strong begets cruelty to the weak.

I fear the winter will go on endlessly. It’s frightening to the point of heating up this cold and tired heart. A burning desire to ensure equality, just as those oppressors have taught us time and time again.

Therein, lies no happiness within this land in the winter. The weak remains still in the bottom pile of snow, their warmth sapped for the strong to live on. So when the weak obtain the means to overthrow the strong, what difference would that make?

Tell me, why do you still seek happiness when there is none?


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