This short short story features in ‘Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand’, published by Canterbury University Press with the support of Creative New Zealand.
I went to London, once. I’d never seen snow before and on the first night it came spinning through the light of the streetlamps.
I’d fallen for a guy who ran a bar in Brighton. We’d gone to stay with his mum. The house was hot and had a potpourri stink. There was wine after wine. I tried to sit politely, but kept dashing to the window to watch snow thickening on the bushes outside.
I didn’t know where to put my elbows at dinner. I knocked over my glass and Pinot Noir bounced off the table, splashing his mum’s pale silk blouse. Oh, don’t worry, my dear, she said, dabbing it with her napkin. Drunk as I was, when she looked at me then I felt the same oily shiver as when I’d glimpsed eels sliding across paddocks back home.
I wasn’t allowed to sleep in Connor’s room so he snuck down three flights of stairs to mine. I woke with him lying on top of me. Snow glinted past the window above his head. Then he crept back to his room.
In the morning, I opened the front door. The air was sharp as Champagne. The sun cleared the clouds and the white garden burst into crystals.
I rushed out and made snow angels. I threw snowballs at a tree and stood beneath screaming when ice lumps broke on my head. The snow tasted delicious, metallic and pure, and crunchier than a slushie.
‘Bounds about like a dog,’ I overheard his mum grumble as I went back up the steps.
‘You’re letting out the heat,’ she said.
I turned to close the door and saw a red shape blaze across the snow.
We caught the next train back to Brighton.
He never called again.
From Bonsai. Best Small Stories from Aotearoa New Zealand.
A version of this work was published in Flash Frontier ( July 2015) and First fox (The Emma Press, 2017).