Elizabeth loved winter.
It was that one time where nature could go nude without losing its aesthetic. Where the kids could make versions of themselves in the snow. Where families could willingly confine themselves at home with warm chocolate, cozied together around the fireplace. The one period where the sky embellishes the earth with the prettiest of snowflakes, leaving streets and cars to be covered, six inches deep of it.
Contrary to popular opinion, Elizabeth loved winter for the iota of solace it brought to her every year. In one of the corners of her spacious living room, there is an étagère with an array of different things placed on it: a key box, graduation pictures, the house landline, and a picture at the far-end of her husband. It is a single portrait and it bears no one but him, dressed in intimidating camouflage with a gun at his back. The background is photoshopped, taken in an army base but with the American flag soaring behind in a manner of patriotism.
A key aspect of her morning routine was coming to this photo after eating breakfast, picking it up at the edges, and bringing it up to her face. She stared at it like how one would stare at a sadist, looking at it until it (indirectly) stopped hurting her. The long, thin smile on his face mirrored his personality when it was still breathing thoughtful breath. The warm, turquoise-blue shade in his eyes held back torrents of trauma and pain, yet gave a reassuring sense of hope even in dark times. His hair was always skinned, down to the scalp, which amplified his perceived age in pictures. His eyebrows were bushy and thick, Middle-eastern-like, contrasted to his caucasian features which gave a hint to his mixed identity.
Iran was always a place of deep discontent for Elizabeth. The scratched, withered corners of the frame resembled the leftover feelings she had on the day the news came to her. Life stopped for a good ten seconds, picked up for two, and stopped again for 6. Everything else after that was a long blur; the kids went from teething to slipping on gowns and tassels, with the soft amber glow of the sun’s rays on the wooden interior, being discolored and withered with time, passing by.
Outside held no sense of peace either. Upon opening the door, one would think she had entered another planet. Elizabeth could barely see the floor unless floors were meant to be white-frost and extremely slippery. Moving from the door to the car, she latched the railings of the petite stairs leading towards the house and took calculated steps down. ‘At least it’s not Iran and my skin isn’t boiling’ she whispered to herself. Towards approaching his car, she rubbed her hands together to slightly ‘defrost’ them, then proceeded to open the door and went in.
An hour passed by. She was fixed in the same exact spot, his spot, watching the creaks of the car window fogged by frosts. The streets seemed feasible to drive in, if she didn’t mind getting stuck every now and then. But she knew that driving in the heap of the thick Alps ahead would not bring her closer to him, not even by an inch. All Elizabeth wanted was closure. To be nearer.
To feel like this was not what she imagined winter to be. being subdued around the crystal, jaggedly-edged flakes falling from the sky, the haze of fairytale-like houses, dark alleyways, and treeless roads. This was not the winter she imagined, but ironically, it brought a certain semblance of peace than the others. A type of reassurance, an inner awakening.
Her husband is dead and she is alone, up high in the bitter coldness of the Swiss Alps.