I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas! And ask you: what is your favorite Christmas tradition?
And for those of you out there who won't have a white Christmas, here's a scene I wrote inspired by the winter wonderland I live in:
The river's green-black water rushed steadily under the ice, the blood of the world, ever pumping even in the middle of winter. Where the tree branches broke through the snow, they stood out more sharply in the chill, hyper-real. Snow eddied around her on the winds, and she pulled her coat tighter, shivering.
She spotted the blackened notch she'd made on a tree near her cabin and straitened her course, picking up her heavy feet, laden with boots and cold, a little faster. She came into a small clearing and got blasted by heavier winds. They shoved her back a foot before she lowered her shoulder and pushed on. She almost tripped over the bucket, but managed instead to pick it up and scoop some snow into it, being sure not to dig deep enough to scrape the ground. The cold of the handle began to drain heat from her fingers even through her fur-lined gloves. Then she pushed open the door to her cabin.
Warmth enveloped her, and she shut the door as quickly as possible, so that none of it would escape. Then she breathed, and heat seeped in through her lungs, helping to ease the ache from her time outside. She'd been gone too long that time. She shouldn't be so reckless.
Then she looked at Sifearon, a dog-sized dragon she'd found gorging on the remainder of an elk she'd managed to find and kill. She had taken two legs to her cabin, and decided there was enough daylight left to return and get as much else as she could before it froze solid. She'd raised her weapon to kill him, too, knowing that even at his small size a dragon was extremely dangerous. Then he's sensed her and raised his head, but only by a foot. She saw how loose his skin was, then let her eyes roam to the trail he'd left getting to the elk. It was obvious he'd dragged himself forward on his belly. And then as she looked at his eyes she'd seen the angry resignation that filled them, and lowered her weapon.
She'd motioned at the carcass, and he'd managed to pack another several pounds down his gullet. Then she'd brought him home to her cabin and laid him in front of the fire, and after a day he started producing enough heat himself that she didn't have to use as many logs.
His scales were pine green, his eyes the color of bark. He was as gorgeous as the deadly world around them, and she loved him. But finding enough meat to feed them both was hard, since most of the animals had hidden to hibernate or wandered to the south, and Sifearon could eat three times what she could in a sitting and still be starving. She hunted longer, now, trying desperately to find enough to keep him alive until spring. She'd begun looking for bears even, to see if she could get a clean stroke while they lay sleeping. She hadn't found any.
Sifearon breathed on her hands, sending a prickly flush and a burning sensation up her arms. She knew they weren't really burning, it only felt that way because she'd gotten too cold. "You couldn't find anything." The look of defeat was back in his eyes. He was still too weak to hunt himself. Her arm muscles were the same width as his.
She stroked his cheek, his scales scalding her like furnaces. She didn't pull away. "I know."