The prompt at Writer's Island this week is: Season
Here's my response:
I pause to try and catch my breath; I can feel the droplets of sweat rolling down my back like a river, between my shoulder blades. The woollen garments I wear cling to my skin with a horrid sort of tenacity, and I can almost hear the sound they make as they rub against my skin. I glance up into the bright sunshine, it burns into the lenses of my eyes and I have to look away for a moment. The glare of the white snow all around reflects the rays of the sun and takes my sight away from me… but still I can hear the grunts and wheezes of the men around me as they push the sledge up the edge of the glacier. I’m only one of the team working so hard to reach the South Pole; we’ve come so far through the snow and ice, pushing the sledges, feeding the horses and then shooting them, feeding them to the dogs and always moving on with an unaccountable determination inspired by Captain Scott himself, moving on tirelessly towards our goal. And still the sun burns down without ceasing, mixing day and night so that they become one, and the seasons are confused. Like several of the other men, I peel off my outer layers of clothing so that I’m wearing just my long woollen underclothes and boots of course. I feel ridiculous even though there’s no one really to mind, as all the other members of the team have done exactly the same. Including the captain himself, I believe. We must be nearing the top of the glacier now, I’m sure… perhaps there on the plateau we can rest… it’s difficult to tell the time when the sun is up all day and all night, but it must be nearly lunchtime for my stomach is rumbling. I kick the snow from the side of the sledge to help it up the sharp incline, though I don’t know if it will do anything at all for the snow is as much a part of this natural scenery as anything, and has more right to stick to the sledge than I have. “Let us stop here for a while,” called out the captain from the front of the sledge. “We have reached the plateau now, and we deserve a special Christmas dinner… we’ll go over there, beside that incline.” The captains voice became louder as he walked towards me. “ Unpack the food we brought, John… have we got turkey?” I exchange a grin with him, my face breaking easily into such an expression on such a day as this. The sun continues to burn down, reflecting off the snow without ceasing. There seems to be no respite, no end to this day. This Christmas day, in 1912… a Christmas day which I will always remember, which will always be burnt - etched into my memory, engrained so that the textures can be felt by fingers unseen. I began to open one of the pouches of food and examine the contents. “Yes, captain… we have turkey here, and even roast potatoes… though they are somewhat cold I’m afraid.” Captain Scott roared with laughter, clapping me heartily on the back. “No matter John - no matter! This will be a Christmas we will never forget!” I smiled also, if a little feebly. The sun continued to burn down day and night, mixing the seasons into one… the snow transgressing upon the sunshine. The two tried to mix, but the solution didn’t work… they simply stayed side by side, without touching.
- Nicola Batty
- I am a writer of novels, plays and film scripts. I live in Manchester England with my partner Andy and our teenage son Jack. Andy and I started my Newsletter Raw Meat and began publishing with Rawprintz in 1999 to showcase my work. Some of you may be confused by my continual references to Ziggy, that’s my wheelchair! Both Andy and I are writers. I’ve recently lost my sight – hence the continual reference to my being confused! Thanks for visiting.