Winter Nights

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The wind is howling. I can hear it outside the hut, whistling among the rocks. Blowing snow. It’s the first real storm of the winter, and night has come to the lands surrounding us. The sun won’t rise again for six months.

We’ll be waiting, when it does.

The firelight throws shadows onto the hide walls around us. Embers pop, spewing sparks across the floor. One of the dogs is in my lap, his thick fur warming my thighs. The women are sewing, the men, repairing their nets, sharpening the bone spears they take out hunting. The storm is outside, but peace reigns among our family. We are used to the cold, to wind, to the winter months, and the darkness. We are ready for it.

The only thing missing is the stories.

Grandmother used to tell them. The children would gather around her, all her many grandchildren, and she would fill the hut with her stories. Gesturing, throwing shadows up on the walls, her eyes wide. They always listened. The stories wiled away the dark hours, took us places that were not frozen and black as the sky outside. I loved her stories.

But she left us when summer was high, and her grave marks the western cliffs. No one tells stories now. The mothers are too busy, the fathers too preoccupied.

Only I miss them. Her oldest granddaughter, the one who never married. Who loved her stories best.

I take a deep breath, my hands trembling a little, and say, “Do you know that when the wind howls like this, it is thinking of the one it loves best?”

The children look at me. Already intrigued. I smile at them. “It’s lover lives among the stars, and it must shout to be heard.”

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