Yellow flare in the glass, the flame of the lighter uplighting the mask of my face. My smile is small.
Winter grips the headland, and the winds have not been kind to the walls that enclose my battered heart. I don't know what surprises me more, that I am smiling or that I am still here. Slight pressure behind my ear reminds me of the cigarette I tucked there before breakfast. I close the lighter.
The sea heaves and wallows beyond the windows, a green mosaic bedecked with white jade spume. It is many seas, I think, vignetted in the panes by ragged ovals of frost. A pleasing effect, one experienced only in the gray chill that embraces the spit this time of year.
This nervous habit of mine regarding the lighter disturbs me. The metallic sound of the lid opening and closing is loud in the air of the cottage. Force of will has not yet conquered the motion of my hand, flicking the heavy chrome slab back and forth. The sound itself reminiscent of bones breaking, tree limbs snapping under the weight of entombing ice. I make to flick it open once more, but my other hand grabs the wrist, pulling it down to the scarred wood of the table at which I sit.
Still, I smile. The wind abrades the cottage in a skirl of banshee howls. It is as restless as the ocean, a twin of lesser viscosity, but equal in its noise. The panes rattle while the door arcs slightly in under the pressure. As quick as it came, the gust is gone. The silence it leaves behind is all the stronger for the muttering of the surf. I feel the power of the waves as a gentle tremor through the floor.
The air is warm for once inside this my refuge. The hearth blazes bright as the flames hungrily consume the driftwood I placed there earlier. A larger pile awaits, stacked next to the fireplace. The sea can be a generous companion, sometimes, and my morning walks along the tideline had been fruitful. Bright, merry colors flicker and paint the walls. I breathe deep of the salt tang filling the air. I fell into a daydream of spices, seaweed and selkies.
I am startled by a thunderous crash, shaking the floor with a deep groan. The pens on the table jump slightly. They knock against the open journal before me. Seventh wave, I think. A reminder that the sea will not be ignored. Nor will the journal. It blank pages shine in mute testimony to the slow time surrounding me since the turn of the year. The smile fades.
I set the lighter on the table and pick up a pen. The cigarette behind my ear seems to grow warm, as if to entice me with its nicotine charms. I ignore it in favor of the pages. I lift the pen, it hovers. Thoughts surge forward, orcas rushing penguins along the floe edge. I shiver at the metaphor, my concentration momentarily broken when I look out the window. Wild spray from the surf catches my eye, mind quivering, and out towards the point I spy a line of white along the bottom of the rocks.
Deep in winter, and not much to show for this torpid start of a new year. A brief spike of guilt skewers my ingrained lassitude. Yet the smile returns as I watch the swell. Ice rimes the stone, but it will melt. This I know. I look to the journal, I raise the pen, ice dissolves into the sea.