The Husband: A Brief Tale for Halloween

I’m as dead as dead can be

As dead you are

You can never be

As dead as me

Okay, so it’s not the greatest song ever written and certainly not the longest but it’s mine and there’s no-one around so I sing it as loud as the remains of my lungs will allow. The paper-thin sound is snatched away and taken up by the wind. We make for an excellent duet. The melody resonates across the metal cages that rise up from the snowbanks all around me. They were cars once. Prized possessions stripped down to frost coated skeletons. Death really has made them so pretty. There are the tops of trees poking up from the snow as well. There’s life – so much life – waiting inside the trees for when the world is finally handed back to them. They’ll have a long wait but they are patient.

Somewhere beneath the ragged soles of my feet, under thick ice, there will be tarmac. I remember the roads. They had spread everywhere before the end. We lived in cars and car parks, racing constantly from one place to another, growing angrier and louder with each second. Summer was an endless season piled across years that no-one ever had the time to enjoy. I was a young man then and what was called successful. The rags I wear now cost a small fortune back in their prime.

And I was the one who found winter. Like the old legend, it was hidden in a box. A tiny, wooden box fixed with a golden clasp. I still have it, somewhere in my pockets. I knew what it would do even before I opened it. The first blast of ice took the flesh from my face but left me with eyes to admire what I’d done. The world had turned white and blue. Silence fell with the tumbling snow. The winter was around me and it took me in its arms, its saviour and champion and lover.

We walk this quiet world now, the winter and I. They used to talk about apocalypse and disaster but this has been salvation. Even those huddled forms in the remains of their cars, whose bowels and livers I eat to keep this dead form moving, have a certain grace they would never have known in life.

I’m winter’s husband. I sing my song

Damian Mark Whittle

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