Winter Of Love

Entry by: Jim bob

25th November 2016

‘Mia,’ I call, (mostly in my dreams) then awaken on these unforgiving winter mornings.
She’s gone now, you see. Left, departed, and I’m stuck with the remembering. Recalling memories sometimes fall sweet, with traces of sad ones while I sip coffee from her china mug. It has ‘Mia’ written across the white ceramic in gold lettering. It has a small chip in the side. I remember the day she dropped it. It doesn’t seem that long ago. But it was. It was a Sunday. We drank Nescafe that morning too, in our large bright kitchen.
Cold, freshly fallen snow in the garden and our snow-man at the end of it. A carrot in his nose. Potatoes for his eyes, a scarf, a red one, warming his neck. It had taken us two hours to build him; snow ball fights distracted our purpose, kissing devoured our purpose. Engulfed by her affection, and aroused by her soft warm touch. But, in the end, he looked splendid. And we felt splendid too. We felt love. Both of us, during the cold, sharp snowy days. We had it. Every last piece, each little particle of this powerful thing. It consumed us.
It was early evening, that arrived promptly, I recall. Although our snow man was visible; light from a neighbours’ window brightening him up against the nightfall, overhead cover had closed in; the skies darkening to a charcoal hue.
‘Colin was about today,’ said Mia from the hallway, collecting the mail.
‘What does he want,’ I’d asked, leafing through the Sunday supplement looking for flowers to order for her.
I didn’t like Colin. He had an ungraciousness about himself. But, because Mia had been married to him, I tried with all my heart to make an effort.
‘Not much- difficulties with Caroline again,’ she replied, coming through the door, armed with post, mostly of the Christmas variety, I imagined.
‘Hope it’s nothing too serious’ I replied, disinterested.
‘He’s got some bother.’ she said.
I wasn’t really listening, and Mia’s comments I knew, were simply small talk; she hated bothering me with her ex partner’s woes. I smiled at her, then chinked our mugs, and kissed.
‘So, let’s go make love, again.’ She blurted
‘Do you want’ I asked.
‘Of course I want silly. Do you. Can you?’ and she laughed, pushing me.
I grabbed her, and lifted her up, cradling her.
‘Let’s go’ I finally said.
‘You sure’ she asked, giggling again, and put her finger against my lip. I grasped it with my mouth and began sucking it I could taste a hint of talc on it, and a perfume- probably the Christian Dior I’d given her last Xmas. I bit down.
‘Ouch’ and in surprise the foot of her left leg caught her mug on the table knocking it to the floor. Chipping it.
‘Oh pants’ I said laughing, putting her down. The cat had started licking the milky spill before I’d got to it, and I remember thinking what a comical drama we were creating.
‘Getaway Churchill’ I shouted, and reluctantly she withdrew back to her basket and young family; three black ones, and one ginger with a white shock of fur across her face.
Absolutely one hundred percent’ I said after wiping up the wetness
‘That’s sorted then’ she said and we kissed

Snow had started falling again, thicker this time. We opened Christmas cards, arranging them along the mantelpiece in the lounge. One of the them was from my ex-wife. She’d wished me all the best for the new year, and if I was ever in New York-
A knock at the door distracted us from kissing and card arrangements.
‘Colin’ I said opening the door, cursing his timing.
‘Come in.’
In he came looking cold and angry. He was sporting a very un-sober looking suit, I assumed from the night before, and his hair even under a dusting of snow looked tousled, greasy. Stubble had begun to show. Roger didn’t smell too sober either.
‘Everything okay’ I asked
‘So-so ‘he said patting me on the back. This customary gesture of companionship felt anything but. Had he pissed right in front of me instead, I’d have had more respect. Yes, it was that type of back patting. If you know what I mean.
‘What is it, Colin.’ asked Mia, as we entered the kitchen.
‘You look terrible.’
I didn’t get involved, and wouldn’t have wanted to, instead, hoped that this, whatever it was would be over quick. Colin sat at the kitchen table, coughing like a veteran smoker which produced vapours of stale booze that hung in the air. He’s really been on it, I thought.
‘I’m Ok. Anything to drink’ he stammered, engaging the chair then managing to sit.
She removed a half empty bottle of scotch from the cupboard and poured liberally in to a tumbler
‘I’m not going to ask why, Colin’ she said quietly, up close.’ ‘It’s none of my business, but Tom and me are busy right now- you should go back home and sleep this off.’ she concluded, placing the scotch in front of him.
‘Drink up now,’ she said, pointing at the glass.
I couldn’t help despising him right there, as I observed sorrow in her eyes; evidence of a piece of their history, undoubtedly. His drunken manner, and pathetic way, made it difficult to hold down my rage. Today was the day I planned to propose to her, for heaven’s sake, and now, that a balance of emotion was unstable around us, love and dis-harmony binding up, a suggestion of marriage would have been erroneous. I felt her ring through the fabric of my Levi’s, hoping it wasn’t going to remain there for the rest of the day. But it did.
Colin took a long swallow from the glass and lit a cigarette. Then he hunched over the table, an aim, I was certain to get up-close and personal. For a moment she squeezed his hand then pushed him back. He’d said something but I couldn’t make the words out.
‘Come on Colin, you’re drunk now go home’ she said getting up.
‘I’ll get a taxi- Ian call a taxi’
I reached in my pocket for the mobile, and as I pulled it out frantically, the ring came with it, dropping to the floor. I watched it spin away across the linoleum. Immediately, I looked at Beth to see if she’d see, but she was still engaged with the actions of Colin who, clumsily made strange signals with his hands. I darted over to the end of the kitchen floor. Quickly I grabbed it and stuffed it back in my pocket, Churchill’s eyes following my every move.
‘What are you doing, Ian she shouted.
‘Nothing’ I said, momentarily feeling guilty. ‘Churchill had something stuck in his mouth, that’s all.’
As I began dialling for the taxi, I noticed Mia pushing away at what appeared to be Colin’s advances.
‘Its Africa, you know its Africa’ he shouted. ‘It’s our place, ours and…
I dropped the phone and grabbed him, interrupting his talk, whatever it meant. There was a small scuffle, mostly due to his un-coordinated movement; arms going one way, intent on going another, feet shuffling spasmodically. I wrestled him to the ground, thought twice about punching him. Colin was good for nothing. When the taxi arrived, we bundled him in. I haven’t seen him since.

‘What did he mean by ‘Africa’, I asked the following morning.
We were sitting in the kitchen, a smell of grilling bacon filling up the room.
‘What, Tom. Africa you say?’ she asked, while applying make-up
‘What are you on about.’
‘Last night, Mia. Colin referred to Africa and a house.’
She looked up from applying eye-liner, a quizzical stare confronting me. I went to see to the bacon. The rashers had burnt a bit around the edges- the way I liked it. However, I wasn’t feeling hungry.
‘Oh that,’ she replied, returning to her make-up. ‘God knows. He was very drunk, Tom. In a world of his own.’
Then, part of me began to doubt her. I don’t know why, because I had no reason to. Of course, the logical thinking would be that he was drunk, I reflected, turning off the stove. But, I thought ‘Africa ‘was just too noticeable a word not to take seriously. Then again, I was probably being paranoid.

Churchill, and family- Mary, Mungo, and Midge- came over to greet us, the ginger one, unable to steady himself, unlike his two brothers who’d gotten the hang of walking. Cute little fellows, I thought.
‘Yep he sure was, Love’ I said, and bent over and kissed her.
‘Oy you, watch my make-up’ she said and laughed, pointing a finger at me.
‘Eye liner on the nose, mate,’ she said getting up, putting her arms round me.
I decided to drop the ‘Africa’ issue. What was the point, I thought, as she embraced me tighter? If I was about to ask this woman to marry me, then I’d better let go of my suspicious mind, I decided, re-calling that famous song by Elvis Presley about this matter.
Sun shone through the window, and our snow-man remained sturdy, despite the onset of a thaw.
‘He still looks good’ I said to her in between kisses.
‘Better than you,’ And her teasing grin stirred me deliciously.
‘Bacon or bed,’ I said to her
‘Screw the bacon.’
Early afternoon, and the kettle boiled in our kitchen. The cats slept, huddled on top of one another, and the traffic outside quietened for a Sunday afternoon.
‘We are out of milk, hun’ she shouted from our well used room; it seemed that most of our time these days was spent in the kitchen. We talked so much, and other activities like watching television or going for walks, although enjoyable, removed our insistent desire to talk away the hours of the day and night. What better place than a kitchen, I decided.
‘I’ll pop out’ I returned, coming down the stairs.
‘Don’t worry, love, I’ve already got my coat on. You feed Churchill. Be back in a moment.’
As she reached the doorway, I grabbed her, spinning her round.
I’ve got a surprise for you on your return’ I said, close up. ‘Hurry back.’
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Worth coming back for then.’ She winked and was gone.
I suspected she may have had an idea, I remember thinking on my return to the kitchen. I checked my jeans for the ring, the third time this afternoon and discovered I felt a bit nervous. What if she declined, I thought? It hadn’t even crossed my mind until that moment that it was a possibility. The thing is though, my moments of concern were immaterial; they had no supporting reason to identify with; Mia never returned from the shop, and I haven’t seen her since.
Search enquiries, missing persons’ enquiry came back with nothing over the ensuing days. My baffled mind tore itself apart; every possibility toyed with, mulled over, stretched to immense inconceivability. As Christmas approached, the worst thought occurred; dead body found, mutilated corpse.
Christmas day, sunny day and our snow man had slowly melted away, leaving a carrot and two potatoes washed up on the muddy green lawn. His red scarf rested beside them.

Sunday evening, and I re-call those days, stuck with the remembering. Recalling memories that sometimes fall sweet with the traces of sad ones I try to leave alone. I drink coffee from her mug, and four cats laze around the place.
There was a letter this morning. That’s the first thing I have done for two years every morning. Check the post. In this letter it said there may be good news. There was a picture accompanying the letter. It was a photograph of Mia. The letter said the photo was a recent one. It also said it was taken in Africa.