The Chill of Early Winter (creative nonfiction)

Summary: Creative nonfiction. He’s not quite three and he’s already learning to use emotional blackmail. 566 words.

image base from morguefile

The early winter weather has been unseasonably warm, the morning sunshine making my journey to my sister’s house pleasant. So it took us as a surprise when we all began the dog walk and were hit with a bitter wind that had brought down the temperature considerably.

My nephew wanted to go on the walk rather than stay behind with me, and I always enjoying spending time with my sister, my nephew, the two dogs. I have neither children nor dogs of my own. The first I have never wanted — and while I adore the little munchkin who was now clutching my hand, he only makes me more certain that I could not do this full-time — the second I have always wanted but circumstances have never permitted. Rats and, currently, a hamster, are what I have had instead.

Part of the way around the circular trek the dogs make daily, we agree it’s too cold for all of us to complete the walk. My light coat is meant for autumn and I’m freezing; my nephew has a rather more suitable coat and a hat, but his cheeks are cold. The large dogs need their full walk so my sister continues on, making a faster pace without the toddler slowing her down. I begin the return journey, holding my nephew’s hand.

He has a tendency to hang onto one finger and pull sharply. Today at least, he’s letting me grip all of his fingers in mine.

“I want a pick up,” he decides.

So I lift him up, balancing him on my hip. This was far easier when he fitted in the backpack carrier, before he started to grow. He stands at my elbow now; he’s going to be tall like his father rather than petite than my sister and me. He’ll be reaching things from supermarket shelves for us before long.

I wish he’d cling on, like a little monkey, taking some of his own weight, but this is an alien concept to him. We walk a short distance. My back is aching from a strain some weeks back and I can’t carry him for long. Alone, I could walk back to the house in under five minutes. Accompanied like this, and shivering in the icy breeze, it’s not only slower going but it feels like an eternity. My responsibility to take care of him weighs as heavy as he does.

“You’ll have to go down in a minute,” I tell him after we cross another road. It’s not far now.

“But I will be cold,” he solemnly tells me, “down on the ground.”

Great. He’s not quite three yet and he’s already learning to use emotional blackmail. I struggle on a little further.

“Okay, down you go.” I place him on the floor, making sure he has his balance before I let go. He gives me a disappointed look. I take his hand and point to a drift of leaves against a nearby fence, the last brown and orange remnants of autumn. “Look, leaves.”

“Yay!” He tugs at me, runs along to the leaves and kicks at them with one foot. The mercurial nature of young children, from chilled and miserable to joyful play in a nanosecond, still amazes me.

After that we make better time and reach the house. He’s “helping” me make his warm banana milk when my sister and the dogs return.


Originally posted to my original fic blog

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