Now and Then

Xander gasped at torrid air so laden with water that he felt the need for gills and listened. The words were like wafer-thin chips of dry ice, floating down and chilling him wherever they landed and they were falling faster and faster...

“- icicles the length of your arm hanging off the roof and the windows painted over with frost. Have to break the ice on my glass of water in the morning, just a thin skim of it, and I’d drink it and feel the shards scratch at my throat as I swallowed. The air would crackle with coldness and the sun was like a circle of lemon, all pale and watery in the sky. Skating on the river, sending a spray of crunchy, fine snow up with every stroke, my fingers and toes aching with the cold, numb and tingling... that was fun.”

“Don’t... stop...” Xander whispered.

“Summer then; no, don’t worry. That had the sea remember? English sea, stiff with salt, with waves that slapped your skin scarlet and blue and a wind that left you feeling freeze-dried. And the drinks we had... tall jugs of beer and cider, lemonade and ginger beer, served iced with the glasses beaded with bubbles...”

Xander closed his eyes and thought of England.

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