The wind blowing into my face was bitterly cold, stinging my cheeks and making my eyes water and stream until it was hard to focus on the blanketing white snow I was shovelling. It hurt to breathe in the crystalline air. My fingers ached even through two pairs of gloves. The wind was also creeping up the sleeves of my thick coat and stinging my arms like a bunch of bees, and it was all adding up to misery.
Of course, to make matters worse, we’d been tasked with shovelling nearly half a kilometre of snow into a narrow walkway. The fresh snow was dense and impossibly heavy, and my arms and lower back alike were complaining with the effort. We’d already been at it an hour and it felt like we hadn’t made a dent.
“Pick up the pace, Snowbelle!” shouted Bhre, using the oh-so-endearing nickname he’d conjured. He was working just a few feet away from me, shovelling studiously and ceaselessly. He flashed me a wicked grin and I rolled my eyes, setting into the snow even harder. I tried not to compete with him–he beat me way too many times to count–but some days, I couldn’t help it. I needed to impress him so he would stop calling me stupid names.
“Aw, leave the poor sop alone!” yelled Brinaa, working on my other side. She’d moved an astonishing load, way more than me or Bhre, and was very obviously smug about it. “He’s probably going to drop dead from a case of the chills any second now,” she continued, and what had at first been a very kind act of defence was now a little less kind. I heaved a sigh, shaking my head and enduring the laughs. I never got a break, but I couldn’t really expect one.
“You’ve got snot dripping off your chin, Snowy,” Bhre then pointed out amusedly.
He was enjoying this game of teasing, and he knew it was getting to me. “I swear, one day…” I muttered dryly, wiping my nose on my sleeve and continuing on. I couldn’t wait for the day I’d show him up. He had a lot of mocking to pay for.
It was then that Meyn chose to walk by, as Brinaa and Bhre laughed their heads off at my expense. The older elf looked stern as he scolded, “Leave the recruit alone, you two.” It was my turn to smirk as they were reprimanded. “You’ve got work to do,” he added, “and your breath is better spent thanking the merchant when he gives us food and a place to sleep.” Brinaa and Bhre mumbled agreement, and Meyn was about to keep going. He paused, however, and just couldn’t resist taking a jab at me.
“You’re holding up, aren’t you?” he asked in a borderline patronizing tone. I cringed, requiring great discipline not to respond to his baiting. “I mean,” Meyn continued, “you could always go inside for a break, if you need it. There’re fuzzy blankets and hot cocoa, and you can gossip with the merchant. I wouldn’t want to see our little newbie drop dead ’cause he has to haul some snow.”
Brinaa and Bhre were snorting with laughter, doubled over and red in the face. “Ha ha,” I said flatly, wholly unimpressed. “I think I can manage, thanks.”
Meyn chuckled and clapped me on the shoulder amiably. “Just checking, Snowbelle,” he said before walking up towards the merchant’s house.
I glared at Bhre. “You got him calling me Snowbelle?” I exclaimed, scandalized.
Bhre giggled mischievously. “I didn’t mean for it to happen, he just picked it up. Guess it’s gonna stick, huh?”
“Snowbelle,” Brinaa said, shaking her head with a broad grin on her face. “Suits you perfectly!”
Sighing and well aware that nothing was going to change anytime soon, I focussed on my shovelling and tried to ignore the gleeful chortles of my comrades. One day, I’d have a better nickname.
You know, one that wasn’t a flower.
Remember that one post I wrote, waay back at Christmastime (this one), when I mentioned my daydreams and noted a certain desert elf crossing the mountains? This piece was imagined back in December, but wasn’t fully written out till now. I thought it would be good to imagine the dull act of shovelling the driveway into an adventurous scene, since there’s so many lovely feet of snow outside right now.
This was imagined when I was indeed shovelling the driveway, and as I was getting blasted in the face with a frigid gale, I put myself in my desert elf’s shoes and imagined how he would feel about it all. He wanted to cross the mountains to see the world, and it’s been a shock for him to come out of the desert heat and into winter’s supreme chill. Especially when they have to shovel out the path to the merchant’s place in order to get a free meal and shelter for the night.
Feedback is always welcome :)
How have you been faring the seasons?
May you always have the power to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so that your problems never seem so grave.