Winter Bones (a short story)

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She didn’t like how others looked through her. It was clear, they were curious but did they have to look at her in that way? As someone glances through the stems of winter trees to catch a glimpse of something more interesting, somewhere further away.

The chair wasn’t so odd. People used chairs in public, on buses, in shops and cafes. And she hadn’t enhanced it to make it ‘unique’. She simply used it, like a person putting on boots when it rained.

Her hair was growing back, in clumps and she hid it with hats/scarves/hoods. They also gave comforting shadows over the scars that slid down her left temple and gathered in a spiral at her cheek-bone. She touched it – a reminder; a memory of smooth skin – the ‘before’ skipped along.

She was dancing and laughing – the Christmas office party. Hours before things changed. Before the frosted blanket fell and made the whole world – black and empty. She shivered, feeling solid ice against cracked bones.

Here, in the familiar grey room – she was still the HR Manager who dealt with difficult issues and appeased managers and staff alike. Ready to listen to their issues and wrangle through the twisted mess to a solution.

Around her, a circle of snow – papers decorated the table. Her colleagues talked and flicked through the last minutes and the agenda. And she waited for her QA section. They looked nearby, askew. Gave those awkward nods and smiles and asked her nothing.

by Elizabeth Haley-Wood

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