Winter warmth.

felicia chiao young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: Felicia Chiao

It’s officially linger-in-the-shower weather.

Huddle under your blanket weather and watch the rain pelting, the raindrops racing down the window pane. It is the time for deep sleep, for storing warmth and creating it, luxuriating in its feel, letting it curl deep in your belly as it comforts some deep ache, erases some old pain.

I am not usually one for hot beverages; I was never quite in love with tea like everyone else in my country seems to be and didn’t care much for coffee growing up.

But lately, I have been brewing myself a simple little pleasure, if only to watch the clouds of water vapour curl elegantly in the air. I try to remember the liberal turns these vapours take so that I may trace them later on paper, in one sketch or another.

The warmth of a honey-lemon infusion is grounding between my palms and the liquid gently sloshes in my mug, catching the light, refracting it. I could stay for hours doing this: pouring dollops of golden flower honey into a well-loved mug, then going in for a moment of real-life magic, the kind that involves no prestidigitation, no sleight of hand. I pour a little bit of steaming water from the kettle. Then, gently, I swish the contents around, watching with bated breath as a golden pattern emerges, one resembling the hives in which the honey was made. Of course, that’s not quite exact, but a girl can dream. I dream that with a flick of a wrist, the swirl of some water, secrets are revealed to me, deciphered under my eyes during a performance set in golden tones, under pale sunlight. There is a world at the bottom of my mug, a door opened to me, unlocked with a piece of secret knowledge.

It is such a shame to have to lose all that, to have to stir the honey in. Nonetheless, when I’ve had my fill of this visual spectacle, I squeeze in some fresh, fragrant lime or lemon juice, allowing myself to enjoy the sound of the mug filling up. Then I stir until I obtain a honeyed drink in taste and colour both.

My hands wound almost too soon around the porcelain mug, leaving my palms stinging and a little bit red, but the comfort is so real. So potent. It settles some profound part of me, slows down the thoughts running abuzz, brings my whole body to a lull as anxiety fizzles out.

It’s a moment but also a state of being, a sort of permanence where all the stray bits of my disarrayed self align. Then, I can exhale, deep from my lungs, even deeper yet, from the place where all my anxieties lie and all my fears lay in wait.

So, as odd as this sounds, I’m a little bit grateful for the cold that gives life to so much warmth.


Note: I hope you are all doing very well and keeping safe ❤️ And you can try out the honey trick for yourself, it definitely works! But it also works with other substances having the same kind of viscosity, so even if it’s pretty to imagine it’s a honey-exclusive phenomenon, it’s not lol. Them’s the facts 😂

Listening to:

These Sunday Evenings

“A place to drift off, to find yourself loosening up and catching quite the recreational nap, as sunlight would filter through the window and rest  like a feather on one side of your face, all light and warm.”

I am so grateful for our little time-loop, our escape from the world. It’s not much, just a couple hours every Sunday, around 3 to 6, tea, cake and conversation or leafing through newspapers. A few hours of watching crap TV or of playing the same Mario Kart or Just Dance.

Sometimes, we all just lie down and ease into our own worlds, bodies still heavy and weary from the drudgery of the past week, and we don’t talk. We just shove each other around and gaze into our phones.

It seems a pity, doesn’t it?

You don’t see somebody for a whole week and when you do, you don’t even look at them.  But we never needed that anyway. It was never about how much we talked or what we talked about. It was just about being there, all together. Like an agreed upon thing we never discussed, these Sundays at Nan’s place. Some place safe. Somewhere you always belonged even though you could freeze your bum off on the tiled floor if someone decided to sprawl all over the bed. A place to drift off, to find yourself loosening up and catching quite the recreational nap, as sunlight would filter through the window and rest  like a feather on one side of your face, all light and warm. A time to suddenly notice the birdsong and the sounds of motorcycle engines roaring away. A place to reminisce or to tease (“I swear the mattress dipped half a metre down after you ate those 2 slices of banana bread.”) Or talk about the neighbours. Or complain about life and exams and expectations, or moaning about how there is nothing to do.

Just bring yourself, eat cake, drink tea, and be whatever the day wills you into.


Note: ‘NaNoWriMo’ Day 5

Summer

“Guilty, childlike expressions on wrinkled faces hidden behind cards held up so high, the whirring fan no one hears anymore, and the rare, cool night air that is consumed in the concentration of human warmth”

punziellasummer
Art by: Punzie Ella

Ice cubes melting in dark, bubbling soda, clinking as he twirls the tall glass dripping with condensation,

Humidity in the air, a stickiness that is here to stay and mosquitoes buzzing around, seasonal flies attracted to the light,

Laughter and shrieks, hands banged on the table, voices crying victory and monopoly bills flying in the air,

Guilty, childlike expressions on wrinkled faces hidden behind cards held up so high, the whirring fan no one hears anymore, and the rare, cool night air that is consumed in the concentration of human warmth,

Cold, red watermelon, juice dribbling down chins and hands, the rinds left lying in piles like beef ribs and T-bones after a barbecue,

Pimpled faces isolated, all tucked in an airless room, gazing into a phone, no longer whispering, but guffawing and teasing, cries of “Call her! Call her!”

Loud snoring and a body sprawled all over, TV commentators commenting to no one in particular, several clicks and giggles, “One more for the album”,

Good nights, thank yous and we’re goings, then 15 minutes chatting at the door, “Anyone want tea?”, a congregation in the kitchen, and a beautiful summer night that goes on forever.


Note: ‘NaNoWriMo’ Day 4

Residual Warmth

“You see,there are days that even the coldness of life cannot reach. Days that are safe, far, far away from the darkness of everydays.”

heojiseon
Art by: Heo Jiseon

There is something so delicious about residual warmth.

Heat muffled in between sheets
Warmth that smoulders, woven in the wool
The wonderful heat that hangs on a coat that is loaned to you

It is so easy to catch and hold. Something that looks too precious to be free. Too precious for me to have, this tranquility within arm’s reach.

But here it is, like a gorgeous, red ribbon that beckons me to pull it open and watch as it unravels. Then it turns out the ribbon was closed around a bouquet. So with a single touch, an effortless tug, the world blooms red with this glorious heat and I have an inexplicable, breathtaking warmth pooling around me. There is happiness fluttering in my veins, residual warmth seeping in this heart.

You see,there are days that even the coldness of life cannot reach. Days that are safe, far, far away from the darkness of everydays. Days when I live inside a snow globe or a bottle thrown at sea, the kind of bottle made from almost opaque dark green glass. And the glass is so thick that from the inside, I cannot even hear the roars of life. There is no world outside, save for the soft waves that undulate to-and-fro. But if I try, if I should want to try, I would drift to sleep to the gentle sound of waves crashing in my ear—and warmth all around.