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:

In the depth of winter I finally learned…

“Yet much as it is winter now, it is spring, too, in many ways…my soul bears patterns of flowers pressed in between the creamy pages of well-read books.”

Art by: 9jedit

The light summer breezes that ran swiftly down my forearms are turning cold, now. The chill nipping at ears and fingers and noses. Night comes earlier now, too. Overstays its welcome well into the early morning, and is too lazy to leave right away when asked to.

In the depth of winter I finally learned…

By the bus shelter on the other side of the street, tiny leaves, all yellow and orange, flutter about in the air, landing in curls of wild hair left loose for the wind to play with, insinuating themselves in hoodies and in between layers of clothing, trying to find home somewhere else, trying to draw out life as long as they can. There is a girl standing there, or so I imagine, right by the sign that reads ‘bustop’, leaning dangerously close to the curb, as though buses could be hailed. Wrapped in voluminous coats and scarves that brush the tip of a reddened nose, she shuffles around impatiently. Soft clouds of frozen breaths come in short bursts, hanging over her head like speech bubbles the world would never know how to fill. There she is, a young, frantic soul trying to escape an inexorable winter. But it won’t let up—slowly, it settles in, eating the mountains, the plains, the heart of the city bit-by-bit, like an infection, almost.

(Maybe I was that girl a few years ago)

Yet much as it is winter now, it is spring, too, in many ways. It is spring in the way that I feel. As though my soul bears patterns of flowers pressed in between the creamy pages of well-read books. It is spring in the way that smiles will sneakily stretch onto my face without prior consent. It is spring in the way in which I have never known spring—it has always been summer or winter, there have never been in-betweens— but know that this, this has to be spring, so inexplicable it is if it is not that. It is spring, even in the cooling depths of winter, because it could not be anything else.

…that there lay within me an invincible summer.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible summer.”

 — Albert Camus


Getting Cold


Photo by: Unknown

There is a scent of vanilla floating in the cold, damp night.

And a warmth like a fireplace beckoning me over. One by one, everyone is pulled out of their rooms like moths to a flame.

If the kitchen was warm before, it is much warmer now with all these bodies so close together.

Without warning, the stove is on and the smells of tea and hot chocolate are suffusing the air. If it was almost uncomfortably warm before, the kitchen is now sweltering. Nevertheless, hot mugs are being passed around. Chatter is lighting the small kitchen up.
And the cake that brought everyone here in the first place is being sliced, the delicate fumes wafting in the air.

And as I take all this in: these content faces, the gentle laughs, the simple happiness of it, all I can think is how long until this all ends?

If the kitchen was sweltering before, it is much colder now.

Note: Day 12 of my NaNoWriMo writing challenge

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.”

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.