Spring! I long for spring! Those sedentary days, where your body has started to wake from the chill of winter. The first touch of warm gentle sun light against your skin. The thrill of wearing a light jacket for the first time in months. To feel warm again, not just in the body but in the heart. Where is Spring?
I met Elle in the autumn and had I known then that she would be the last I would still have been more than satisfied. She wasn’t the prettiest girl I had ever been with, but there was something to her: a confident glow, a friendly warmth. Besides as age comes, looks become less important to a man. I had my fun in my twenties with vapid pretty girls. Elle was not one of them. I knew that from the very start.
“I’m looking for someone to take me home and teach me some things,” she had said to me on our first chance meeting in a run-down bar. It was a tempting offer, but I’d turned her down in the hope of leaving myself open for something more meaningful with another girl; I was of bored of one night stands.
“Ah, you passed my first test!” she’d said and I think from right then both of us knew.
We never slept together that night, nor on our date the following weekend, but in time it happened. The fact that it’s the least important night of all the time we spent together was a testament, not to our lack of enjoyment, but to rapture of all our other experiences. The sex was more of an expectation, something that we had to do as a couple, a symbol, but our true intercourse was walking silently in falling leaves; cooking dinner together on Halloween and all those little glances. Those little glances, nothing was more special than those pure moments when in the midst of the chaotic world our eyes would find each other and for an instance everything seemed to stop.
Then winter came. It was mild at first, and Elle joked about skipping real winter all together. She would have loved nothing more. Elle thrived on the sun, her mood tied with its brightness. That’s not to say I didn’t love her on the dark days. But those sunny afternoons was when she was herself more than at any other time. And who couldn’t love someone so at peace with themselves? Someone so natural and free? Someone so happy just to be alive and there in that very moment? Maybe that’s why she did it. Maybe she was afraid she would never be herself again.
On Christmas I thought Elle would have her wish of skipping winter and I joked about giving her the bright sunny day as her present. It was even warm enough that we ate our dinner outside, pretending not to feel the chill winds that would occasionally blow in from the north. We were happy to imagine it would never come and were in love enough to believe in our own fantasies. We cuddle together as the dark came and drank wine and gorged ourselves on the remaining scraps of food, only returning to the house when it was fully dark and the star speckled winter sky told us that we could no longer pretend it wasn’t getting cold.
It was the second week of January when the real winter came. On that day it suddenly snowed and the next it was too cold to snow. Everything froze: the water in the lake, the milk on the door steps and the heating pipes in the houses. Each day Elle and I would huddle together for warmth in the bedroom piled under as many blankets as we could, going out only for work and supplies and each day Elle would ask me if I could not give her another sunny day as present. It started to make me sad that I couldn’t, as each day I seen a little more of her happiness drain away. But there was nothing we could but wait for spring and that first bright sunny day.
February passed, no warmer than January, but in many ways we had learned to cope and were warmed by the thought of the coming season. I could hear the optimism in Elle’s voice as we planned a thousand little trips we would make in the coming year. First we intended to head north to Fort William and climb the hills there are soon as the snows were melted or maybe even head south to the Lake District where things might be a little warmer. Neither plan happened.
It wasn’t until the end of March that people really started to ask questions. Most had put winter running late down to the fact that it hadn’t really started until January and people may have waited longer had there been the slightest sign of winter abating, but as the coldest April in recorded history rolled in the discontent started. The government gave reassurances, while televisions debated, but I missed most of it. I was too worried about Elle. She was not moppy or bitchy, but to watch her was sad. It was like someone had stolen the life from her. The hardest part was to see her trying to fight it as she put on a brave face. It was like she was trapped inside her own body, trying to scream her way out from the inside and getting more and more exhausted with each attempt. She talked little and when she did it was only to bring up our plans for after the winter. She was not alone. Everyone was feeling it, like something in our bodies knew that it was wrong. For me everything felt grey and flat and there was some ancient compulsion in me that kept telling me to move on and find better hunting grounds. Had I not been so busy trying to keep Elle’s spirits up it probably would have been worse for me. Maybe it was her that saved me in the end.
In June the announcement came that would change the world for forever. There would be no more springs, no more summers. No more days of warm sunshine on the face. No more chances to wear light jackets on a stroll around the lake. It was over for all of us. It would be the end of everything. Television, radio and the internet were filled scientists and their explanations as to why it had all ended. “Humans had been the cause.” “It’s part of a natural cycle”. No one cared. Science had failed and would die with the rest of us.
Elle killed herself a week later. I think I had known it was coming. The way she ate at the dinner table as if savouring each bite. The gentle kiss she gave me as we fell asleep together in each other’s arms. When I heard her get up in the early hours of the morning, I didn’t try to stop her. How could I? What could I tell her, that it would all get better? We both knew that wasn’t true. The spring would never come and she would never be herself again without it. She would never be the Elle I loved again without it.
I survived. Like the others I looted the supermarkets and horded my food. Those that didn’t passed away with the rest of civilisation. I guess they were the smartest ones. I really don’t know what I am living for. The cold? The solitude? The hunger? I would end it all now but for the thought that maybe they were wrong and spring will come next year, if only I survive. If I can, then maybe I’ll feel the heat of her hand on my skin again. Maybe I’ll feel the warmth in my heart just one more time. Maybe I’m just waiting for Elle.