My sharpness is smoothed out at the edges. White fog has seeped through the tent lining, swirled around the fleece of my hood, into my grey matter. As my tent rocks, the mercury level drops a fraction more. In the sideways sleet I can’t figure out how far north of the main party I am. The vanilla weakness of them, giving up so soon. Those spoilt boy-babies. Twenty-six years of mockery fuelled my legs. I’d chanted onwards through my teeth like a hundred thousand Hail Marys. The silence of snow absorbed my words.
Cramps in my limbs shock me back into now. Beyond cold, beyond numbness, comes a swampy heat. I pull at my clothes, gasping. A voice like that newscaster from back home with the high neck sweater and soothing voice is telling me the heat is an illusion: keep clothed, curl up, wait for help. It is outside of my control. Fast fingers that belong to another pull at my clothes. I lie back as his darkness crowds over me. The pant of a lover, the sweet syrup of my body’s reply. Underneath layers of cloth and rage, I remember that I am woman. His weight squeezes the air from me. Tender hands stroke my throat. At last, I am wanted.
Stephanie Hutton is a writer and Clinical Psychologist in the UK. Stephaniehutton.com