Flash Fiction: Brittle (186 words)

The bonfire had been a good idea. The smoke smelled sweet coming off the old wood, and the heat sank through Dayva’s coat, through her boots, through her skin, chasing the brittle chill out of her bones. She took a deep breath and rolled her shoulders forward to catch the warmth. Bouncing on her heels, she smiled to herself, happy with how smooth motion felt.

That, she decided, was the worst part about winter – not the dark that crept in too early in the evening and stayed too late in the morning, not the starkness of the trees and the bare ground and the midnight moon – but the cold ache that worked itself into her, starting at her hands and her feet, seeping down inside her lungs. It made her narrower, it made her thin, and she was never quite sure which motion might break her.

She heard Lin’s footsteps behind her, crunching in the scattered stones that bordered the front stair. Dayva didn’t turn to face her until the last moment. The fire beat into her shoulder and her cheeks burned in the cool air.

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