The Most of it

It was a bowl of soup. It looked like a newer bowl, the baked clay painted black and shiny, the soup in it steaming. Barley he saw, something like a carrot submerged, a shred of meat floating ringed with shiny bubbles of grease. He stared at it for a while, lost in the detachment of body and spirit that comes with a head cold, feeling dull and tense at the same time. Outside it was snowing.

He sighed, and began to eat the soup. It had something spicy and made his nose run. He wiped it on his sleeve and wished he had not, because he had been using his sleeve for that too long now. He used his left sleeve, high up, near the shoulder. Then he sniffed hard, winced at the pressure in his head and sat back. The soup continued to steam. The fire popped, and he turned to look at it for a while, breathing through his mouth, vaguely aware of the aftertaste of the soup.

Some time later he finished eating, went over to the fire and slumped down on the fur before it. He fell asleep, a green run of snot forming on his upper lip. The snow sifted down outside, and the fire sank.

When he woke, there was a handkerchief in his hand. He blew his nose strenuously, felt the shifting pressures in his cranium, sighed. But he felt better as he pushed himself off the rug and stood up.

He peered through the panes of glass. It was all a dim blue greyness outside: the lighter ground, the darker skies, the nearby flakes still distinct. It must be getting dark, he thought. He not only felt better, he now felt hungry, and soon it would be time for dinner.

He opened a door and descended the cold, winding stairs into darkness. At the bottom he stopped to blow his nose again, and now the new handkerchief was all used. He stuffed it in his blouse. He pushed open the heavy wooden door, and walked into a draughty hallway. Light filtered in from high above, a fog dimmed light that brought snowflakes with it. The snow on the floor was slightly trampled. Now he heard sounds: creaking sounds, and banging. Cooler drafts troubled the powdery snow along the sides of the hall, and doors were heard slamming. They’re coming in for dinner, he thought.

He felt the cold on his head, breathed the winter in through his nasal passages for a change. It was stimulating and he felt good now, almost full of health. He knew it wouldn’t last, but at least it would last long enough to have a good meal. He hurried along holding his face up to catch the cool snowflakes, closing his eyes to concentrate on the feeling and hoping they had roasted a hog.

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