‘Helmikuu’ – Short Story published on Litro Online
I am thrilled to share the link for my short story ‘Helmikuu’ which is published today on Litro Online.
It was inspired by where I live – the fictional ferry is loosely based on one I often see sailing across our bay. One day I started to wonder who exactly might be on it – both captain and passengers, and where they might be from, who they might be.
At the same time, someone mentioned to me that they thought February was a horrible month. I’ve never thought that. Here in Devon, we often see the first signs of spring in February – the bright yellow flowers of the daffodils and crocuses, the first delicate blossoms appearing on the trees. To me, February has always been a hopeful month – the start of something new.
I started researching February, and I discovered that the Finnish word for February is helmikuu. It literally means ‘pearl month’ as in February the snow melts and freezes again, often producing pearls of ice. I loved the ephemeral nature of this – the first melt, the first hopeful sign of spring, being so tantalising close, but at any second could be snatched away, returned to winter.
I thought this was a perfect metaphor for something that my character, Anderson, is living with day to day – his own, fragile construction of hope.
“A story was a form of telepathy. By means of inking symbols onto a page, she was able to send thoughts and feelings from her mind to her reader’s. It was a magical process, so commonplace that no one stopped to wonder at it.”
“They wanted spring, of course they wanted it, more than anything. They longed for sun with every pore of their skin. But spring hurts. If spring can come, if things can be different, how can you bear what your existence has been?”
“The four of them ran like wild deer, leaping low bushes of lavender and thyme, whooping with panicky delight, lean and light and half-naked—or, more accurately, nine-tenths naked —through the pine trees and après-midi dappling. They ran on winged feet, and their laughter looped the air behind them like chains of bubbles in translucent water.
High up on the swimming pool terrace the little family, frozen together for a photographic instant, watched their flight open-mouthed, like the ghosts of summers past; or, indeed, of summers yet to come.”