She watched the snow fall, large gobbets of flakes clinging together in clumps, settling on the window ledge, only inches from her face. Her sighing breath formed a neat round oh on the glass, slowly shrunk and disappeared, only to be replaced by its successor. She sighed more heavily and the circle increased in size, and she wished she could be obliterated by the flakes, like the shrubs outside, just as she had temporarily obliterated her reflection in the cold pane.
Behind her, the tree lay on the floor where the children had pulled it down. They had become irritable after lunch, their sugar-addled minds bored by their toys, frustrated with being indoors. The snow was still rain at this point, and there was no hope of a turn around the gardens.The chaos she was studiously avoiding, by watching the snow, had started as a racing game. But it wasn’t long before her eldest son’s eyes were lit up with destructive fire. It never was. He pulled off the first decoration to hand, and flung it at his sister. She joined in, and soon the tree was rocking unsteadily in its container. Of course her sweetest and youngest child had little choice but to play his part, his adoration for his older brother making him an instant mimic. She’d attempted to intervene, but what her husband had told her before lunch made any action seem futile. There were bigger worries now. The destruction of the tree seemed almost comic: this day was well and truly awry already. Once the wrecking was wrought, they fled the room, fearful of their father who continued to consume too much port in the far reaches of the house, mumbling and shouting to himself. She heard occasional squeals and yelps from the children above her head, and was waiting for Timmy to come vaulting down the stairs, floods of tears, or a bump and bruise, or some small cut inflicted by his adored sadist of a brother the reason for his reappearance. He only sought out his mother, now he was five, when he needed nursing. The spontaneity of his love had dwindled, like the smile that used to play constantly on his features.
Shards of baubles surrounded the corpse of Christmas, their round forms now in sharper decorative patterns. The fairy lights had blinked twice during the topple, before going out for good. It was all such a mess. Much like the perfume she had unwittingly selected. She thought that ginger cake and pine and vanilla would be fitting and harmonious. But her wrist was a cacophony of clashing elements, the over-riding impression cold zinc or… No, not possible. Was that really blood? She drew her face away, lips curled.
If only she’d chosen her favourite, Theorema. Perhaps then the day would have fitted itself around that harmonious blend, rather than becoming the crash and clash of Winter Delice. She continued to gaze at the snowfall, and imagined the golden glow of the cinnamon and orange creaminess, rich and voluptuous and full. She’d have been in control in that, or else able to hide behind the cloud of seamless notes diffusing themselves around her. Enveloped by these, anything could have been possible. She certainly wouldn’t be here, moping and wishing her wrists were someone else’s. She’d be straightening that tree, straightening her dissolute sot of a husband, and making sure her children had all the right reasons to remember this Christmas. She was resolved to change her scent, and change the day. This is it, she thought, I know what to do. A quick scrub and a few sprays will restore me. Ready to move, she decided to spend a last few moments alone with the snow.
But she never got the chance. A shadow lurched into the room. She turned to see her husband, swaggering, glass in hand, untucked, splashes of port staining his cuffs and shirtfront. He swayed in front of her, smiled vacuously, eyes unfocused, and lifted one leg to the side. A brief pause of stillness, and then the fart was long, loud, percussive and followed by a hearty chuckle from him, a tired sneer from her. She knew he’d had too many sprouts and chestnuts at lunch. Post-Theorema, that would be another thing for her to take charge of. She immediately – and wisely – vacated the room. Down to business.