In this series, I will take the Word of the Day from Dictionary.com and craft a short piece of creative writing around it. My goal is to embrace the meaning of the word in some unique way, all the while trying out different styles, rhythms and characterizations. It is as much an exercise in creativity as it is an exploration of grammar. Enjoy!
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By Alex Seise
Uncle stared ahead at the steaming hot samovar, its metal base glowing red where an unseen coal warmed the water in the boiling chamber above. His unblinking gray eyes brimmed watery and red. The old man hadn’t been crying; age simply saddened his once vibrant irises into dull steely dots far less excitable than the bubbling water in the pressurized kettle.
I reached for the two dainty teacups I’d set on the counter some minutes before. My cold, dry fingers had already sprinkled a few blackened oolong leaves in each cup. The same thought that crossed my mind every day as I peered into vessels made its nightly visit. These brilliant white cups, painted with ornate glazed designs, looked dirty and messy thanks to the strewn herbal shreds in each. Yet, somehow over both the ages and leagues of the Eurasian continent, the reddish liquid managed to rise above its speckling and staining notoriety to become the epitome of global sophistication. Certain things, like the contradiction that was brewed loose leaf tea, I would never understand.
“Here,” I said as I finished splashing hot water into the first mug, passing it gently into his rough palms. He took it gratefully. “Now, drink, Uncle. You need your strength for what lies ahead.”
Outside, a light snow fell over the white countryside that dimmed navy in the dying evening light. And somewhere, not far off in the mountains that barricaded Uncle’s tiny cabin, an inhuman howl echoed down the ice slides and past the pine trees.
The thin window pane dulled most of the wailing, but I knew the beast that uttered the sad cry would be back that night… And, most likely, it’d be hungrier than it had the night before.
(Author’s Note: The image accompanying today’s post has a very special place in my heart. It’s the last image I ever took at our old home in Madawaska, Maine, just as we were stepping out the door and preparing to hand over the keys to the new owner.)