Fangs and Claws
Winter has fangs and claws.
My people have known this forever.
It’s not winter so much, though, really, as it is what inhabits it. Lives in it. Hides in it.
Winter is cover, for oh, so many reasons, not the least of which is that it all occurs in long shadows and low light. That’s the best of it; a lot more occurs in the great long hours of the dark.
But the dark is a fig leaf compared to what the human heart can hide.
That is what we used to know.
For the unwary or simply the uncaring, winter makes the heart cold, colder than the body. It creeps in from the edges, like spreading ice, freezing blood and turning tissue brittle, hard.
And when the heart turns cold, it shrinks, loses mass, loses muscle, loses memory. It locks itself and locks itself down, locks the world out and love with it. It turns inward, as though that will warm it, fill it, make it expand again, except by then the heart doesn’t care about expanding, all love forgotten and compassion scorned.
The frozen heart cares only about the hunger.
Hunger must be fed. Prey must be found.
Fangs and claws.
Hidden in the long shadows, right out in the low light of day.
In the bitter brilliance of winter, beware the one that only takes, the contracted heart bereft of mass and muscle and memory.
The soul that owns it walks abroad in daylight, as open and careless as any other. But such a soul is tethered to a heart no longer; now, its hidden form and secret shape is only fangs and claws.