You’ll be happy to know that you were right. I know I scoffed at the Scottish winter before we got here. I figured everything you said, everything everybody said, was just the usual exaggeration. That nothing could compare to the winters back home. Are you sure you want to go? We were sure. We needed the change. You all said it rained a lot. But it rains everywhere. And anyway, was there any reason we should’ve believed you? You hadn’t been here before either. No one had.
In my mind, once I got here, I’d be everything I couldn’t be at home: productive, inspired, thoughtful. I figured that even if those dark, gloomy days turned out to be true, they‘d still be good for writing. That they might bring out the brooding nature in me. I’m still none of those things, by the way. Only colder. I can hear you now: can’t say we weren’t warned, but there you go. We’re here and that’s it.
We have a heater, but not the money to turn it on. When she goes off to work, I sit and write until my feet go numb. Then I stand and write, using a shelf in the closet. I’m glad no one is there to see me, stamping my feet and hopping around looking at a blank piece of paper. When my hands go numb from inactivity, I know the day is done and I quit. I know you don’t think I’m doing anything, but I’m trying.
I went walking today. The words weren’t coming and I needed to get outside. Walking is about the only accomplishment there is these days. Putting one foot ahead of the other, keeping the blood warm—these have become endeavors. The air was thick with the smell of rotting leaves. They fill the gutter and get pounded to mush in the streets. Still, it’s a better to be out in the air rather than watching the mold creep in from the window or feeling the cold air that blows in from some unfindable place, some tiny hole deep within our apartment—our flat—that lets the air in.
You were right. That wet cold—it really gets into the bones.
Thank God for whisky.
James Patterson was born on a cattle and grain farm in rural Manitoba, Canada. He has worked as a farm laborer, factory worker and writer. His fiction was longlisted for the 2016 CBC Short Story Contest. His essays can be found in BootsnAll Magazine and the Wanderlust Journal. He is currently working on a book.
Cagibi Issue 6