Your Story VI: Tine II

After a longer hiatus (for reasons I really don’t want to go into right now) “Your Story” returns with a short story. According to the universal rules of short story writing, if you can’t find a plot, a beginning or an ending or basically anything that makes sense in a short story, this is entirely your fault. You just didn’t get it. So enjoy this one – and remember that you can still submit your own challenge here.
What I got:

Also, wenn hier keiner mehr Stichworte für neue Geschichten liefert, auf die ich natürlich warte, wieder etwas von mir, auch wenn mir kreative Ideen fehlen:

Lappland

Frühlingblumen

Moment

englische Geschichten scheinen Dir mehr zu liegen, also auf Englisch und einfach eine Kurzgeschichte.

What that means:

[freely translated] Well, if nobody gives you items for new stories anymore, for which I am waiting anxiously, something more from me, even if I lack creative ideas:

Lapland

Spring Flowers

Moment

English stories seem to be more your thing, so in English and a simple short story.

The story idea:

Snow was slowly drifting down from the black sky. The sun had set days ago and still the long dark night of the Lapland winter had just begun. The frost-covered windows of the small town were brightly lit. Behind them, people could be seen. But outside the gentle breeze felt like a gale. It was bitterly cold. A wolf howled.

***

In a winter that had been colder since any other since, the Barents Sea had been entirely frozen through. One could have easily wandered from Scandinavia to Svalbard – but of course nobody was around in that time to do that. But something crossed the sea in that winter.

***

John Berry was a British Sociologist that had been living with the Sami people in the province of Lapland in Finland for two years. Nevertheless, their history and culture were still largely alien to him. The reindeer herders – only Sami people were allowed to take this job – had taken him into their circle graciously, but they had revealed very little about themselves. They conversed in modern Finnish, since very few of them still spoke any of the many Sami languages and despite John’s attempts to learn the language, he was still mostly reduced to speaking to the leader of the group, Tore Somby, the only one of them who knew English. Often, John had thought about just leaving and going back to Oxford, but the stoical behaviour of the Sami fascinated him and he felt that maybe he would learn something for science if he stayed longer. After all, the Sami were a dying people.

***

Walking through the snow was exhausting. He had started hours ago and still had made little progress. He couldn’t remember what it felt like not to be freezing. Even though the sparse forest offered some shelter, the snow lay deep on the ground. Even with his snowshoes, he sank deep with every step. He regretted not taking the cross-country skis. But what was done was done. He had to go on. It couldn’t be that much further. The moon shone brightly on a scene of incredible beauty. If only he weren’t so tired, he would surely enjoy it. Maybe even take a picture. But he shouldn’t stop now. He had to go on. Only another mile or so. He had to go on.

***

In late April, the snow would begin to melt. In a few weeks, the white land would turn brown again. And then, come May, it would turn green. Spring flowers would bloom everywhere. The few farmers would sow their fields and corn would grow quickly. The reindeer herders would go north, even further north, until they came to the sea. And the few remaining Sami people would live through another short summer. And when it ended, there would be even fewer true Sami, some of the younger ones having left the old home to move south, to the big cities like Oulu or even Helsinki. Many sought a better life there – and often found it. Few worried about losing the Sami identity.

***

John was worried. He didn’t know why he was worried, but Tore and the other reindeer herders were worried and he had caught their anxiety like the flu. They were talking urgently about something concerning the coming of spring, but he couldn’t understand much about it. For a while he thought that the one who had just returned inside from the bitter cold had said that spring wouldn’t come that year, but then John realized that this could not possibly be what the man had said, so he discarded the even more worrying thought of a never-ending Lapland winter. It must have been almost six weeks since he had last seen the sun set and he was looking forward to seeing it rise again soon.

***

Some winters in Lapland could make one think that another ice age had come. The absence of sunshine, the bitter cold and the fact that even though little snow was falling everything was white painted a picture of times long gone. Something had passed in silence.

***

In June, John and Tore stood on a rise on the northernmost edge of Finland. Behind them was a field of yellow globe-flowers. In front of them, the Barents Sea lay clear and blue. A slight wind was blowing. It was a clear day and looking out across the sea, John thought he could see to the end of the world. What a strange land this was. He still didn’t speak Finnish, but he thought he understood more of all the unspoken words the Sami used. For the first time in two years, he felt sure of something. Quietly, the moment passed.

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