Prologue | Denude

Get Me Through December by Natalie MacMaster

Dedicated to certifiable men, whose arms are the best place for seeking warmth, finding comfort, rage fests, and naked truths. 😉

Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York

The silence of the cemetery was deafening, as if somehow even the usually bustling ol’ New York knew better than to encroach on these sacred grounds.

With lips tinged in bruised blue and chattering teeth, she watched icy flakes swirled from behind heavy gray curtains before it joined the wind in a waltz across denude branches. Winter had began her reign.

The gnawing chill crept under her clothes, sinking into shivering flesh until it permeated bones. Wrapping the frayed coat tighter across her chest, she sank to the ground.

There were no flowers to cheer the snow covered gravestones. An unbroken wasteland of white, suitably bleak for a lone observance.

She turned twenty-one today.

Would they be proud of the woman she’d become? She didn’t have any answers, nor anyone to ask. They’d been gone from her life for so many years now- memories of them, especially of her mother were dimmed- wrapped in hazy flashes of snowy mornings, gentle arms and goodnight kisses.

Silent tears slid down her frozen cheeks as she huddled against cold stones, despairing and yearning for connection. Fiercely, she wiped at the wet trails, but the pain was suddenly unbearable, kicking viciously at her breastbone. She shut her eyes, heaving in one ragged breath after another as frost twined her isolation.

Fighting exhaustion, she lifted her head, blinking against the heavy lace veil bestowed upon her lashes; her slight frame jerked in surprise as she took in the silhouette of an unexpected companion.

Captivated by the warm hue, Khushi reached out, curling stiff fingers around the red umbrella.