Jenny watched the frantic dance of snowflakes outside her father’s upstairs window. Each one is different, she remembered as a sudden flurry peppered the glass. She sighed as their fragile forms distorted, melted, and slid to obscurity - their unique beauty lost forever.
A chill crept through her like rising damp, and she pulled her father’s chunky Arran cardigan tightly around her. Jenny rubbed her face against the collar, inhaling the familiar comfort of better days. He’d had this cardigan forever.
She felt her energy sapping away, and the old rocking chair creaked in protest as she flopped down in it suddenly. Pushing back, Jenny set the chair in motion and closed her eyes against the darkening sky. Her hands cradled the mound of her belly, and she slowly stroked her unborn child as it turned, stretching the round, distorting the form of her shape.
A voice calling her name woke her. Jenny opened her eyes and found that it was night. Immediately furious with herself she struggled to her feet, she’d not intended to sleep at all.
She hurried to the next bedroom and opened the door.
“Dad, did you call, are you alright?”
“Ha-ha! Now we both know that’s a daft question,” her father said, the effort of laughing causing him to cough into a handkerchief.
Jenny pulled a chair up to the bed and took his hand, a hand that was almost skeletal, a hand that felt paper- light, a hand that full of strength, used to hold hers when she skipped alongside him.
“Well you know what I meant, are you feeling any worse, I thought I heard you call me?” she said anxiously scanning his face. She definitely thought he looked more drawn, and his skin seemed almost translucent in the yellow glow of the bedside lamp.
“Aye I did call you, but I‘m feeling not too bad as it goes,” he leaned forward and squeezed her hand. Even this was too much for him, his breath rattled and rasped in his chest, and he sank back down onto his pillows like a deflated balloon.
“Dad, just lie there and try and get some sleep,” Jenny said blinking rapidly and swallowing hard. Life could be cruel, you’d think at the end there’d be some respite.
Her father shook his head and looked at her, the old flame was suddenly lit in his eyes, and he wagged his finger from side to side.
“Plenty of time for sleep soon. No, I want to tell you something, and if I don’t say it now I may not get the chance.”
“No need to say it dad, I know what...“
“No you don’t know what I’m going to say. You think I want to say I love you and stuff, well there’s no need because you know it,” he wiped his mouth with the handkerchief. “No I wanted to say that I read one of your stories a while ago and it was good, really good. I forgot to mention it with all the tests and hospital trips, but I think you should do something with them.”
Jenny flushed with pride. He had never been one to praise her for anything really, so this meant a lot. She’d never really imagined doing anything with her scribbling. She had written for pleasure almost as long as her dad had owned that cardigan, but had only shown her stories to family and friends.
“Well, I suppose I could send one or two off somewhere and see what happens?”
“There’s no suppose about it. Do it, and do it soon. Too many of us go through life and never leave our mark. I’ve done my best, worked hard and looked after my family, but I won’t be remembered for anything in particular.” He took another painful breath. “My story will remain untitled Jen; don’t let the same thing happen to yours.”
Jenny couldn’t blink fast enough, or swallow hard enough, and the tears escaped, chasing each other over her face like melting snowflakes on the pane. They held hands in silence as no words were necessary.
She thought about her dad, their old life, and the new life growing inside her. Lastly she thought again about how each snowflake was unique and beautiful, and how unbearably sad it was that some melted without ever been seen at all. Jenny edged nearer and placed her father’s hand on her belly.
“I promise you dad, I’ll try my best to leave behind to this little one a story worth telling, and I’ll make damned sure he knows that you handed down the tale.”