• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 05
Image by


The frost came in the night, unbidden. Winter was pretending to be spring, mild and much too moist. Armed with sandbags and wellies, we grew complacent. Too busy worrying about the rain, the riverbanks, and flood planes, we forgot about the cold. It was March, yet there had been no snow. No sprinkling in November, no dusting in December, no flurry in February. Scarves had been worn, but more as an accessory, their purpose merely decorative. Gloves and hats remained tucked in cupboards, enjoying an unnaturally long hibernation.

It came quick, sneaking up blades of grass, crawling over twigs and fallen leaves, easing up tree trunks and shimmying along branches. It crystalised cobwebs, then talons, feet, beaks and feathers. The thickest of down was no match; it crept in every crevice and pore, permeated skin and membrane, chilling blood and bone and marrow. They died as they slumbered.

After the pale rays of a halfhearted morning sun melted the nimble sparkle from every surface within its reach, they began to fall. Starling, thrush, sparrow, robin, tit and finch. Even the exotic green of a parakeet. They littered the lawn beneath the bare ash and oak, such perfect little corpses.