Waves crashed ceaselessly against the shore, the repetitive rhythm slowly rousing Malinda from her dreams. She sighs, and reached beside her in the bed, fumbling for the glasses she knew she’d left there. It took a minute, but she soon found them and placed them on her face, blinking before she looked to the amber numbers on her alarm clock.
It was always six fifty-three when she woke up and looked at the clock. Every morning, the same time.
She sighed, and threw back the covers, hissing in a breath from the early-morning chill, and grabbing for her robe where it hung on the headboard. Slipping her feet into slippers and pulling on her robe, she pulled back her hair and twisted it up with an elastic before shuffling down the hall.
A dozing grey tabby skittered out of the way with an annoyed sound.
“Oh, Ezzie, you know I’m not gonna step on you. Hush now.”
Malinda chuckled and moved through the house into the kitchen, smiling as she filled the teakettle and set it on the stove to heat. Her attention strayed to the window, where she could see through the wavy glass panes that the cardinals were already at the feeders, feasting on the bounty she’d left for them. As the teakettle whistled she was roused from her thoughts, and turned to pour steaming water over a fragrant teabag, letting it sit on the counter.
“What should we have for breakfast, Ezzie?” she asked the feline winding around her ankles.
Esmerelda just sat, curled her tail around her front paws, and meowed again.
Malinda chuckled and leaned down to run her fingers over the cat’s head and down her back. “You’re no help at all.” she said with a smile.
Outside, fat snowflakes began to flutter against the windowpanes of the old farmhouse, and the sight made Malinda pause a moment, and smile. She moved towards the window again and pressed one hand to the glass, grinning. “Looks like we’re going to be stuck inside for a while. Good thing I stocked up, hmm?” Taking her tea then, she made her way to the sunken living room, where she flipped on the radio to hear the local newsperson talking about the blizzard.
“They talk like it’s a surprise.” she said, looking to the grey tabby with a grin.
As she heard the wind start whistling in the eaves she shivered. “I’d best get a fire going, or it’s going to be one cold day.” she said, and set to the task she’d done so many times. As the kindling caught she waited, letting it blaze a moment before she set three logs atop the flames. Before long a warming fire burned in the fireplace, and she placed the screen in front to keep the embers from setting fire to her grandmother’s braided rug.
The radio droned on about being safe in the storm, and Malinda shook her head, heading to the couch with her mug. She pulled an old quilt over her legs and snuggled into the cushions. Outside the window she could see the storm was gaining strength. She reached in the basket beside her, and pulled out a half-finished shawl, the intricate lace pattern lost in the bunched up stitches, but she knew it would be worth it in the end.
Eventually the morning news led to the random playlist of soft ‘adult contemporary’ music her favorite station played, and she continued wrapping the yarn rhythmically over the needles, occasionally lifting her mug to take a sip of the warm tea. The fire crackled and popped and hissed, the sound as comforting as a lullabye for Malinda, and she curled up in the plush pillows of her old couch, setting down her knitting and letting her eyes drift closed. ‘Just a short nap’ she told herself as Esmerelda curled up on her chest, and before long, she was soundly dozing.
* * ~ * * ~ * *
Outside, the snow continued to pile up. It was up to the bottom step by the time Malinda started to doze off, and when she roused again, it had reached the bottom of her windows. She shivered, then laughed as her stomach loudly protested the fact that she’d never managed to make breakfast. “Ezzie, why’d you let me fall asleep?” she asked of the purring feline, gently shifting her off her chest. She pushed to her feet and shuffled back into the kitchen. “I’ll just make some eggs and bacon, hmm?” Esmerelda meowed from the living room, where she’d curled up in the warm spot left where Malinda’d been sleeping.
A noise at the back door didn’t get her attention at first, the sizzle of beaten eggs in the old cast iron skillet taking most of her attention. When it was repeated a second, then a third time however she turned and looked at the mud room. “What on earth could that be?”