Fiction from Mandira Pattnaik

Photo: Harald Matern

When It Freezes, You Realize the Sugar Maple Tree Holds Its Snow

In your crazy fairytale, your husband is an elf, your home a postcard, the time Christmas, with holiday roasts and popular jokes. The Sugar Maple tree, soaring to the azure, colonizing the void above your backyard, is heavy with milky snow, like a nursing mother, its roots in the nursery of a soft blanket of white. Your stale imagination is meandering to your little girl across the fence, hungry and cold, meeting an ursine trio, choosing the middle one of the dialectical three, just the right, getting hurt nonetheless. You wander off, shovel in hand, beyond the fence, deep into the woods. You dig the snow to free her, until it’s a heap, high as the Alps. Tonight, you’ll delete the braggadocio of that day, New Year’s Eve, year 2009. Reboot with one where you three never went to Val-d’l-sere. Or skiing in the blizzard. Your husband never egged the seven-year-old on to put on her ski boots, clip on the skis, never mocked you for being a nag. New one will be a holiday at home here in London, sitting around a fire, a warm dinner, she in your lap, singing, clapping, laughing.

Mandira Pattnaik‘s fiction has appeared in Watershed Review, Passages North, EllipsisZine, Bending Genres, Splonk, Citron Review and Amsterdam Quarterly, among other places. She is happy to have received nominations for Pushcart Prize ’21, BOTN ’20 and Best Microfiction ’21. Prime Number Magazine, New Flash Fiction Review, FlashBack Fiction, Trampset and West Trestle will feature her work in upcoming Issues. She lives in India.

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