Knitting North-East of Kviting

She sat knitting. Knitting. Knitting. Knitting, knitting, frantically knitting.

The 96-year-old woman sat in a folding chair, perched on the edge of an icy blue lake, woollen hat, sheepskin boots, warm coat and three blankets, fingerless gloves, knitting.

Why did she knit? Because the doctor told her to. It took three hours to drive to the town of Kviting to see a doctor. And that was all they could offer her? Knitting?

It just so happened that the shop next to the general store of Kviting sold knitting needles and yarn. She purchased some long needles, a book on 'knitting for seniors', and some thick purple yarn.

Click clack click clack click clack.

'Trust me,' the doctor had said. Why? she had thought.

But it was her only hope.

Hope, what a strange concept, she thought. Hope was for people who had lived a different life to her. And yet oddly enough, hope was the inspiration for the names of her two huskies, Håp and Nadzieja, meaning 'hope' in Norwegian and Polish respectively.

Click clack click clack.

Her cabin was warm and inviting with a log fire and fluffy cat, but she liked to suffer the cold like a Scotsman and drink up the view of the soul-drenching wilderness. The cold helped the thoughts stop; so did the knitting, just as the doctor had promised her.

Click clack click clack click clack.

In her mind's eye she heard screams, piercing, penetrating through space and time in the hope of finding anybody, anybody who could help.

Click clack click clack click clack.

Faster this time. She had to speed up to get ahead of the thoughts.

Help me, please help me! a distant voice shrieked from somewhere hidden in the murky depths of her inner mind.

Click clack click clack click clack.

It was a child. A young girl, hungry looking. Her own daughter. Blonde hair, rosy cheeks, even rosier in the cold.

Click clack click clack click clack.

At this time of year the ice on the lake was just beginning to turn to slush. You could see indentations left by the footprints of animals, fallen twigs, or even leaves. Nothing could pass here without leaving a mark, but then, other than her, there was no one else to witness it, so did it really matter?

Click clack click clack click clack.

Mama, please, I don't want to go! I don't want to go with them! That man looks scary!

Click clack click clack click clack.

That was a lifetime ago, back in Poland. Nazi-occupied Poland, two disabled children, you do the maths ...

Click clack click clack click clack.

And so she knitted booties, beanies, anything to keep her absent children warm.

Click clack click clack click clack.

What chance did a 96-year-old woman have of surviving in this cold?

Click clack click clack click ...

It was in this position that Håp and Nadzieja found their beloved companion surrounded by a colossal heap of purple baby booties. After howling and howling with no help at hand, they dragged her into the cabin to warm her by the fireplace, which was still alight.

Left behind at the lake was an empty chair, a purple mountain, and an indentation left by her two small boots.


Author note:

Submitted for the August 2011 WCC. See the link to the forum in my profile.

The prompt for this contest was "Hope is a cruel beast."