By Helen Dunmore
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Extra resources for A Spell of Winter
I knew the icy gush of pump water on a blazing July afternoon when Rob and I took turns to work the handle and let the water pulse out over our arms. It was my house, too. I had the smell of it in my clothes and on my skin. The sky is not going to clear. Mist rises off the ground and mixes with the thickening grains of cold in the air. The sun is fading. Perhaps it is going to snow. It is winter, my season. Rob’s was summer. He was born in June, and I was born in the middle of the night, on the 21st of December.
I wanted us to wake to a kingdom of ice where our breath would turn to icicles as it left our lips, and we would walk through tunnels of snow to the outhouses and find birds fallen dead from the air. I willed the snow to lie for ever, and I turned over and buried my head under the pillow so as not to hear the chuckle and drip of thaw. I look at the house, still and breathless in the frost. I have got what I wanted. A spell of winter hangs over it, and everyone has gone. Two Rob’s season was summer.
Father had never liked Miss Gallagher. But now Father was gone, and Miss Gallagher was taking us to see him. Miss Gallagher came back and took my hand without saying anything. I was afraid the chocolate would get on her gloves, so I tried to pull my hand away, but she only held on harder. Suddenly the woman at the desk stood up and smiled. Her voice poured like treacle across the shiny wooden floor. ‘He may be in the garden. It’s such a perfect day,’ she said to Miss Gallagher, as if it were their secret.