Winter’s tales

Cover of "The Tent"

 Things look bad: I admit it. They look worse than they’ve looked for years, for centuries, they look the worst ever. Perils loom on all sides. But it could still turn out all right….



p>The airbags actually worked. The cheque did not bounce. The prescription drug company was not lying. The shark nudged the sailor’s naked, bleeding leg, then turned away…. When he said, My darling, you are the only woman I will adore forever, he really meant it. As for her, despite the scowling and the cold shoulder and the unanswered phone, it turned out she’d loved him all along.

At this dim season of the year we hunger for such tales. Winter’s tales, they are. We want to huddle round them, as if around a small but cheerful fire. The sun sets at four, the temperature plummets, the wind howls, the snow cascades down. Though you nearly froze your fingers off, you did get the tulips planted, just in time. In four months they’ll come up, you have faith in that, and they’ll look like the picture in the catalogue. In the brown earth there were already hundreds of small green shoots, you didn’t know what they were — some sort of little bulb — but they were intending to grow, despite everything. What would you call them if they were in a story? Would they be happy endings, or happy beginnings? But they aren’t in a story, and neither are you. You tucked them back under the mulch and the dead leaves, however. It was the right thing to do on the darkest day of the year.


— “But It Could Still”
from The Tent by Margaret Atwood


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