Justine starts to feel settled. Calm. She’s sure that this is the calm that will last, and she wants it to disperse through her limbs and effectively suffocate all the ill feelings and twinges of regret that have been threatening to smother her.
There’s something to be said about taking a hothouse flower out into the cold. At first she might find the cold beautiful, translucent and pure. The birches will look like sentinels, casting symmetric shadows on untouched snow. Eventually, though, her petals will start to shrink and wither under the weight of white-blue hoar frost. She needs heat, and near constant sun to grow.
After only a month of Alaskan winter, Justine starts dreaming of greenhouses and conservatories. Humidity is something to be craved, even though it tends to slow the breath and scramble the mind. She wants to feel warm in Blake’s arms again, their limbs melting in July sweat, their toes sunburnt. She misses the smug feeling she gets when a tan line forms beneath her wedding band. Branded. How could she live without perfumed magnolia skin, chiggers hiding in pale green Spanish moss, the alien presence of a praying mantis?
But Blake is mostly happy so far North. Before, he had worked under the sun’s constant glare. When he arrived home at night all he wanted was to shower, then slip between white sheets and fall asleep. Now he works in the cool underground, but in the winter the sun goes underground too. Blake only sees the sun on the weekend. Justine sometimes tells him how pretty the ten o’clock sunrise was, how it made the snow sparkle like spun sugar. She tells him how the sky went from indigo to purple to cornflower, would you believe it? He’s not sure he believes any of it. Maybe Justine is making it all up so he’ll feel better about breathing in so much darkness.