CHAPTER 1 – Winter
To Tomas Stillman, it seemed that winter was the craftiest season. Winter didn’t announce itself to his senses like the first fragrant blush of spring; or invite his body to play like summer, with warm breezes across his shoulder; or even, like its closest cousin fall, bid his heart safe rest within a panoply of colors. No, Tomas Stillman was convinced that winter was a creeping season and for nearly fifty years he had been surprised each year as it crept in slowly, the result, he was sure, of some perverse derangement of the universe.
It wasn’t that he didn’t know that winter had always come; he could mark its coming on the calendar. He knew with a elemental certainty that it followed the course of the other seasons, like night following day and death following life. But its coming had always slipped unnoticed, unheralded into his soul, like days flowing along a dark river of time until something struck him. It could be the paler cast of shadow on the sidewalk as he walked along. It could be a brief flash of memory like an unremembered photograph, or a snippet of unintelligible conversation overheard like a falling melody. When this might happen he could never tell, though he knew with inevitable certainty that it would each year. Still, there was something in his makeup that resisted the idea and he went on about his life ignoring it to the best of his ability. Inevitably some arrangement of random details would fall together like tumblers in a vault and the idea of winter would open within him.