His blood fell into the snow, sending tendrils skating out through the compacted flakes. His bare feet, bruised by the cold, shifted deeper into the thick powder. He eased the blade of his razor against the slight dash in his cheek, and a second droplet spread from the wound down the side the cutthroat tool, which he flicked off onto his toes.
The water in his shaving bowl shivered around blocks of icy snow which he had not been able to melt. As he dipped the blade into the water to rinse it, a wisp of cruor stretched out into the silver light the water caught.
Last night he had camped beneath Sirius, he had known it, though the darkness of the sky was absolute (or perhaps it was simply the inside of his eyelids, closed by cold). The empty shape of winter had been cast overhead by a gap in the frozen canopy of dead branches. The softness of it had come down to him and slashed the tendons in his thighs, for the were severed by the frost. He had watched winter come – or had known it through the darkness, for he had not slept – and leer at him with eyes the blue-grey arctic of death. He had felt the hand with the dagger stretch out and penetrate his muscle. And the smell of the old man had been that of a corpse embalmed with lavender.
The bushes around him keep him up at night, you can see through them, inspect their insides. Their roots grow beneath the snow as golden cancer wraps itself about lung tissue.
He closes the razor and places it back into the trouser pocket of the man he killed. The man lies beneath the tree branch he has hung his clothes from. Snow is slowly brushed into the cavities of the corpse’s armpits and between its chin and shoulder. He walks away beneath his hanging clothes and towards the patch of forest where the bushes tangle over themselves in knots. A fresh fall of snowflakes begin to fall about his naked form as his striped trousers barely move in a wind drawn by the sense of spring.