Violets in the Snow
By Veronica Scott
It was just a little heart-shaped china box, with one gorgeous violet painted on the lid. Every day as she walked past the window of Celia’s Closet on her way to work, Amy would check to see if the box was still there, nestled in the corner of the display. Sure, violets were her favorite flower, but something about the tiny container itself appealed to her.
Celia’s store was crammed to the rafters with knick knacks, vintage clothing and fashion jewelry of every era, but Amy rarely allowed herself to venture inside. She never had extra money to spend and certainly not on decorative dust catchers. But yesterday at the diner someone had left her an unusually large tip and today Amy found herself turning to enter the enticing store without even thinking about it.
“Did you come for the violet box?” asked Celia as soon as she saw who’d walked in.
Stripping off her purple mittens, Amy did a double-take. “How did you know?”
“You spend five minutes every morning staring at it.” Celia laughed and went to pluck the item from the crowded window.
The box felt cold on Amy’s palm but gradually warmed as she turned it this way and that, admiring the delicacy of the painted flower. The box seemed perfect—its gold colored trim bright, no glazing to mar the smooth surface. When she fumbled with the miniature latch, however, nothing happened.
“I don’t know why, but the lid won’t open,” Celia said, watching her. “Maybe someone glued it shut at some point. Or the hinge broke. Certainly it’s too small to hold anything inside.”
“How much?” Amy braced herself to give the box back if the price Celia named was too high. Some of the vintage items in her shop were worth amazing amounts of money, which the tourists paid without question.
“Oh, say $5.00? Even though the flower’s obviously hand painted by a real artist, there’s no signature and it’s so petite.” Celia shrugged. “I found it at the bottom of a box of things the executor consigned from the old Winters estate.”
“I’ll take it.” After handing over the money, Amy tucked the box in her pocket and left, rushing not to be late to her job at the small diner down the block.
After work that night, Amy set the little box on her nightstand, smiling at the single beautiful flower as she turned out the light. Somewhere around two AM, she sat up with a start, clutching the blanket and staring around at the room. It was snowing. Inside the room.
I must be dreaming.
Reaching out, she caught a sparkling flake on her hand. The snow promptly melted into a drop of cold water. Rubbing her palm dry, Amy burrowed under the blanket. If I had air conditioning in this place, I’d say it was seriously malfunctioning.
She watched as the snow fell, unsure what was going on. After a few moments, the flakes turned to flower petals and then stopped. Peeking over the side of the bed, Amy realized she now had a carpet of velvety purple petals.
“Too much wine at dinner,” she said, shaking her head. She punched the pillow and lay back. “I’m asleep, this is a dream and the alarm is going to buzz all too soon.” Closing her eyes, Amy rolled over and pulled the blankets closer. “Or they put the wrong kind of mushrooms on the pizza maybe.”
Sure enough, in the morning there was no sign of snowflakes or flower petals in her single room apartment. Sun streamed in the window, glancing off the sparkling china box. Amy kept glancing at the painted violet as she rushed around to get dressed and do her minimal morning routine. I hope I’m not going to have weird dreams about flowers and snow every night.
Business was slow at the diner, as things were all over town. Edwardsville was a ski resort, high in the mountains, but this had been an unusually dry year. No snow meant no tourists. Amy hoped her boss wouldn’t have to reduce her hours even further.
On her lunch, bored, she surfed the net to distract herself from worrying over the lack of tips. Somehow Amy found herself looking at legends and myths involving violets. Her favorite was an old English variation on the story of Persephone and the god of the underworld. In this tale, the lovers were the King of Winter and a girl named Violet. Amy had to return to waiting tables before reading the end of the legend but was sure she could guess the outcome. “Happily ever after,” she said with a grin as she tied her apron on.
That night, she woke at 2AM, shivering, covered by a blanket of sparkling, soft white snow. “Oh, this is too much,” she said, sitting up and shoving the snowdrift to the floor. Picking up the little box as snow continued to fall around her, Amy said, “I love you but I can’t have these dreams every night.”
As if her words had been a magic spell, the snow stopped and the box lid sprang open. Something glittered inside. Rising to turn on the bedside lamp, looking more closely into the box, Amy retrieved a stunning platinum ring, set with a pure white diamond, held in the center of a white gold snowflake by four prongs. “Wow!”
“Violet Winters, you’ve waited too long to wear the Snow King’s ring,” said a deep voice.
With a small scream, Amy turned to find six feet six of Tall, Dark & Handsome Male occupying the center of her small room. Hands on his hips, the man was glaring at her, brows drawn together in a frown, violet blue eyes blazing. His old fashioned clothes were silver, tight breeches doing nothing to hide his superb physique, topped by a cloak trimmed with ermine. On his head was a white gold crown, accented with diamond crusted snowflakes.
“The Snow King who gave you that pledge of true love is long dead and you’d better not be expecting me to honor the terms.”
“Um, I’m not Violet Winters, I don’t even know a Violet Winters.” Amy backed up until she ran into the nightstand. “I’m Amy Smith and I bought this box from a secondhand shop yesterday.” Why am I answering him, this is a crazy dream! Wake UP!
The man pointed at her hand. “But that’s the Snow King’s ring and you did say you loved—”
“The box. I love the box and the flower. Violets are my favorite flower.” She thrust the ring at him. “Here, take this and get out however you got in. It’s too flashy for me anyway.”
He took the ring and the touch of his fingers against her hand was curiously warm. Her flesh tingled and she took a deep breath. “Look, I know this is just a dream, so can we be done, please? Can you just poof? Leave?” She snuck a glance at the clock and moaned. “I have to be at work early tomorrow, I mean later today, oh God, it’s 3AM—”
“My apologies for frightening you.” He tucked the ring into a pocket on the inside of his sweeping cloak.
“Why were you so angry at this Violet person?”
“She’s kept us waiting for centuries, in case she decided to redeem the honor given to her by my grandfather and marry one of my bloodline. He wanted to wed her himself but eventually he married a snow nymph.” Her uncanny visitor grinned. “They can be very persuasive.”
She realized she didn’t even know his name. “Are you Jack Frost?” Amy asked, sitting on the bed, then standing right back up again.
“That jester?” The man’s disdain was plain. “I’m Gaimhreadh, Ruler of all Winter.”
“Pleased to meet you, sir.” Should I curtsey or something? “You know, the lady who owned this box before me was named Winters. She was really old, over 100 maybe, but not centuries. Not old enough to be the woman your ancestor wanted to marry. She didn’t leave any family.” Amy looked at the box. “Do you want this too?”
“No, although ‘tis kind of you to offer. I can see how much you treasure it so please retain the trinket, with my blessing.” He bowed. “I guess the mystery of the original Violet will never be solved now but I’m glad to have met you. Winter owes you a debt, for removing us from the shadow of a very onerous pledge.”
Feeling slightly foolish, but figuring anything goes in a dream, Amy said, “If you do owe me a favor in return, can you make it snow? The town is dying without snow for the ski runs, to bring the tourists. There isn’t even enough for making a decent snowman. It’s been a—” She bit her lip.
“A what?” He smiled and the effect was devastating.
Well, I can’t very well tell him it’s been a bad winter. She could feel her cheeks growing warm.
“I’ll leave you to your slumbers, Amy. Sweet dreams.” He bowed like an actor in a BBC historical series and was….gone.
Feeling a bit bereft and lonely, Amy set the box on the nightstand again, closing the lid with one hand before turning off the light. “He was a very nice dream,” she said as she drifted back to sleep.
Walking to work later in the morning was a joy, as snow fell gently from a leaden sky. It was the kind of steady snowfall that would stick and build up into wonderful powder for the ski runs. Amy felt like skipping along the sidewalk and she knew she was smiling ear to ear, even though she really couldn’t take credit for the turn in the weather. Could she? Just because I had a crazy dream -
She’d barely gotten her coat put away in the cramped break room and her apron tied on when the bell on the front counter rang. Hastening into the dining room, Amy stopped in the threshold, riveted by the sight of the man from her dream, dressed more prosaically today in very expensive but practical European ski wear. No crown, no ermine cape.
Grinning, he winked. “Is this what you had in mind when you asked for snow? Or must I do more to win your favor?” He held out his hand.
“Oh come on, this can’t be happening!” She barely noticed his heavy gold signet ring, with a crown and a snowflake, because she was staring at the heart-shaped bouquet of very out-of-season purple violets he was offering.
“My favorite flower,” she said.
“And mine.” He bowed. “I’m hoping that isn’t all we’ll find in common.”
As she led him to the best table, the one next to the fireplace, Amy said, “And they lived happily ever after?”
“Something like that might be possible,” he agreed with the warm smile that lit up his face.
“I’m off at five.” She placed the menu in front of him.
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