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The Unknown White

On that day came the unknown White. It was just another Mediterranean afternoon. Only a few days before that, the majestic sun shone brightly, sending its God-sent light to the rain-craving soil below. The familiar dry warm wind danced above the land, hopping from tree to tree, from head to head, reminding all that autumn is still not ready to move aside and let winter take its place.

What for years had been considered to be a myth, told to children at bedtime or coming out of veteran mouths, those who had been around long enough to witness the great White with their own eyes, once, when they were still young, became a fantastical reality.

It had caught them all off guard and there was no time to prepare; there was no time to adjust. On that day, strange clouds appeared in the sky, pushing the color aside, yet no rain came down. It was all unnaturally still and quiet, too quiet, so quiet that it seemed the end of the world might just be around the corner. But nothing happened. The silence spread around, bringing everything to a sudden stop, with an unexplained feeling of expectation, of yearning for something no one thought to be possible, beyond the realm of words, beyond the realm of knowledge. And then, tender small flakes started falling down from high above, one by one. The air grew cold and filled with millions of tiny flakes, somewhat resembling dandelion seed heads. But unlike the dandelion seeds, which would always fly away and dissolve after an encounter with the wind or a birthday wish, or simply a wish they had carried with them, the white flakes didn’t leave. They stayed. Was it? Could it? No, it couldn’t. What are the chances? The unknown White couldn’t be real. Not here, where it’s mostly warm and sunny; not after all those years no one had seen it.

Everything happened so fast. The White kept on piling up, covering the land, covering everything, discoloring everything, bringing the unknown with it. The ancient olive trees, which had been there long before the people came, stood still in their confusion, not knowing whether to fear or to embrace the foreign whiteness enveloping them. It was the end of the autumn harvest and the people had left them bearing no life, as the unknown White rested on their branches. Even the venomous creatures and the nearly invisible insects hadn’t seen it coming and only barely managed to escape the freezing veil of the White, crawling to some hidden spot deep in the ground and out of sight. The people themselves were suspicious at first, afraid to leave their houses, but gradually they caved into the luring shine of the unknown White. They stepped outside, their feet sinking into the thick icy layer, mesmerized by the white quilt covering their land.

Despite the warnings of their parents, the children couldn’t resist the mysterious White which rested beneath their feet. They bent down and touched it! They touched the unknown White, giggling in excitement and taking a handful of it in their gloved hands. They formed icy balls and threw them at each other.The concerned parents, who had realized no danger was in store, joined them. What a sight that was! Hundreds of people rushing out of their houses, and jumping onto the White, rolling in it, their eyes not quite believing what they were beholding. So many smiles, so much laughter after a long time no one had laughed; after a long bloody summer, which had destroyed too many crops and lives, which had been taken away before they were due.

So it was true! The unknown White wasn’t just a figment of their imagination! It was nothing short of magic! A white fairytale-like landscape looking nothing like their war-struck home. The world seemed so different, so pure, so gentle. The White had covered it with its loving layers, stroking the rivers with its frosty fingertips and uniting the waters residing in them, adorning the trees with a glowing ghostly freshness and the roofs with sparkling glacial drops of rain. The unknown White was so powerful, that it could even give the breaths coming out of them a shape, a form, a visibility. Or were these their own souls, swirling out of their mouths and flying free in the crispy air? They wished the enchanting unknown White could stay there forever and help them forget. Forget the long, unbearable summers, forget the droughts, forget the screams, forget the fear, forget the rage and the picture of grieving families standing over freshly dug graves. They wished the benevolent White phantom could haunt them for as long as it wishes, so they won’t have to see the world hidden underneath it; so they won’t have to face the tangible truth clearing its way through the heavy snow and following the footsteps they had left behind.

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