Edinburgh in the snow is like a fairy-tale. This is the thought that sits in the forefront of Lizzy’s mind as they lets their gaze travel the length of Princes Street below them. Their little venture had been Sophie’s idea, to just get out for a walk, apocalypse be damned.
After the initial panic, they had spent the first four days couped up in their flat, hoping things would pass, somehow. They did not pass. Rather, things seemed to worsen by the hour. With the fires and screaming and rubble in the streets, came panic and dread and fear, burning and crashing through the roof of Sophie and Lizzy’s home. All the days of kissing against the kitchen counter, every quiet afternoon spent snuggled up reading, every movie night turned lazy make-out session, gone in an instant. Replaced with blacked out windows and whispered anxieties, shaking hands clutching for reassurance at every noise, cold evenings spent listening intently for any sign of news.
By day four of waiting – for news, for help, for the end – Sophie had had enough.
“Alright, we can’t stay here.”
Lizzy startled, “What do you mean?”
“We can’t stay here. It’s been days, we should probably think about going somewhere.”
“Leaving?” Lizzy blinked slowly, as if waking from a dream.
“Not anything drastic, sorry,” Sophie quickly moved to stroke her hands up and down her girlfriend’s arms, keeping them grounded. “I just meant – well, why don’t we go for a walk?”
Lizzy’s silence spoke for itself.
“C’mon, not many people will be around, I bet. We can pick up some suppliessomewhere. We’re nearly out of soup.”
“I don’t even like soup.”
Sophie gave Lizzy ‘The Look’. The ‘Raised Eyebrow of I Wasn’t Asking Look’, one Lizzy knew very well.
“Lizzy, it’ll be fine. Just a quick walk round town, yeah? We’ll be careful.”
And so here they were, on the top steps of the Scott Monument, taking in the empty expanse of one very destroyed Princes Street.
“I’ve never seen it so… still.” Lizzy whispers.
“Neither. It’s eerie. Feels like –“ Sophie stopped herself abruptly, swallowing the words.
Lizzy snorted at the ridiculousness of the situation, and sidled closer to Sophie’s warmth.
“It’s the quiet that’s weirding me out more than anything. I could almost pretend it’s just early morning or a particularly bad snow day, if not for the absolute silence.”
They let the silence say its piece for a few minutes.
“Well, that’s enough wallowing for me,” Lizzy stood up and reached a hand down to their shivering girlfriend, “Should we get back? I know we haven’t seen anyone yet but I don’t want to push our luck.”
Sophie’s eyeroll could have moved mountains. “No one is going to mug us, Lizzy.”
“You don’t know. Disasters tend to bring the worst out in some people.”
“Disasters…” Sophie’s eyes followed the barren road in front of them; the colony of abandoned buses and taxis; the ransacked buildings; the damage to the pavement – it was worse here than around their flat, although it’s hard to tell from under the inches of fresh snow.
Sophie’s eyes fell to the huge box of flyers at the bottom of the steps, presumably having been dumped in the panic, maybe pushed out of a vehicle to make room for essentials.
What’s Going On
At The National Gallery
Sophie nodded down to the soggy leaflets. “Can we go to the gallery?”
Before Lizzy could open their mouth to protest, Sophie had pulled them up and down the steps.
“C’mon, how many people can say they’ve had free reign in The National Gallery?”
“Not many I guess, but –“
“Ugh… fine. As long as you promise we’ll turn and head home at the first sign of trouble.”
“Yes, yes, promise. Come on.”
The walk from the Monument to the gallery was short but took twice as long as it would have pre-end-of-times, due to the debris-dodging and damage-inspecting. Sophie even stopped to put out a small fire by an abandoned car. By the time they reached the doors, Lizzy’s fingers had gone numb in Sophie’s grip.
They both held their breath as they cross the threshold, irrationally afraid that an alarm would blare and shutters would drop, the entire thing a set-up. But there were no alarms, no shutters. Just their steps echoing through the halls, accompanied only by Sophie’s quiet exclamations of wonder under her breath.
“Oh wow, look at this one.” Sophie pulled Lizzy toward a large painting, nose nearly touching the wall as she read the description. “Says it was painted in1895. Look at the details.”
“It is impressive. Is it Princes Street?”
Sophie’s replying nod was joined by a wistful sigh, “I wish I could paint.”
“You have other talents.”
“You see the best in everyone, in every situation.”
The tilt of Sophie’s head was almost comical. “Do I?”
“Yes. You – Soph, you’ve literally dragged me to an art gallery in the middle of the apocalypse. If that isn’t seeking out the best in a situation, I’m not sure what is.”
Lizzy had only a moment to appreciate Sophie’s glowing blush before they had an armful of soppy girlfriend. “Oh! Soph –“
“I love you so so so much, you know that right?”
Lizzy’s replying “yeah” is heavy with the weight of everything they’ve been through – recent and past. They cleared their throat and pulled Sophie closer. “I love you too.”
After what could’ve been a few minutes or several hours, they pulled apart andsilently approached another painting, still standing as close together as their layers of jumpers and coats would allow. Sophie’s eyes locked on the canvas;Snow by Joan Eardley, 1958, the note on the wall said helpfully.
“That’s beautiful. It’s so peaceful, isn’t it?” Sophie leaned her head on Lizzy’s shoulder.
A Queerativity Tale is a Queerativity original story updated by a new Queer Artist at the beginning of each month. If you are interested in writing an issue for A Queerativity Tale, please email [email protected] or fill out the Get Involved Form.