A Warm Voice (Su Su & Mo Yuan)

*mature content (18+ only)

Her fingers were stiff and aching from the cold but she only had a few more bundles to tie off. The chilly days of late autumn were beginning to give way to the cold ones of winter. Even now, she could see light snowflakes meandering down from the heavens, dancing on the breeze before melting once they hit the ground.

They won’t continue to melt for long, she thought as she paused to rub her chafed hands and blow her breath onto them.

The bundles of sticks she’d collected from the forest floor would help her keep her cooking fire, which also served to heat her hut, going through the winter. He’d told her she needed to collect more of these soon as once the winter came it would be difficult to gather sticks from under the snow. She’d been at it day after day for four days now. This batch should be one of the last. She nearly had enough now to supply her till spring.

Tying the final bundle off for the day, she attached it along with the others onto the back carrier. She wobbled off balance getting it on, but managed to position the heavy load on to her protesting back. She had to walk hunched over to keep it in place.

It’s not too far. I’ve done this three times already. Why is it more difficult now?

It was more difficult because the air was chillier and her back was quite sore from the previous days. She stole a glance at the darkening sky.

I need to hurry before the sun sets.

She’d only had to brush a little snow off her hair and shoulders when she arrived back at the hut.  She didn’t know what felt better, letting the load of bundled sticks drop off her back with a satisfying thump, or being able to hold her hands over the still warm embers of her banked cooking fire. As the heat infused her red, stiff hands, a stinging pain and ache followed. She grimaced as the muscles of her lower back seized.

I need to rest now. I’m not hungry anyway, I can just eat something tomorrow then store away the wood then. I can’t allow myself to get injured or sick. Who would help me if I did? He’d chastise me now if he were here.

She gazed over at her bed. I hope he comes tonight.


When she’d awoken on that bamboo bridge over the dried riverbed that day, her first thought hadn’t been where she was or how she had gotten there, but rather who had lost the beautiful fan that lay beside her.

And she still believed that it was the little kitten who’d greeted her there that had offered her its hospitality by leading her to its hut. The kitten’s dusty paw prints on the porch and floors letting her know it was the kitten’s place and it was allowing the white gossamer-gowned woman with the bleeding lips and confused mind to stay there. She never saw the kitten again after that day.

Her first afternoon had been spent exploring what she realized was a long abandoned dwelling. No other soul was around. It was just this dwelling and the bamboo forests beyond for as far as the eye could see.

When she’d found the old mirror on the dusty shelf and gingerly touched the red circle between her eyebrows, only then did it occur to her to finally ask…

Who am I?


He called her Shi Qi. She didn’t believe it could be her true name. Who is named after a number? But the way he said it, with a certain warmth and affection, made her feel that it was somehow right.

The first night she’d heard his voice, she’d been dreaming about a warm bed. Having only the silk gown she wore, she slept on the dusty bed curled tightly in a ball trying to keep warm in the chill of the night.

{Shi Qi, there’s a small town at the bottom of the eastern side of the mountain. Go there in the morning and seek the dressmaker’s shop. You can trade what is your valuable gown for several of warmer cloth as well as bargain for blankets and essential supplies.}

What a helpful voice! She’d indeed found the town where the man’s voice had said. The dressmaker’s eyes had literally bugged out his head when he took in the sight of her gown. She’d been able to bargain for 3 dresses of thicker, more practical cloth (she’d chosen simple colours that she liked) as well as 2 wool blankets, rice, and a knife which the dressmaker gave her quite willingly when she’d asked (the voice had told her she absolutely needed to get a knife for cutting wood and hunting small animals). It all made for a heavy load to carry back up the mountain but the dressmaker had also given her a back carrier she could use to bundle and strap her goods to. That dressmaker still had stars in his eyes, fingering the gown that was now on the table before him, when she left the shop already wearing one of her new dresses with the carrier on her back.

She slept warm and comfortably that night wrapped in her wool blankets.

And for many nights after, his voice would come, telling her all manner of things she should know and should do to live in the hut and survive in the forest: How to fix the cook stove so that she may prepare a fire, how to bank the coals with ashes so it would always give heat, how to repair the old well that fortunately still had fresh water, how to fix the broken doors and walls of the hut, how to forage for food, how to hunt small game animals… it went on and on.

Then one night she’d been dreaming of wine. She’d no idea why or how she even knew of wine. But in her dream, the sweet taste of it in her mouth and the warmth it spread in her belly made her happy.

{It’s not fermented fruit you need, Shi Qi. You need to start gathering fresh fruits and edible plants you can dry and store as food reserves for the winter.}

Oh, yes, that is something I must do! The fact that there was a man’s voice speaking clearly in her head at night never alarmed her. She was dreaming after all. Besides, the man’s voice seemed familiar somehow, in a comforting way. She didn’t question it. It was just nice to hear another person here in the silence of the mountain forests.

After building up her store of food, the man’s voice continued to return in her dreams. His words focused more and more on preparations for the upcoming winter. Having a sufficient store of wood she could burn till spring was something he was most adamant about.


She couldn’t feel her hands or feet anymore. At least the bitter cold had numbed the pain in her leg and her head as she hobbled her way back through the blowing snow.

Foolish! I should have made due with what I already had!

She’d decided that sunny morning to make one last wood collection. As she walked in the forest, she’d been daydreaming again about the man’s voice, something she’d started to do more and more as the weeks of hearing it in her dreams went by. Thus distracted, she hadn’t paid attention to the changing clouds above. By the time the chill wind had come on and she’d finally taken notice of the slate grey sky, it was too late. The few snowflakes that began to fall quickly became a streaming haze of white, coating the ground in a treacherous glaze.

Nonetheless, when she’d spotted a dead tree fallen over in a shallow ditch, she’d been thrilled. There were many good sized branches she could easily snap off to use. She just wanted to collect a few more branches to complete her bundle before heading back to the hut. But when her foot slipped on a snow greased rock on the edge of the ditch, she toppled in head first.


Something cold and wet was on her eyelids. Straining to open them, she saw only a white maelstrom. Her face was numb with cold.

She was sprawled shivering on her back at the bottom of the ditch. Raising her head which felt like it was weighed down by rocks, she could make out the edge of the ditch above her. She was covered in a thin layer of snow. How long have I lain here? she managed to think through the haze in her mind. It’s so cold… She went to sit up. Nausea overwhelmed her when a sharp pain pierced through her head. But it was the fire that erupted in her leg that jolted her out of her stupor. Wiping her face with stiffened hands, she squinted to focus her blurred vision. A red stain had soaked through then froze on the left side of her skirt. She cried out as she moved her left leg. Despite her snow-chilled face, her forehead was stinging in pain too. Reaching numb fingertips to it, she felt a large bump and crusted blood on it.

I have to get back to the hut. I’ll die here if I can’t get out.

I’ll never hear his voice again if I can’t get back.

She sat there dizzy, feeling the bile rising up her throat.

Help me…

But how could he? For only his voice came to her at night in her dreams.

Her tears did little to warm her cheeks, freezing like crystals in the wind instead. She managed to scream her way to standing, bracing most of her weight on her right leg. Grabbing a large branch, she used it to support her left side. With teeth chattering, she gripped exposed roots with her stiffened hands to pull herself up out of the ditch.

A bundle of sticks now lay snow covered and abandoned on the forest floor, as a tiny figure hobbled away through the trees.


His voice in her mind… {Go left! Turn at the boulder. Don’t stop! Don’t give up, Shi Qi!}

Was it night? She’d lost all sense of time. Why was his voice here now? Am I sleeping? I’m so tired.

When her hut at last came into view, she almost continued past, {No! No stop!! Get inside now! I know it hurts and you’re cold, but you need to get out of the storm!}

Hurts? It doesn’t hurt. I’m not even cold anymore. See, my shivering stopped.

She dragged herself up the steps on her hands and right knee, her left leg trailing behind her. The branch she’d been using for support long before dropped in the forest. She had no idea how she’d made it back. But with her very last ounce of strength she made it to her bed and collapsed onto it.

{Get those clothes off now! You’re going to freeze to death if you don’t!}

My clothes? What’s wrong with my clothes? I like them, they’re a simple colour that I like.

{Shi Qi. LISTEN to me. Take off your clothes or else you’ll die.}

She was getting groggier. Where am I? Who’s talking to me?

(…to be continued…)

Liking this story? You can read the completed work on Wattpad.

“A Warm Voice” by SunInTaurus was written for the Peach Blossom Dreams – Short Stories (18+) anthology of works. Read the entire collection of stories by various 3310 fanfiction writers over on Wattpad.

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