A crisp and biting cold seeped through the toes of her boots, which were steadily growing soggy. There was a definitive line of darker suede where the snow had melted into the fabric, and further into the multiple layers of socks she had worn. 

Her older sister had insisted upon the socks, and Beneatha had been too eager to escape the stuffed house to put up much of an argument. Not that she would have won had she decided to argue. 

The tips of her fingers were red and swollen from the cold, forgotten gloves stuffed in a coat pocket barely held together with thread meant for embroidery work. 

She huffed a breath in the air, what looked like steam curling from her mouth and dancing along the tips of her fingers, though the whorls did nothing to warm her. Despite that, she refused to go back inside and face the ridicule of her sister who had specifically told her this would happen, and that it was better to just stay inside in the warmth, and that she better not freeze to death because she would be held responsible and didn’t want to deal with the paperwork. 

Beneatha looked up at the falling snow, and immediately regretted it at the overwhelming bright flashing behind the clouds. Her vision was slightly spotted and distorted in color, turning splashes of the snow into translucent reds and greens, hints of chilled violet and dark blues. A strange ringing sound overtook the rustle of the trees, and her chilled nose became stuffy as she grew more and more disoriented. 

A flash of something caught her attention in her peripheral vision, and she jerked her head towards it involuntarily. Her muddled-ness had mostly faded by that point, and she shook her head to clear the last of it, thought the spots of color didn’t fade, as if they were an imprint on her eyes themselves. 

The flash came from somewhere near the bristling edge of the woods, whispers of forgotten secrets and suppressed ideas rustling the leaves. It was then she saw what had caused the flash. 

Halfway up the curled and knotted roots of a tree a little platform had been created, almost a shallow bowl filled with frozen dirt. A small flower had blossomed in the glacial temperatures, and it truly was a flower of the season.

A silver rose, the curling edges of each delicate petal crusted with flecks of frost and frozen flakes. The stem was a pale green, as if the vibrancy had been sapped by the cold air while the flower it held had flourished above it. 

As she reached it, the flower was at about waste height, and the sharp scent of crisp apples and burning pages tickled her nose. 

Beneatha tilted her head side to side, again and again, watching the way the petals reflected in the light like the face of a watch. Hesitantly, she reached out and grazed her rosy fingertips against the side of the rose. The petals felt as though they would crumble under the soft touch, swirling into nothing more that the flakes of snow that dusted the top.

A malevolent breeze blew past, and she shivered, snatching her fingers away and breathing on them in an attempt to return some semblance of heat to them. She would have to show her sister the rose, she’d absolutely adore it, and likely try to figure out how it  grew, and tell Beneatha a delightful story she’d come up with just a moment before.  

She began to make her way back to the cottage, and towards the warm fire she would likely spend the rest of the night huddled against. 

The toe of her boot caught on a rock hidden under the layers of snow and she went sprawling, snowflakes flew in the air around her, and snow shoveled it’s way into the cuffs of her sleeves and up her back, and she flinched, yelling slightly. 

She stood, brushing herself off, only to find there was no snow to be brushed off.

The chill remained, so frigid it burned, pressed against her skin in the most uncomfortable places, constantly shifting as she moved in search of the snow. She looked down towards her boots and the numbness spreading from her sodden socks, but the only thing she could see were the wet marks from earlier. 

She felt for her pocket, and noticed an emptiness from her gloves falling out in the tumble. 

Beneatha turned behind her, scanning the perfectly smooth surface of sparkling chill and spotting the navy blue gloves just right behind her, standing out. 

She reached out and grabbed them, everything silent but for the huffs of her breath in the air, leaving faint kisses of warmth on her cheeks that faded far too quickly. 

Having grabbed both gloves, she resolved to step in the footprints she’d already made. Her reasoning being: one, for a fun challenge, and two, to save the precious snow for later. She didn’t want to completely use it up all in one day, and who knew when it would snow again. 

Only when she faced back towards the cottage, she couldn’t find her footprints. There were none behind her, and there wasn’t even a disturbance where she had aggressively punched the ground with her entire body. There were footprints leading away from the house and along the edge of the wood from when she’d walked along it, and footprints leading up to the frozen silver rose. 

Then they stopped. 

How hadn’t she noticed?

But she had, hadn’t she. She just hadn’t realized what she was seeing. She’d said herself that her gloves were on perfectly smooth snow, Beneatha just hadn’t stopped to think of it, being more focused on the uncomfortable cold in her jacket that was still there. 

She took a step forward, staring at the ground and the silence as she walked. There was no crunch of snow, no sinking into the cold imprint she would leave behind.

There wasn’t even a whistling wind to tousle the escaped hairs on her head. 

Well that wasn’t necessarily something to be worried about. It didn’t make a noticable difference in her life. She could still move and breathe. Whatever this was wasn’t drastic. She was still Beneatha.

The snow she still couldn’t see was melting against her body, wet streaks slipping down her back and over her forearms, dampening the fabric and making her absolutely frozen solid when another strong breeze blew by. 

Her breaths came in slower and harder, the cold just spreading spreading spreading, muscles freezing in place, locking. The wind came back again, whipping her every which way, but it was a welcome heat, in fact it was so hot she began to sweat.

Or was that the melting snow she still couldn’t see?

A hot panic began to build in the base of her chest, spreading through her veins and into her mind as she was overrun with the sense that she didn’t know what to do. Seli. It was the only rational thought she could hold onto. Seli could help. Seli was always reading about fantasy and magic and strange occurrences. Seli would know what to do. 

But she couldn’t muster the strength to move, and that scared her more than anything. The rose had seemed fun and still did, the footprints had merely confused her, the cold she couldn’t find was just uncomfortable, but she couldn’t move.

She was no more than a ghost as lines of frost spread through her veins, hollowing them and boiling them and turning them inside out. Crystals and fractals spread on the rosy fingertips that had turned a garish purple.  

The body was made of mostly water, and each droplet of Beneatha’s body froze and unfroze over and over again, until finally it froze entirely. Her eyes were glassy, staring at an endless sky of flashes above her.

Ever so slowly, pieces of her began to flake away, snow blown off the top of a mountain in the wind, swirling and whorling towards that cursed frozen rose, until Beneatha vanished entirely. 

January 11, 2020 00:48

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