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Teens & Young Adult Speculative

He had never seen snow, but he knew what it would be like. 

If he closed his eyes against the drab, grey sameness of the landscape about his house, and pushed back the stale, heavy air, suffocating under decades of use, he could see the world as it must once have been. He could see how the sky would roll up, puckering with soft heaps of cloud, gradually growing bulkier and larger. He could feel the cold, clear bite of wind on his cheeks, washing away the stagnant air he had breathed so long, imagine raising his arms and letting the wind rush over him, chilling him all over. He could imagine his body beating back against the wind, pumping harder, faster, warmer, could feel the raw energy tingling in every fiber. He could feel the anticipation hanging heavy in the air, feel the moment of the first snow drawing closer, closer. He knew the world felt it too, was reaching up to meet it, drawing closer to the grey clouds...

And then, the miracle.

One, timid flake would fall, tracing a burning line through the trembling air. Then another would follow, and another, and another, until they were slipping and sliding around each other in frosty profusion. They would spring from the sky, silent and fragile as the unfurling of a spring flower, bending down to touch the earth and nestle in its frozen heart. They would gather in faintly gleaming piles, casting back the hidden glow of the sun. There would be light, although the world was blanketed in cloud. There would be darkness, yet it would not be deep. It would be the essence of light, the shadow of dark, that would wrap the world and hold it tightly...

He knew, also, how the silence would sound. He knew silence - to the furthest reaches of the land about his house, there was nothing to break the stillness. Not a bird, not a dog, not a sound. It was the kind of silence that beats about the ears, echoing until it roars. A silence that inspires frequent glances over the shoulder, a silence that grows in the stomach until it is nauseating.

But he knew that snow brought a different silence. A silence that would relax and fold into him, like the folds of an old coat; the silence he remembered when his mother would pull him into her arms, wrapping around him, soothing him; the silence that would fall over the small, grey house the moment before his grandfather began to speak, to tell of things that had been forgotten, of things that no one else seen…

When he imagined snow, thought of it softly scraping against his jaw, thought of it turning to silver in the moonlight, it became irrevocably linked to his grandfather’s voice. He had never seen snow, but he knew how it must look because his grandfather had told him so. His grandfather still remembered an age before the world had gone to Sameness. An age when clouds splashed up in frothy waves, when trees bent and swayed in the wind, when the grass sprang up vibrant and fresh…

When his grandfather spoke, Sameness swayed and fell away. His mind swelled with the sounds and colors and life that once had been. He learned what it had been like to watch the sun rise in vivid banks of color, see the long blue shadows of a winter twilight, feel the wind on one’s face, bite into an apple’s tangy, sun-warmed flesh…

But the memory that he loved most was Sledding. 

On days that never seemed to begin, and never seemed to end, he remembered how he would curl up next to his grandfather, feeling the warm pressure of his arms, and be swept away into a world of flying snow and frosty air. He could feel the cold bite of the wind on his cheeks, see his breath foaming up in white clouds. He was trudging through the banks of dense snow, pulling hard on the sled behind him. He would feel himself growing short of breath as he struggled to the top, yet still push on, legs aching under the weight of the snow. The hill would loom over him, almost insurmountable, mocking his small efforts. But at last he would scramble over the last snowbank and he would be standing on top of the hill, looking out at a frozen world. 

And he would wait, gazing at a world that seemed to have fallen asleep. Everything was soft, muted, still. He would be the only one there, the only awake. And yet, he would not be alone. The world would not ignore him, as his current world did. It would reach up and grab him with its beauty, startle him into awe. It beat to his own pulse, matched his own rhythm. He would savor the moment, tasting it with his mind, trying never to let go…

And then he would give himself up the thrill of racing downhill.

He knew how it would be - he would fling himself flat on his sled, pushing off in the same moment. He would tip over the top of the hill, slow at first, then gradually faster and faster. The wind would be whipping through his hair, tearing at his throat. He would hardly be able to see against the sting of the wind and the flying snow, but he would know that the bottom was racing up to meet him.

Suddenly it would be over. He would hit a bump and sail into the air, his heart flip flopping inside of him as he flew. He would land in the burning snow, gasping with laughter, and then hurry up the hill to do it again…

****

He could not see what his grandfather had seen, could not feel what he had felt. But he lived in his grandfather’s world all the same. His grandfather’s world was dead, yet not gone. It lived in the rich vibrations of his grandfather’s voice, overwhelming his starved senses, shattering the walls of his insipid world. He did not know what it was like to sled - he had been sledding. His grandfather’s memories were stronger than his own reality; they flooded through his world and filled it with once had been. He existed in Sameness, but he lived in the past.

He had never seen snow, but he could feel what it would be. 

January 23, 2021 02:13

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2 comments

13:31 Jan 25, 2021

This has such an amazing poetic quality to it! It is a little heavy on the monologue parts, but that just adds to the character's inner development. In fact... would you mind if I saved this and maybe used it as an audition monologue (for high school, not an actual role)?

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Grace Larson
02:17 Jan 23, 2021

Hey y'all! This story does not quite follow the prompt, but I just couldn't resist the idea. I recently reread 'The Giver', and was kinda inspired to do my take on it:) Please let me what y'all think of this one as this story was a bit rushed - totally swamped by exams right now lol

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