I knew it. I knew it as my nose slipped out of the covers, calling me to roll out of bed and reach for the curtains. The bedroom window overlooks a cobblestone fire pit and the threshold of a wispy forest pervading my backyard. I’m standing on the warm side of the glass, but I feel my body begin to numb. The room dissolves behind me. Then, it’s just the wind. The wind, the feathers. Clean, white feathers diving down into cloudy pools that grow, magnetically. I can’t believe it’s snowing, sticking everywhere, like popped, powdery, bleach bubble gum. I blink to take it in, sharper, but my hot morning breath is fogging up the scene.
“Where’s my robe?”
I pleadingly glance at my dogs, who are stretching comfortably on the carpet at my feet. Oh, here it is.
“And my slippers?”
One of them looks guilty, avoiding eye-contact with me as I finish sipping on the word “slippers”. She likes to chew the puffy ones, a set of twin dragons, or maybe they’re supposed to be dinosaurs. I’ve had to sew an eye back together, at least three times now. It’s always the same one she goes for. The left twin’s right eye.
Instead of looking for the slippers, I grab my pinchy, rubber rain boots that have been supporting dust colonies in the corner of the laundry room for the past 10 months. Today, I get to crunch through the snow like it’s a slippery popcorn pit. It’s so warm here, snow never gets to be that perfect, flour-y consistency like the kind up on the mountain. It seduces as it shoots down, like quartzy spearheads being thrown from the heavens. Here in the valley, it lands heavy, packing into a cold, burning slush that drenches everything.
If I move quickly, I might be able to get to the snow before the rising sun suffocates it. I just need my hat. I usually keep it on a hook hanging from the door. It isn’t there.
As suspected, it had fallen onto the floor behind the armchair. A “popcorn stitch”. That’s what my friend’s mom called the pattern on the hat. She would know. She knitted it for me in exchange for a filled-in, sentimental, but fragmentary, puzzle. I traced around the negative spaces, hand-cut them, painted them to account for the missing imagery and sealed the whole thing in Mod Podge. From a few feet away, you couldn’t even tell some of the pieces were counterfeit. And now I have this crooked, crushed-velvet popcorn hat to show for it. It’s the only beanie I’ll wear.
The wind cracks through the crease of the back door. I’m not sure I’m ready to leave my heated box, but the snow out there is enchanting. A gust smacks at me, sucking me from the doorway. I step onto the covered porch. Ivory dusted boards stretch long against the line of the exterior wall, but only out about two feet. Just past that, a whitewashed kingdom. My heel curls at the steps. Time hastens, accelerating, like the dissipating mystery of stepping out, faithfully, through shifty frozen sand that’s expected to break like air... It doesn’t.
It doesn’t break like air. It doesn’t break. It chops and slips. The sun has already broiled this patch of the yard. Further back, the thin forest is low-lit in a shadowy blue. That’s my shot. The snow there looks softer, unkissed by the melting light. I slosh my way through, perhaps, 8 inches, then 9, then nearly a foot. The trees bend over me, almost naked, skinny. I wander between their bodies as they stand and slump, unashamed. The snow floats about each branch like a silken shaw, delicate, ornamenting the edge of a shoulder, even a fingertip.
This is it. I can feel the laden slush shifting into weightlessness. Just a bit further...
I spin, letting myself tip backward into the succoring, loose microseeds of Winter. A snow angel is just the thing to properly break in the moment. I can hardly feel the cold wafting off the perfect, pearly snow. Only my neck and hands are left without a barrier.
Crunk... I feel an echo shake throughout the network of deep snow.
Nearby, a small pool of water appears frozen, glowing dim like an opaque mirror. It couldn’t possibly be cold enough to solidify the surface of an entire pond. Could it? Below the shedded treetops is a continual shade, but the dip below freezing temperatures began just a few days ago...
Pitter. I double-tap my finger on the edge. It seems pretty set, like I’m tapping against stone.
I imagine myself walking across, stepping and sliding and slipping… Feeling alive. Would that be deranged? Maybe. Can you ice-skate in rain boots? No way. It’s crazy. It’s crazy just like the dream I had when I was 10 years old. I wanted to be a figure-skater, even though I only visited the ice rink once. I wanted to feel limitless. To pirouette, effortlessly. Stroking about. Floating. Wrapping my arms in. Accelerating. Closing my eyes. Disappearing. Just me and the crisp smell of the ice, the nostalgia of Winter…
A thick branch is sticking out from a snowy plateau. I snatch it and sling it toward the center of the pond. A muffled dup dap rings out. It sounds solid. That branch wasn’t very heavy though. Maybe there is a r….
I see a large, mossy boulder peeping out of the snow on the far edge of the pond. Surely, if the ice can withstand the weight of the rock…
It wouldn’t be fair(or even possible) to throw it. So, I roll it out onto the rim.
So far, so good.
I give it a powerful push...and it slides right into the branch near the center of the pond. I hold my breath, listening for any crackles coming from the ice.
I feel uncertain. But, some of the greatest revelations in life come from moments of uncertainty. This may be the only opportunity I’ll ever have... I know, it’s crazy.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Written by Admirer Cyan
Prompt: “Start your story with someone looking out at the snow, and end it with them stepping tentatively onto a frozen surface” -Reedsy