**Contains mentions of abuse, death, and blood, which may be sensitive to some readers.**
The cold traced over her cheeks, freezing each breath she exhaled. Her frostbitten fingers clawed at her meager cloak, pulling it over her bony shoulders and malnourished ribs as she shivered. Every ounce of her being wanted to run back home and huddle by the warm hearth she left behind, letting all the tension in her bones melt away as the ice did in the spring sun. She wanted to throw off her worn boots which did little to protect her from the rabid cold that bit at her toes. She wanted to fall against the old couch in the small living room, letting her back bounce against the springs the thin cushions revealed, and watch as the dust circled in a halo around the golden glow of the fire. She wished for her mother, pulling her into an embrace by the dancing flames, telling her a story that made her eyes heavy until she slumped into those trusted arms. The arms that could do no wrong. The soft birdsong voice that warded off all of the bad in the world and replaced it with the good. The kindness that would save the girl from the ever-freezing winter that entrapped her. The warmth that was so painfully absent from her life.
She drew her hands closer, pulling the cloak further over her body, and felt a dull pain as an elbow connected with a rib. The girl winced and shook away the wishful thoughts, dreams that were now as real as every whimsical image manifested in the mind. “It’s not fair,” she whispered, the words feeling numb on her lips as she spoke them. She warded away the ghosts of flickering happiness and reminded herself of why she ran away. Why she tripped and stumbled through the dunes and waves of ice and snow to get away from that place. The home that could never bring together her family, that could never be a home, the father who would never love her, the mother now only alive in her dreams. To leave behind the pain, the fear, the helplessness of an animal hunted.
For a moment, the girl stopped to catch her breath, air scraping in her throat and lungs, legs shaking from exhaustion and shivering from cold. She looked around at where she was - a monochrome landscape of barren trees and seas of snow. Endless, thrashing, ever-growing, ever-changing seas of cold. The weakness made her head spin, and like a downed ship in the stretching ocean, she sank down slowly into the numbing frost.
There she sat, swaying feebly with every wind that blew, pulling her legs up to her chest and trying futilely to warm herself. Paralyzed she was by the cold and her own fear, a statue weathered by the hopeless tears that ran down her face, a spirit fragile as glass. The girl looked at the sky, bleak and cloudy. She watched as snowflakes fell and twirled in the torrents of wind, breezing feebly by as she felt she would do any moment. She was as fragile and small to the world as those pieces of ice were. A snowflake in a world of whipping winds that never seemed to grow gentle.
After long moments of rest, the girl stood once again, planting her feet against the storm, pulling her cloak over her head, feeling as though she would shatter. As though she were glass. She regained her wavering pace, unsure of where she was going, letting the tides of snow drag her through the forest, determining her path ahead. She stumbled and fell, crumpled and cried. Every step grew more cumbersome, each breath more suffocating, as though the sea of frost would drown her in its waves.
To the girl, all hope, or what small fragments remained, was gone, banished by the wind and snow. Each strong wind, every field of ice weathered away her strength further and further until she was lost. Lost in herself, in the maze that grew around her, in the sea of snow that grew more wild with every step she took.
The girl reached a hill and forced herself to walk along the steep and slipping incline of the slope. Her ankles ached and her legs withered with each and every step. With each crunch of the snow, the girl felt her boots’ grip ebb. Weakness tugged like a harness, pulling the girl back with each step up she took, making her stumble. And then she fell and rolled. Down, down, down, down. Into the frozen, wild sea of snow. Hoarsely, she screamed as she tumbled down the incline, heart beating fast, her arms, her legs, her head hitting the ground painfully.
And then she reached the bottom, face up, breathing in and out as she watched the snowflakes fall from the sky. Bruises quickly formed, a raw red color turning sickly purple and green. Not even the snow was enough to alleviate the burning pain. The girl felt the warmth of something sticky and liquid at her head and began to feel faint. Black blotches clouded her vision, and her eyes became glassy and heavy. For the first time, she smiled at the gray sky, spreading her arms and legs out on the glistening snow, creating tracks that formed the wings and gown of an angel. The girl was once a snowflake, falling under the will of the world. But now, as she let the falling snowflakes drift over her face and limbs, letting them drown her and embrace her in the cold, she knew she was meant to be up in the sky, floating, never falling, never bending to the world. She would finally feel the warmth, the love, the safety she craved. She would abandon the world that caused so much pain to her, the forces that kept pushing her down, the grief and fear. She knew she could finally rest calmly, without preparing herself for the next day.
With a staggering breath of relief, the girl bid the world goodbye.
She knew she was meant to be an angel.