Rachel shivered as she came out onto the balcony, tightening her thin cardigan around herself. She stared out the wide expanse of pure white, squinting because the whiteness of the snow burned her eyes. The sounds of scraping from the woods were the only thing that shattered this crystal moment. Everything was still, crystallized in ice and snow. Perfect.
The branches on the trees were so excellently coated in a thin, crackly layer of snow, that it looked like a person delicately painted each twig, each branch.
Nothing living moved, but the sounds of thudding and shifting soil continued in the forest. Rachel automatically pulled out her phone, her habit, like Kyle's automated reach for a cigarette, or Dora's unwrapping of sweets.
Just when she needed it, the one actual moment of no importance she had, and suddenly the thing refused to work. Otherwise, it was beaming distractions into her mind every second, pulsing with notifications or pulling her away from choices she had to make or work she had to finish.
Now it was dead, lifeless and dark, useless when she had needed it to call 911. Not that it would have mattered, there wasn't cell service here, or electricity, or even internet access.
Everything here was cold and empty, as she was her right now. Her mind spun, connecting this moment to the infinite moments that had brought her here.
Was it her parents' history of abuse and divorce? That time Mike Lonsdale jokingly asked her to the dance or the time the only person she had dared to care about dying? Was it choosing the only life she had available to her the sin?
She didn't know anymore, and she shuddered, pushing her stinging fingertips further into the pockets. It was odd knowing what she had to do, never before in her life had it been so easy. Never before had the decision been so obvious.
This time, Kyle didn't even have to tell her or be her moral crutch. For so long, she used him to console her conscience, telling herself that she was a good person, and Kyle the darkness that forced her hand.
The snow positively gleamed at her, it's smooth, undisturbed surface an ideal platform for her rough perturbed and shaken thoughts. Thoughts that quavered and spilt, casting a shadow in the dark cabin.
A lifetime ago, her sister had come here for her honeymoon, back when this place had been alive with fairy lights and the love of a newly married couple.
Rachel's life spilt, as it always did, and darkened Sara's. In one moment, everything ended. Any chance of redemption for Rachel, any life for Sara, any happiness the two of them might have experienced together was obliterated.
Rachel heard the scraping stop, and she turned to the small patio table Kyle had dragged out for her. In a black box lined with red leather lay a shining grey pistol, utterly insignificant, and yet the cruellest thing ever made.
It was cold but not as cold as the disapproving snow. Not as cold as the brilliant white all around her, the goodness recoiling from her shadow. The gun was just merciless, uncaring, a tool of death and nothing more.
She took it and entered the forest, calmly and dreamily entering the clearing.
Kyle stood there, a pointed rifle in his hand, watching over Edward Reed.
Edward was sniffling, his face both red and blue, swollen fingers curled around an ice-frosted shovel. "Please.." He pleaded, looking right at her, his lips trembling.
Rachel ignored him, choosing to stare at the grave. "You think that's deep enough, Kyle?" Edward sobbed, but Kyle raised an eyebrow.
"Just about, I'd say," He said, voice gruff from the cold.
"Please!" Edward begged, his whole body shaking. "It was just-"
Rachel fixed him with her eyes, staring into the watery eyes of the man that had killed her sister. Her sweet, vicious, petty, beautiful sister. More daughter to her than a sibling.
She could see the scene now, her sister dressed in the same white cardigan she now wore, seated in the drawing-room, warmed by a fire and the man she loved.
Then Edward Reed entered with a gun and killed both of them and the life that they were going to have.
There wasn't a choice here, nothing to decide. She wanted to make this man suffer, plain and simple. She wanted to sacrifice him, take a life for a life. Edward Reed had children, but Rachel felt nothing for them. To feed those children, he had killed her sister. And it didn't matter if it was just a job, or there were orders.
The blood in her veins turned cold, and she said, "Get in the grave,"
"No, no, please! Please, Jesus, I swear I-"
Rachel got into a stance, pointing the gun right at him. "Make me say it again, please."
Edward's frozen fingers released the shovel and he sluggishly climbed into the grave he had dug, shaking. "Please, I swear, I swear I'm different! I got children, please!"
Rachel pulled the trigger, her fingers never having more ease in firing as she did now. She didn't feel the load or difficulty, just watched the red stain explode over his stomach.
Drops of blood spilled onto the snow, staining it a deep red.
Edward reeled, swearing and screaming. He collapsed into the grave and continued shouting, but Kyle picked up the shovel and began filling the grave back in.
Edward's voice was garbled with blood and screams, and Kyle continued ruthlessly filling in the grave, muddied snow, ice, and layers of soil drowning Edward.
Rachel finally moved out of her tense stance, hoping Edward would be alive enough to suffer the unique agony she wanted for him.
As Kyle filled in the grave, she pushed snow into it with her hands, her fingers turning painful and swollen as she pushed more and more snow in.
Finally, she couldn't feel her hands or get herself to move, that's how numb and cold she was. So she stopped, allowing Kyle to fill in the remainder, choosing to sit and stare as the last of Edward's sounds was dampened.
Kyle lit a cigarette and eagerly inhaled, leaning his head back as he did.
Neither of them said anything, standing and sitting around the one scar on the pristine coat of snow.
Once more, Rachel felt her mind go blank. It was as undefined and unmarked as the snow, bereft of thoughts or revenge.
The simmering rage that sustained her had crystallized into a sharp knife of ice, nestled comfortably in her heart, turning her blood to ice.
Each breath hurt, each movement ached, and she gradually became a part of the plain whiteness of the snow. Just cold and empty of life.