Fiction Romance Sad

Chester pressed his thumb and index finger to each other, noting the dull, waxy ache as they changed from rosy pink to a sickening yellow. He breathed in sharply, the frigid air slicing at his nostrils and delivering a shock to his lungs that sent his core into overdrive. A deep, involuntary trembling started up like a little go-kart engine deep inside him somewhere, desperately trying to generate a bit more heat.

He reached up and pulled the beanie he wore down over his eyebrows and buried his face in the blanket he had wrapped around his knees, burrowing his arms into the cocoon and pulling his shins in closer. He sat there on his couch, staring off to the side where intricate, beautiful ice patterns fractured across his window refracting the harsh winter sunlight as it flooded his home, reflecting off every snow-covered surface in his yard.

The power had been out since the night before and he was seriously considering burning furniture for warmth. Every inch of exposed skin stung, he was worried about his eyelids freezing shut, and there was an increasingly serious threat of his teeth chattering their way out of his gums.

His heart jumped as someone pounded eagerly on his door. Who in their right mind would be out in this weather? he wondered to himself. He stared at the front door and waited, thinking perhaps it was a fluke or his imagination or...

He jumped again, somehow caught off guard a second time by the loud knocking. He sighed and felt every stiff joint in his body groan as he unfolded himself, icy air washing over the warm spots he had managed to generate in his blanket wrap, wafting into the space between his clothes and his flesh, biting and gnawing at his prickly, bumpy skin. He kept the blanket draped over his shoulders and shuffled over to the door without the slightest clue as to what he would see when he opened it.

Before he even had it opened an inch a familiar voice cried out, "Chester!" and the door flew open, nearly dragging him outside attached to the doorknob.

He smiled. "You're crazy, you know that?" he said. "Come inside."

Charlotte, his neighbor and best friend quickly shut herself in with him, pulling the door closed with snowflakes swirling in behind her.

"My goodness," she said, shivering. "Somehow I think your house might be colder than mine." She held up a large thermos. "Let's fix that!"

Chester's eyes widened and his smile broadened. He took the thermos from her and unscrewed the lid, holding the lip close to his face and breathing in deeply. The chocolaty steam filled his lungs, caressing his cheeks and bringing tears to his eyes. "Thank you," he sighed.

She laughed and rushed to his kitchen to grab mugs. He loved that she knew her way around his kitchen. Before long they were sitting hip to hip on his couch clasping their hands around hot mugs with the blanket wrapped around them.

"How?" he asked finally.

"I have an old camp stove that runs off propane." She smiled and breathed in the hot air rising from the rich brown treat.

Without warning the walls began to vibrate while the ground rumbled. They waited silently for the tremor to stop. After a moment Chester let his chest relax, blowing out a rush of air. "Makes me nervous," he said.

"You're not kidding," Charlotte whispered, looking around at the ceiling as though she could see through it.

Neither of them wanted to dwell on the source of the shaking though and the subject was quickly changed. Once the hot chocolate was gone though the warmth and weight of the liquid in their bellies left their eyelids feeling heavy and they snuggled into each other.

"I think," Charlotte began, "I should stay the night here with you tonight." She wriggled her body against his, scooting closer. "For the warmth," she added.

He smiled. "Yeah," he agreed. "For the warmth."

She moved the arm closest to him and suddenly Chester yelped and jumped. She'd snaked her cold fingers onto the small of his back under his pants. He writhed and twisted but she kept them there, laughing.

"I need the warmth!" she cried, stretching to maintain contact.

He turned and tackled her into the couch, grabbing her face with his icy fingers as she squealed and reached her other hand under his shirt. He relaxed onto her, letting his body drape over hers along with their shared blanket. Her cold hands rubbed up and down his back under his shirt, chilling him and warming him at the same time.

After a while she let out a sigh. "This sucks," she lamented. "I was looking forward to the fireworks shows."

Chester laughed at the irony. "We still got the 'rockets red glare' and even 'the bombs bursting in air' though. I don't see why you're so disappointed."

She let out a stressed giggle. "Not the fourth of July I was hoping for though." The movement of her hands continued, slowly becoming more sensual by the minute. "The power probably isn't coming back on... ever," she pondered aloud.

"Yeah," Chester agreed. "We're all dead anyway."

"You don't think the potassium pills will help?" Charlotte asked.

The whole world trembled all around them again, silencing their minds. "It's not the radiation I'm worried about," he said, lifting his face to gaze into her eyes. "You do realize those aren't earthquakes, right?"

"Of course," she mumbled, searching his eyes. "It won't be long now." She pulled a hand out and brought it to his face, gently touching his chapped cheek. She lifted her head and brushed her lips softly against his, their hot breath barely warding off the frigid air for just one moment as the ground began to rumble more intensely and the sky around his house ignited. A violent shockwave shattered reality, splintering trees, decimating buildings, and liquifying the ground.

In an instant it was all over and nothing remained but the cold.

December 02, 2023 03:22

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Belladona Vulpa
18:20 Dec 10, 2023

Great descriptions. There is also a nice flow to the story. The entrance of Charlotte with hot chocolate brought a heartwarming touch to the chilling scene. Super relatable to look for warmth in the other person (a girl thing I guess?). It was a bit funny and romantic moment. The unexpected twist at the end, with the ominous events unfolding, added a gripping layer. The mix of warmth and impending doom created a powerful contrast. And after everything, the cold still remained. An enjoyable read, great job!


Brian Haddad
22:53 Dec 10, 2023

Oh wow! Thank you so much for the nice review! I loved that. I just appreciate you reading it!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Joe Smallwood
21:58 Dec 09, 2023

Very descriptive, lots of interesting word choices. Thanks.


Brian Haddad
17:52 Dec 10, 2023

Thanks! I appreciate the input! Words are a lot of fun to play with, but not every "interesting" word choice is the right one! lol I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Alice Brooks
18:33 Dec 09, 2023

This left me wondering so many things, but it was intriguing and beautifully written the whole way through.


Brian Haddad
17:51 Dec 10, 2023

Thank you! I sometimes worry about being too vague but I also want to make sure I leave my readers with some questions and things to ponder. It's a tough balance that I'm still working on getting right! I appreciate the feedback!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
J. D. Lair
02:41 Dec 14, 2023

Vivid descriptions and good flow with relatable characters. I wish it built up a little more before their ultimate demise, but I’m glad they at least had each other before the end. :) “In an instant it was all over and nothing remained but the cold.” Solid ending line.


Brian Haddad
07:13 Dec 14, 2023

Thank you! Yes, I wish I had spent a little more time with the characters before ending it as well. I appreciate the feedback!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.