“Beguile? What does that even mean Zelda? Can you stop already? I’m over this silly game.” Fitzgerald was on his last nerve, his lower lip turning a cool shade of purple, and trembling from the cold, his nearly frostbitten fingers stored productively between his thighs for warmth. For the last half hour, his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Zelda promptly read from an old, worn-out dictionary, finding words she considered interesting and rarely used.
“He'll beguile you with his famous smile, meaning to charm.” Zelda read calmly, her grapefruit coloured eyes scanning the definition. “To pull the wool over someone’s eyes.” She continued, disregarding Fitzgerald’s hopeless plea for mercy.
“If you could beguile a way for us to get out of this cursed place, that would be fantastic.” Fitzgerald spat, a minuscule lump of ice darting into the wintry air from his horse-sized teeth.
“That’s not really a proper way to use the word, but that’s fine and this isn’t my fault.” Zelda contested the accusation, finally looking up at Fitzgerald; a cold glance sending shivers down his already frigid spine.
“Okay, but I just did, so deal with it. How about you grab that magic wand of yours, and beguile the flat tire outside? Or maybe beguile this horrible cabin into an oversized hot tub.” Fitzgerald retorted sarcastically, nudging his stiffened neck towards a lonesome fishing rod sitting next to Zelda, its inactive hook dangling sharply somewhere at the bottom of the lake.
Oh Zelda, sweet darling of mine, cherub of bountiful meadows, my impossible-to-replace Queen, and also might I add subsequent apple of my increasingly watering eye. I have but just one, painfully miniscule request. I will be gentle in my delivery and hope that no such qualm will turn into a propulsion of disagreements, caused by such unsavoury words of mine. However, it’s quite simple and plain, and it goes a little something like this. Could you, for one moment, stop looking for fun words in the dictionary and help think of a way out of this frozen hell? Therefore in conclusion, I would like to go home now. Because I am cold, you see, and increasingly miserable, lost in this unspeakable cabin of hardship. Fitzgerald thought against unfolding his mind outright, but held his tongue to keep a semblance of peace.
Outside the claustrophobic cabin, a 1970 Alfa Romeo automobile rested unimpressively on a lob sided angle, bitter and chilled to the bone much like Fitzgerald, and unable to be of any good use, its front tire completely flat. Against better judgement, Fitzgerald decided to drive onto the lake around noon; a convenient idea, he thought foolishly, to save time and stay sheltered. How dangerous could it possibly be?
The slim cabin looked like a poorly constructed phone booth in the middle of nowhere, sitting purposefully on a desolate, frozen emerald lake. It belonged to Fitzgerald's neighbor Frankfurt, an old aristocrat type who agreed to let them use it on the one condition that Zelda make him a jar of apricot jam, a celebrated recipe perfected throughout the years by her mother Agatha.
In the far distance, an evening sun was beginning to fade, basking onto burnt, auburn mountains. Steep rock cliffs towered high above, edging towards and endless velvety sky, and thin birches and pine trees losing daylight to a fast-approaching, imminent dusk turning winter colors into a sleepless shade of night.
Why on earth would Frankfurt build a cabin in the middle of the lake? Fitzgerald thought. There must be a reason. Maybe that's where all the tasty fish swim during the winter.
Earlier that day, Fitzgerald stood by the frosted shore, and looked out into the expanse of the inland sea with Frankfurt by his side. "You see that matchstick in the middle of the lake?"
"Yes." Fitzgerald replied dubiously, his almond-shaped eyes squinting, searching for the thin wooden box. "That's the cabin." The old neighbor proclaimed cheerfully, his arm outstretched. "Terrific!" Fitzgerald returned with gusto, but nonetheless puzzled.
Or maybe Frankfurt is an adventurer at heart and the idea of a romantic cabin in the middle of nowhere is somehow life affirming. Who knows. Everyone has a secret. "Is it safe you think, to drive onto the frozen water with the Alfa Romeo?" Fitzgerald wondered out loud, blowing a hot breath into his already stiffened fingers. "Oh yes, it's quite safe my boy."
Inside the cabin, Fitzgerald finally unhinged one of his hands from the comfort of his thighs, burrowing into one of his pockets to grab his phone. He looked down at the useless thing, the battery completely dead; the screen darkened much like the cabin. No Internet. No service. No help.
Zelda had lost her phone earlier that morning, her notorious forgetfulness unable to locate its current whereabouts, probably hiding in a couch cushion, or inappropriately placed in a bathroom drawer next to a curling iron, buzzing without a care in the world.
“We have to do something!" Fitzgerald shouted passionately. "We’re going to freeze! And when they find us, we'll look like two stupid pieces of meat lost inside of a refrigerator. Maybe I should walk back to the cottage." It's not that far. A daunting thought, considering the biting cold. "Maybe there could be a spare jack lying around somewhere. There must be!” Fitzgerald was now losing it, his patience wearing thin, his calmness lost to a forgotten place where everything was still warm, and comfortable.
Zelda looked at her fragmented boyfriend with indifference, wondering where that strong hero could have possibly gone, the one she fell in love with a couple years back. She would have to be the sensible brain, the collected head in order to prevail, able to conjure up a solution to the unforeseen circumstance of a missing jack.
“Fitz just calm down, breathe for a second. We’re not going to die for Christ sake. Jasmine knows where we are. I told her before we left this afternoon so that’s something. And we’ve barely been stranded for an hour.” Zelda reassured a broken Fitzgerald, a cloud of cold breath escaping her plump lips.
“Don’t tell me to calm down Zelda. You always get mad at me when I do that to you, and you only do that because I fail to understand where you’re coming from, and that upsets you right? Well now you don’t understand how freaking cold I am. So do me a favor, and just stop before you say something you’ll regret.” Fitzgerald sharply reprimanded the love of his life.
“You’re right. I shouldn’t do that.” Zelda corrected herself, quickly realizing her fallible remark. She looked at Fitzgerald apologetically, slightly annoyed at her absentmindedness.
An uncomfortable silence hovered between the two lovers, the shadowy walls of the cabin pressing down tightly onto their shoulders like a coffin. At their feet, the shifting water inside the apple-pie shaped hole made an eerie whooshing sound, penetrating the void of the constricted space.
“You know I love you right Fitz? I think you’re wonderful, and we will find a way to fix this. I know it.” Zelda reassured her tempered boyfriend, knowing in her heart that this was all temporary. Her enchanting voice was soothing like a dazzling fireplace, her words much appreciated, Fitzgerald feeling warm again.
Fitzgerald sighed. “I love you too. I’m sorry.” He looked at Zelda with wonder, realizing how lucky he was to have such a beautiful woman in his life, how incredible and nurturing she was in that moment.
Suddenly, Fitzgerald’s honey-brown eyes lit up bright with a stark realization. He remembered the spare jack hidden underneath the driver seat, flickering inside his memory. He had used it a couple months back to help a stranded old woman, helpless by the side the road during a hypothermic night in December, and failed to return it to its rightful place inside the cluttered trunk, next to the spare tire.
“I’m an idiot Zelda. I'm so incredible stupid sometimes. I placed the jack underneath the driver's seat!" Fitzgerald spoke firmly knowing that this horrible cabin getaway would soon be coming to an end.
Zelda felt reassured that her scatterbrain habits were equally shared by her lover Fitzgerald, a misplaced phone for a jack was a fine trade, she thought.
“I think we should make love. What do you think about that?” Zelda suggested with a cheeky smile.
Fitzgerald looked at her surprised, and laughed. “I think that’s a fine proposition. No rush to leave the cabin right? I have to say, I'm pretty beguiled by the sudden change of events.”
"You're still not using that word properly." She remarked playfully.
Zelda stood up and approached Fitzgerald. She sat next to her frozen boyfriend, and embraced him tenderly, kissing his chilled lips.