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Burning Ice By: Rachel Choi

It was cold.

****************************************************

It was always cold.

I couldn’t feel the frigid, bitter wind that shrieked and howled as it flew by; the ice that cemented my body in place; the sun that reflected harshly off the pure, white snow and blinded me. Or my hands. These useless, incompetent hands numbed to the point where I wondered if they were even attached. Or rather if any part of me was.

I don't know.

I just know the cold.

I'm cold.

A faint cry sounded in the distance, a huddled, shivering bundle accompanying it. I was shocked, then exuberant. I hadn’t heard a human voice in… I didn’t even know how long. Coming up the mountain was a small figure, a boy of maybe five or six-years-old. My stomach dropped. This child couldn’t do anything for me, let alone himself. Yet the thought of not being alone anymore... was it sick that a sense of relief washed over me?

"M-m-mommy?"

A small, shaking voice, be it from the cold or fear pierced through the howling shrieks. He must have been wandering alone for a while; he had mistaken me as his mother. How young was his mother? Had I aged in my ice encasement?

“Mommy, p-please don’t b-be mad. I t-tried to c-come home but b-birdie and I-I was lost and-”

He started to wail. I watched the tears roll down his cheeks, which were red and splotchy from the harsh wind. He seemed genuinely confused as to why his mother wasn’t comforting him and cuddled up to me in hopes of regaining affections. I could only stare down at him, my useless hands unable to bring him closer or push him away. It was silent again, save for the occasional sniffles from the boy.

“T-tell me a story?”

I would’ve laughed if I could. Even if I could speak, I couldn’t remember a thing from my past life, let alone anything worth while to tell a story about. So I was surprised when the boy’s frail, small voice spoke again.

“Once upon a time there was a p-pretty princess named Eira. She l-lived in this biiiiig,”

he stretched his arms out as far as he could, sniffling all the while,

“castle with lots of maids and servants. She w-was very mean to them because she was rich and powerful. N-no one liked her very much and made fun of her behind her back. She didn’t tell anyone but s-she was very sad and lonely-”
“You useless, ungrateful brat!” she shrieked. “I knew the devil was in you from the moment those… those hateful black eyes opened when I held you for the first time. I should’ve dropped you straight into the fire. But of course, I have too big of a heart. Damn my benevolence. Damn this house. Damn you sick, sick child-”

She bemoaned on and on, relapsing into another one of her pity rants. I looked out the frost-bitten window and saw the familiar, lurking shadow of Father at the steps of the house. He opened the door and a frigid gust of winter air grappled its way into the room before the door shut, effectively blocking its screeching protest and pummels to be let in. I reached towards him to take the wet, snow-embellished coat from him.

“Hello, Father-”

A slap echoed across the room. I could already feel the vibrant, red handprint that marked my cheek, an angry, pulsing creature under my skin desperately wanting to escape. The metallic taste of blood blossomed across my tongue from where I had bit it; I straightened myself and looked up to see the murderous glint in his eyes.

“You have no right to speak to me,” he spat out, then trudged away mumbling, “worthless girl.”

The boy’s chatter had long faded from my focus. Was that… me? The boy’s story seemed to bring back past memories that I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to remember. I couldn’t tell if I should be enthused or morose. My life sounded so miserable. Terribly miserable. Yet I couldn’t help but continue listening.

“-and then they threw her out into the woods so that she would learn hu-hum,” he frowned, “Hoo-mill-tea?”

Humility, I answered silently.

“Eira! Eira!” they mocked. “Throw her out into the snow, they share the same name!”

I stared back evenly at them. Despite all of the angelic features they were blessed with, each and every one of their personalities resonated pure blackness. It was sad, really, that no one else could see the evil hiding behind those hatred-filled blue orbs, but understandable since they were all like that. Always acting high and mighty when they were all just power-hungry thieves. I turned to walk away only to be shoved back into place.

“Where do you think you’re going?” they jeered.

A chorus of laughter echoed amongst the mob of children that came to torment the mute, devil princess. The one whose parents didn’t even love her. Hands pushed and clawed at me.

“Look at those eyes! Teach her some humility!”

A chant roared and deafened me.

I'm falling,

falling. . .

falling.

“-the p-princess spent hours trying to make a fire until f-finally it went poof! and there was fire. She was so happy she leapt up and did a happy dance. L-like this,” the boy scrambled to his feet and did a little shake with his body. I might’ve smiled if I could. He quickly huddled back down next to me once he realized it was freezing. “She slept nice and warm that night, only to w-wake up and realize that the fire was on the trees. The whole forest was burning, big and bright-”

Fire.

A hungry beast devouring the castle walls that imprisoned me every day. A sense of liberation filled me; I didn’t even care that I had nowhere else to go. Orange and red hands licked the frost-bitten night, rising higher and higher, reaching for the moon and the stars that watched down in silent horror at the scene laid out before them.

It was so vibrant and beautiful, casting a bright, yellow glow on my face; billowing black smoke hung heavy in the air, concealing the dozens of burnt-out, lifeless matches haphazardly scattered at the site.

I extended my arms out to the flames and, for the first time, I felt warm. A small smile graced my lips.

I barely even heard the screams anymore.

I was burning.

I didn’t want to remember. I knew why I was here. I should’ve died here. Starving and delirious, I had stumbled higher and higher up the mountains, trudging up the perilous slopes until I couldn’t anymore. Maybe, I had thought, if the cold embraced me in the remainder of my life, I would forget that warmth, the scorching thrill that encased my body in malignant giddiness.

And it had.

With each passing year, all I came to know was the cold. The bitter, biting cold became a soothing constant in my life, the one never-changing variable that rooted me in place from the insanity I would have otherwise fallen into.

But now I was melting. Were those tears that fell from my eyes? Or were they just the empty droplets of the meaningless suffering I had endured?

I wanted to scream.

"Leave," I shouted at the poor boy, but the words never left my lips. "I don’t want to remember. I hate this, I hate you, I hate-"

They found him the following day.

A frozen boy curled up in a crevice in the mountains. His hand was outstretched as if he was grabbing something- a hand, perhaps? Yet there was nothing around him.

Just a small pool of water.

Picture Links:

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRpyO0-KNGpzhC6j3bKqxwXlOjm44hZppBsg3H0U5Cz4OI7oD3Gug

http://cdn.pcwallart.com/images/gradient-black-to-white-wallpaper-2.jpg

http://weclipart.com/gimg/874AF07DD38059C0/open-arms-hi.png

https://kpbs.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2015/06/05/14033159015_2df1ba9d62_z_t700.jpg?f40c0e74b997dbb01ce524758e0d04a31382c8af

http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/spotlight-image/TCFT.jpg

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRutcXA-46cJtnizDXHTj9rvfNQOt5XOTZdlfjngoyAUhZLllrk

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d1/00/ef/d100ef6b0405e6d13af77de8a86cac82--photo-lovers-shadows-fall.jpg

http://saimg-a.akamaihd.net/saatchi/843760/art/3008357/2078250-UNDFMTMX-7.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/01/ed/d3/01edd37cdf4400a23bac581fc9602f7d.jpg

Credits:

Created with images by Aaron Burden - "Snowflake macro" • marcus zymmer - "Dark clouds gathering over white mountains" • adrian - "Frozen world" • ulleo - "bubble soap bubble ball" • mdpai75 - "tears" • Jorge Guillen - "Icicles on a Twig" • martin_emes - "Frosted Window" • paul morris - "Radiant yellow and red flower" • chuttersnap - "untitled image" • Simon Moog - "Bonfire" • Mondisso - "open fire flame heat" • .reid. - "fire" • Abby Castrillo - "Black and white moon" • JanetR3 - "Silent Fall" • Katie Doherty - "Ice crystal contrasting dark soil" • PublicDomainPictures - "splashing splash aqua" • Dino Reichmuth - "Snow capped mountain in the sky" • Bea Sz. - "untitled image"

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