Avoiding an Avalanche By: Aimee

Far north a swirling ice storm battered relentlessly against the unfortunate little town in the very middle of the swirling iceland. The wind whipped through the air intent on taking down the glaciers that had protected the town for decades. The glaciers towered high above like skyscrapers in a city and the ice molded together to form a little valley shaped like a little bowl. There was only one way in and one way out, protected by guards stationed there at all times.

The average temperature in the bowl was 30 degrees a large difference compared to the blinding white world outside that was an average of 5 degrees fahrenheit. There were rumors warning of the dangers of the land. One wrong step and you could drop under where just below the surf ace of the ice was a ruthless current of water. It could trap you under in a second, dragging you below the ice in the alarmingly cold water.

For Jasmine and her community they all knew the very real dangers of the land that surrounded their home. From generation to generation they passed on stories of close family that were changed to just a memory swept away by the current. Jasmine herself had heard it countless times. Living her whole life in the ice land she had learned many tricks to battle the wrath of the ice. Fingering the small snow picks she carried with her everywhere she cautiously walked along looking for fresh prints in the snow. The ice groaned overhead as a huge gust of wind blew, almost knocking Jasmine to the ground. Having grown used to the rough terrain she ran towards the open ice.

Even as a kid she was warned of the dangers of the ice in that area. Especially if the ice was thin. She also knew this was the one place that was safest if there was an avalanche. Judging from the strength of the wind and the snow blowing in her face that was a very real possibility. Looking behind her as she ran she could make out tiny figure running towards her in the distance. She looked above the figures to see a huge cloud of snow and ice hurtling towards the ground. The ground rumbled as a deafening roar filled her ears. She could do nothing but watch in horror as the snow came down hard blanketing everything in white.

She lay down and put her hands over her head until the snow finally settled. However an image was cemented in her brain on an endless repeat, a broken record that continuously rewinded and started anew. There was a bitterness in the air, the sour tang of destruction. The last thing Jasmine saw before the snow blanketed everything was the snow heading straight towards her bowl shaped home. This had happened only one time before Jasmine was born.

Huge ice beams jutted towards the sky creating a giant wall that filtered out the wind and the snow. On that one day the wind blew furiously as it swirled the snow in flurries all over the place. Those who experienced it would swear they heard a groaning sound. Normally they would block the entrance with huge boulders when a giant storm was coming but on that day the people who had been on guard went missing. No one was there to block the entrance and the snow streamed in. Jasmine remembered the tales they told afterwards. She remembered being tucked into her soft downy bed in their little igloo as her mother told the story of how they had been wet and miserably cold for weeks afterward. The missing guards had been lost in the storm and found a little cave to wait out the storm. Everyone was alright that day but their homes were ruined.

Jasmine couldn't let that happen to them. She had to find the others so they could clear out their home. The snow had to be gone before it froze solid and ruined everything as it did before. Getting up from her spot on the ground where she had dug a little ditch she cautiously looked around. Snow everywhere in all directions at least 3 feet deep. Jasmine tried taking a step in the direction of her home. Her feet sunk into the snow as she made another awkward step. Her feet sunk below and for a second she couldn't feel the ground. It wasn't there. She flailed her arms as the snow brought her down. She looked below her to see a small gap in the ice. A tiny crack that was quickly widening as her feet touched it. Below the transparent ice Jasmine could see the current moving. She cautiously moved one foot forward towards the edge of the hole she had made in the snow. One hand reached up and found purchase in the hard compact snow. Just one more step she thought. At that moment as she lifted up her foot she wobbled and slipped. Her foot fell out form below her and she clung by her arms alone. There were no more cracks anymore, just a big yawning hole ready to swallow her up. The ocean looked up at her greedily as it waited for Jasmine to fall so that it could sweep her up with its current. The wind beat at her fingers trying desperately to loosen the only tie to the earth that kept the delicate balance between life and death.

Taking a deep breath Jasmine cautiously let go of her grip with one hand. Gritting her teeth against the strain she dug into her pocket for her snow picks. Using them she was able to grip the hard ground easily and clambered up onto the solid ground of the snow. She recalled the tiny figures in the distance. What if it was her parents who had been buried beneath that huge mound of snow? Or even anyone from her small community that she loved with all her heart. Jasmine couldn't even bear to think these thoughts. They had to have made it to the ice or even the cave if they didn't have time.

Barely holding back her tears she hoisted herself up and settled for crawling over the snow so as to not sink through. It was a long process giving Jasmine plenty of time to think. It reminded here of that time when she was young and seen the breath of the land and its animals. Her parents were busy tending to Sam her best friend. He had developed an overnight cold and 1 month later he still wasn't better. With no one watching her Jasmine had wandered out. At 5 years old she had been small enough to easily sneak by the guards when they weren't looking.

I marveled at the beauty of the snow as I huddled in my jacket. With all the layers I had on the only way I could move was if I waddled around. I constantly checked behind me to make sure the guards hadn't seen me. I found a rock that was above the ground by around 5 feet so I clambered up and lay there trying to catch my breath. Squinting against the early morning sun I had looked around in wonder at the beautiful gleaming snow that surrounded everything. In the distance I had seen a polar bear silhouetted in the pale morning sky. It was that moment of beauty that had stuck with Jasmine even as she was pulled away by the guards. Now, even when she was surrounded by the beauty of the snow all she could think of was the destruction. Just like when she had seen the polar bear, a ferocious predator all she had seen was beauty.

As time went on it started to blur together into the meaningless rhythm of her arms thumping onto the snow as she pulled herself forward. Several times she had to pause to catch her breath. Finally she reached the mouth of the cave which of course was sealed with small boulders. It wasn't a perfect wall and there were gaps everywhere but it should hold well enough to keep the biting wind partly at bay.

Crawling through a small hole she had discovered her community huddled against the wall. As soon as her parents saw her they sprang up and sprinted toward her. They collided in an awkward embrace. "We thought we lost you" her mother whispered. "When you weren't with the rest of us we thought you were left behind." her father continued. She gave a watery smile and sniffled. "Are we going home?" Her mother smiled and nodded. They gathered with the rest of the community and started the trek home.

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