“Frigid” by Catherine Rector | Short Story Winner

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

I threw my fist against the ice again, willing it to crack underneath my bloodied knuckles. How could anything be so thick? She was right there. I had to reach her. Then I could save her. I could tell her.

But the ice didn’t budge.

I screamed, falling to my elbows above her. She hadn’t moved in so long. Her lips were nearly violet. Her eyes, which had always been alight with life, were nothing but barren mirrors, reflecting my grief back at me.

I’d been a damned fool. I’d given her a trail of picked pockets to follow, daring her to come stop my petty crimes. She never could resist the lure. She’d chased me through the winter market, out onto the ice. I hadn’t known it was weak. The ice had given out from under her, and the river had pulled her down.

I pressed my hands against the ice, spreading my fingers out to match hers. Years of memories ran through my mind; her snide remarks, the lilt in her laugh, the battles I’d happily lost to her. She knew it, I think, that I’d pulled my punches. She’d reached for me as she fell into the frigid river, as if she trusted me to catch her. I’d tried to.

I’d never wanted this. Without her, there was no reason left to run. No reason left to be. Under my breath, I begged the ice to take me too.

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Words © 2018 Catherine Rector. Image © 2018 Kit Sora.

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