I hear you out there, Jack. Stalking, each step squeaking in fresh snow. Every time you stop to touch something, I hear the tinkle of a thousand tiny crystal chandeliers. And you’re so damn possessive, placing your hands on every naked branch, every plant that’s slugged it out through fall into winter.
You say you just want to love me, ask why I won’t come out to meet you anymore, leave your ice flowers in my yard. Your first bouquet was a fragile miracle, milky spirals dotting frosted fields, glistening in the golden light of dawn. Your blooms have all kinds of fanciful names: ice flowers, frost flowers, frost ribbons, rabbit ice.
But then I discovered how you make them, freezing the moisture inside tender young plants until their stems split open, thin “petals” of ice pushing through the cracks, curling like pencil shavings as they burst into the world. Delicate, ruinous things.
Living plants would produce more flowers, but you only see beauty in the singular and the strange. And you think every beautiful thing requires a sacrifice.
What you’ll never understand is how beautiful things already were. My husband and I came out almost every day to see you. We’d spend hours with you, our breath puffing in clouds as we walked through forests adorned with your dazzling lace. We skated over the lake by our house, admiring how the sun glinted off your frozen handiwork. Despite cheeks stinging with cold, we loved being in your world so much we gladly came back for more.
This wasn’t good enough for you. No matter how much we cherished you, you always wanted more. Of me. Without my husband, who trusted you, relied on you to carry us across the lake.
The police marveled at how cleanly the crack formed, how straight the line was between thick and thin ice. How very sorry they were for my loss. How fortunate I was to have survived.
Fortune, it seems, is a glittering tyrant.
Every winter you have the audacity to return. Every winter you creep around my house, touching this and that, coating everything with your frigid crust, creating your fatal little flowers.
But you’ve felt it, haven’t you? That gradual change delaying your return each year, weakening your hold. Chasing you away so soon. That unnerving sense of warming? It’s real. Your cruel bouquets are wilting, blooms slumping in the fields. And if I could, I’d gladly wait a thousand years to crush your final ice flower in my fist.