He didn’t mind the cold. He had grown used to the state of slow suspended animation; in fact he enjoyed it, the contraction inwards, heat flowing to the centre of his being. On the surface, he was calm; he walked the silent corridors suspended as if in a trance. It was safer this way; he was invisible in the cold, hidden by the blizzard of her rage and anger.
What he hated was when the blizzard stopped, because then she saw him. Her hollow eyes flickered with recognition; her face began to thaw and crack into a caricature of a smile. He cringed but was careful not to let her see him flinch. He knew the outcome of these brief summer seasons and they were always bad.
She knew how to hold back the blizzard until the first snow drop of hope pushed its way through him, the blade of green, a symbol of potency and growth and sometime even a flower, small, white, delicate, bravely nodding as if acknowledging the vast frozen wastes of his life. Then, the crackling of ice forming at speed, her face re-freezing, and her eyes crevasses of blackness. She would blast the blade of green and snap freeze it.
It was always the green that offended her, as if he did it deliberately to spite her. Yet there was no malice in him, it was just who he was, young and hopeful. It was the potency of hope that tripped him up and added to his confusion. He always thought he had it wrong, or worse that something must be wrong with him. Everyone seemed to love her, she was called a gracious hostess; a gentle woman. It was like they spoke of another person entirely and this confused him.
So with the simple reasoning of a child, he figured it had to be him, something must be wrong with him but he couldn’t work out what. He walked the still corridors looking to see if he could find his fault hidden in the frozen walls. Perhaps there was sarcophagus, a secret vault that if uncovered would reveal the key. Yet the corridors held their reserve and silence. The sacred texts of his tribe enforced the belief he had to honour her otherwise he would be condemned. He remained perplexed and confused.
He tried to honour her; he bought her gifts, small gifts out of the pittance he was given if they remembered. It was the old classic of buying love but he was too young to understand love cannot be bought. He was old enough to know he was not loved for who he was; perhaps a gift given with love would be enough.
It wasn’t, nor was the work he did. Her rage made her voracious. Her cold, implacable, hard edged fury was exempt from the quality of mercy and forgiveness. He allowed himself to freeze. It was safer this way. Yet as cold and as deathly as his surface became deep down a volcano grew. He learnt to keep it capped with a frozen smile and ice control. He was trapped. Trapped in the perfect prison from which there was no escape, the prison of her blizzard and his freezing.
Her shrunken cadaver smiled, content her plan had worked, she had outlived the priest of God and had her revenge on the next generation. There was justice in life after all, you just had to play the long game and though he hadn’t seen her for a number of years now, she was at peace as she drew her final breath knowing he remained frozen in perplexity and unbelieving in the depth of her rage. She chuckled, coughed and died.
Even ice-ages do not last forever. Climate change occurs in many layers of reality and slowly the bars of his prison began to thaw. The heat of his inner volcano glowed red through the ice, he realised a new era was beginning and he needed to live in this new reality. Would he be able to adapt or like the woolly mammoth become a carcass frozen in-situ a relic of another time and place?
He joined other man-boys like himself, their eyes cloudy white or ice blue depending on how frozen they were. He learnt they were called the ice walkers, boys frozen, seeking the warmth of touch, wanting to be ‘unfrozen’ yet afraid of thawing. Boys seeking to replicate the same weather patterns they had experienced, longing again for the old blizzards that would keep them cold and unseen. He listened to their stories, their admiration for their queens, old vampiric bats who dissatisfied with their spouses fed on their young, who grew fat, voluptuous and sticky on the life force of their sons. He felt himself grow hot in disgust and the volcano within him surged. He grew alarmed at the heat not used to such intensity. It felt dangerous, untrustworthy. Ice coldness he could trust. The others picked up on his heat and becoming scared moved away from him. The cold do not like heat.
Leaving them he sought his own space, he enjoyed being by himself. Too much contact with other people was painful. The energy of other people jarred the ice flows in his soul and emotions. He needed time by himself. He knew too much time by himself was dangerous, he would become set in his ways, the freezing would be permanent. He required people as much as they pained him, but for now he needed to be by himself.
He sat and listened to the sound of his ice settling around him. As silence settled and the ice stilled he heard a slight movement behind him. Turning, he looked into the amber brown eyes of a wolf. Time contracted as they looked at each other, there was no space for fear, and neither was startled by the presence of the other. Both were survivors of the cold. The wolf pointed his nose skyward and howled as he listened to that ancient sound, he looked down and a tear formed, trickled down his cheek, followed by another.
He wept the tears he could not weep as a child. He wept for the snow drops that had not survived. He wept for the frozen child he had been. He wept as he had never wept. The song of the wolf and his weeping echoed and reverberated through space. In his grief he sang;
Salt tears on ice
May be continued: