There was something magical in the way it snowed that night. Thick, fluffy white flakes slowly looped from the sky, swirling gently through the calm air. Illuminated by only the bright whiteness of the moon and dots of stars, the snowflakes fell easily and created lazy, haphazard patterns that sparkled against the clear glass panes of her slick bedroom window.
When she awoke the next morning, she gasped in awe at the sight in her yard. A snow-woman stood just to the left of the mailbox. It was the most beautiful, fascinating snow-woman that she had ever seen. Without a second thought for practical things like coats, gloves, shoes or her own heart, she threw open the front door and ran to the marvelous snow-woman. Breathless, she panted in front of her and blinked as airy tendrils of breath escaped her lips.
She was so beautiful, like no other snow-woman she had ever seen before. The only problem that she could foresee was that, like most snow-people, she was ice cold.
“I can warm you up,” she decided with a firm nod. She reached out and gently touched the snow-woman’s hard, frozen arm. “I’ll warm you up. You’ll never be cold again.”
She withdrew her hand, oblivious to the cold that seeped from the snow-woman into her after the brief touch. She reached out again, this time holding her hand over the snow-woman’s middle. She watched as a chunk of ice melted to water and dripped down her wrist.
She could feel the snow-woman’s eyes on her, and they were no longer the cold, hollow black that had watched her from outside – Daring her to try, silently challenging her to warm her and tempting her to do foolish things like run outside barefoot and coat-less in the fresh snow. There was something deeper in those dark eyes now, and she could feel it in her very core. Every movement, every flicker of emotion and each feeling that waved over the snow-woman was now shared with her. They were becoming one.
Beneath the layers of ice crystals and thick white snow, she could see a faint yellow glow from somewhere deep within the snow-woman’s frigid center. It flickered on like an old lightbulb, a few sparks of brightness here and there until it settled on a barely-visible glow. She bit her lip and watched as the soft yellow light grew stronger, heartier, warmer.
“This is it,” she murmured. “She’s warm and she’s mine. I made her warm. I helped her leave the cold behind and shed the ice, the snow and the layers of freeze. She’s warm for me and we’ll be warm together forever. No more ice, ever.”
She was so filled with happiness that she looked up at the face of the snow-woman, feeling herself drawn into the large, dark eyes. A thin smile ghosted across her frozen face and she knew in the very core of her being that it was something she hadn’t done very often before and it was only for her.
“I love you,” she whispered to the snow-woman. “I love you and it could be forever. Come inside with me. I’ll keep you warm until eternity.”
And, just like that, a cold blast rattled through the air and shook her from the inside out. Unnerved, she glanced back up at the snow-woman and blinked as she realized that the faint smile had disappeared.
“No,” she said to herself. She forced her hand further into the half-melted snow, only to discover her palm met rock-solid ice. “No,” she said again, louder this time. She watched helplessly as the warm, soft glow began to fade. “Don’t go away,” she cried out. She slapped her open palm against the ice, but it was too hard and too frozen and she was only one person by herself against the biting cold.
“No,” she cried again. Hot tears burned down her cheeks and she was sure they left angry red welts down her pale skin. “Don’t do this to me. Please, please don’t go.” An icy bitterness filled her chest as the yellow glow flickered completely and left the snow-woman lifeless and dark.
“Where did you go?” She shouted. She knew it was too late – The snow-woman was nothing more than a heap of ice, sleet and snow, and it was much too thick for her to penetrate.
“I tried,” she sobbed as she lifted her hand to her face. Her fingers were reddened by the cold and felt unfamiliar and icy against her hot forehead. “I tried to make you warm. My soul was open to you. Why wasn’t it enough to de-frost you?”
The bitterness tasted like poison on the back of her throat as she stared back at the blank snow-woman. She wished she had never been captivated by her beauty and had never glimpsed the warmth and humanity that she held somewhere deep within. If she hadn’t, it would have been easier to turn around, go back into the heated house and leave the empty snow-woman behind her.
“I wish I’d never even seen that small window of openness,” she spat angrily. “I wish you’d just been cold and hollow the entire time. You tricked me! You made me believe I could warm you. That my devotion was different! That, because my love was pure, I could be the one to break down all those layers of frost and ice that everyone before me put there!”
She stood bitterly, defeat burning through her veins and up her chest. The defeat was so thick that she was sure she was going to choke. Icy wet circles colored the knees of her jeans darker than the rest of the denim from where she’d knelt before the snow-woman in an effort to warm her. Her tongue felt wicked and sharp inside her mouth, a weapon on the defense quick to verbally cut something as deeply as she felt cut inside. But she couldn’t bring herself to walk away from the snow-woman yet, so her shoeless feet stayed planted to the ground even as her toes grew frozen.
She stared at the blank snow-woman before her, unable to stop her lip from trembling uncontrollably. She was desperate to find that glow and reignite the light that she knew she was capable of. “It’s not fair,” she whispered. Her vision grew gray and blurry from the large tears that clouded her eyes. They balanced precariously, poised and ready to fall, along her icy eyelashes. “It’s not fair,” she repeated. “Why did you have to go? Why isn’t love ever enough?”