I would like to begin by inviting you to join a free 5 day course focused on listening while being immersed in nature in order to see what we can learn about ourselves. The course was created by my friend Alice, a gifted writer and poet, and I’m excited to dive into her wisdom. Her course beautifully expands on the idea of connecting to oneself through the wonders of nature that I touched upon last Sunday. I hope you will join. A Sense for Summer-Free Course
In my neck of the woods, nature is giving us a taste of the sun, and we are under heat warnings. What does that mean? Well, it means that beads of sweat pour down the length of your body just by sitting under the shade of a tree on the grass, despite the hot wind, which kisses your hot skin. So, what does a writer do? She writes about ice.
In the following ice story, I echo the recent article exploring the idea that loneliness can serve us to awaken our innate wisdom. I gave my romantic heart free rein as I wrote, and I hope you enjoy this flash fiction. My sister calls my overly poetic writings (only she is allowed to read) “Reneeisms”, which she wisely suggests I edit out of my novels bound for publication. She hasn’t read this story, so I hope it doesn’t grow sap in her, or your eyes. Love you, sissy!
The ice moaned under her feet, and with each careful step, she listened to the call of the lake, for it spoke louder than the hollow drumming of isolation she was born into.
Her name was Kyle, a boy’s name, though no one ever mistook her for a boy, as her face was delicately pretty, her voice soft, and her way a feminine arc. Kyle’s gentle nature brought about a quiet, enveloping her in a hush, not unlike the clouds obscuring the peaks of the surrounding mountains. This quiet made her invisible to those with endless chattering and caring about who did this and who did that. Her obscurity allowed her to walk the ice unnoticed, even under a full moon swimming in a clear sky.
As the sun slid away, Kyle’s tender feet assuredly slid further away from the lights of town. She shivered and cinched her scarf in closer to her pink throat, but when she did, a snag under her layers of woven threads pulled against her neck. Once again, the silver chain to her empty locket caught itself in the wool. She set her lantern down on the ice with a clink and carefully unsnagged the chain, sacrificing the skin of her neck to the teeth of winter. When the locket pressed against her chest again and her scarf tightly re-wrapped, she resumed her gliding walk to the center of the lake, all the while considering her locket. It was a silver oval, etched with two intertwined flowers — a lover’s gift. Though no love gave her the locket. She had found it two summers ago on the forest floor.
Summer now seemed a dream from a world that never existed as the thick weight of ice continued to sing in haunting notes. It was as if someone had lured whales away from the sea to live underneath her feet. With each note, a moaning reverberated up the length of her body to the top of her head, yet it still did not fill her. And so, despite the stiff resistance of her multiple pants underneath her heavy skirt, she went to her knees and lowered her ear to the ice. She breathed slowly, pulling into her nostrils the fresh scent of cold mixed with her ever-present winter smell of cinnamon and fire smoke.
She listened to the stillness between her breaths. The lake always spoke to Kyle, speaking most clearly in the winter months when all others tucked themselves away with their families in warm glowing homes. It was within these months of blue and purple shades that the waters grew a surface just for her. She never forsook the surface and every evening would walk far from its edge to greet the lake’s heartbeat. The heart’s center pulsed too far out for anyone but Kyle, for Kyle’s own heart remained hovering with no place to settle, and this hovering grew her nerves to be impenetrable. She could either live on guard with steal nerves, or die. And for Kyle, death was not a choice. In fact, it was not even a thought that entered her mind. She moved through her days with no expectations for good or bad. She neither cried nor laughed. Years before memories were solid, a waterless ocean had swallowed her, leaving her spirit resting in a vacuum of no sound or touch, those impenetrable nerves both her mother and father of protection. Only the lake could wake her from this no-place, place.
Her cold ear pressed against cold ice founded her a home, and she sighed. She never flinched when the excitement trembled her spine from each moan of the ice that sang from the east to west and north to south, often converging exactly where she crouched. She stayed so very still, her knees drawing in the cold and her hands rigid as they began that slow freeze of flesh.
After many minutes, the ice song filled Kyle up and she lifted her head, her red ear tingling with heat to belie the freeze. She didn’t bother rubbing the heat away, rather enjoying the tingle, and instead gazed down past the hardened crust of water.
She startled. Her own image stared back up at her. But reflection it was not. The image floated in the waters, still liquid under the icy floor, and reached one hand to press up into the thick wall of ice. Kyle stood stock-still, her hands buried in old brown mittens, hanging like anchors by her side.
The water girl smiled and brought her other hand to her bare chest. Immediately, Kyle’s locket burned brightly, and her heart encased in a warmth never before felt. Kyle sucked in a breath of surprise, cocked her head to the side, and mimicked the water-girl by placing her hand on her chest. The water girl nodded and smiled. When the girl smiled, Kyle noticed the girl’s eyes were made of ice, her hair ribbons of moss, and her skin the color of water under the moon. It was in that moment Kyle knew the girl was the lake. A tear, pure as the sound of the lake’s quiet floor, fell down Kyle’s cheek, disappearing under her scarf.
A wolf’s far-off cry cut through the night just as the lake-girl touched her chest once more, then pointed to Kyle. Kyle reached under her scarf and her many shirts to draw out her locket. Before she opened it, she glanced down to the ice to assure herself that she was doing what the lake-girl wanted her to do, but the girl was gone. Kyle held no sadness. She knew before she saw.
The locket was no longer empty.
I hope you enjoyed this story. And as The Creator’s Compass is exclusively reader supported it helps so much to drop a comment or hit the little heart button if you are moved to do so!
Below is a link to a fantastic recording of ice singing, created by one of my favorite YouTube creators, Jonna Jinton:
Sending light and love for a peace-filled week,