Title: The Other Mirror
Word Count: 886 words
Notes: Inspired by The Snow Queen
Inside the lodge it is dark and cold. Sadie’s breath frosts in the air as she looks around; there is no fire in the hearth, no candles to provide illumination. Everything is stillness and death and a queer blue light touching the whole room. She rubs her hands together and tries not to brush against anything, already knowing the cups are frozen to the counter and the inviting couches are nothing more than blocks of ice. A harsh wind blows outside, howling unhappiness to the world. She’d already tried the door, thinking the storm would be better than this eerie nothing, but the knob had stuck fast no matter how she twisted and pulled.
Now she stands lost and alone in the middle of the room. She wants to call out, wants to shatter the silence with her voice, stomp her feet and feel warm again, but her heart skips a beat and she doesn’t know why she feels so afraid.
She blinks; she is not alone after all. A young man perches on the edge of a chair, looking for all the world like he will rise and fly away at any moment, watching the window. There’s something, maybe the shape of his nose or the line of his shoulders, but Sadie feels like she’d known him, once upon a time. She shuffles over towards him, unsure of what her next move should be.
“You weren’t here before.” Her voice is laced with accusations and unspoken questions. This was no time for civility (she thinks, and another shiver takes her over.)
The man blinks. “I was, a long time ago.” He smiles at her, the expression wrinkling the pale scar by his left eye.
Sadie kneels on the cold floor by the man’s chair. “I know you.” She leans in, touching that scar. “I know this.”
“You should,” says the man. “You helped put it there.”
Sadie jerks away. “I never hurt you. I never hurt anyone.”
“No, you helped me.”
She closes her eyes, digging for the memories from another life. It comes back to her like an icy stab through the heart. “Kyle,” she gasps, clutching at her chest. “You’re Kyle.” He nods encouragingly, motioning for her to go on, dig deeper. Outside the winds howl their rage.
“You went missing when we were little, I remember now, you went missing and I went looking for you. God, Mom was furious about that; we were gone for months! But I did it, I found you.” Sadie squeezes her eyes shut, chasing the threads of her memory. “I had help, I remember, lots of people and when I found you were so cold and you couldn’t recognize me.” She clasps his hand, remembers kissing those fingers and willing them to be warm again. “But I made you cry and the glass fell out. You came back to me.”
Kyle nods, a look of relief washing across his face. “I’m here to return the favor.” He presses two fingers just to the side of Sadie’s right eye, making her wince at the pressure. She follows with her own hand, pressing hard against the rigid sliver beneath her skin.
Sadie licks her lip. “I have a piece of glass.” Kyle nods. “She’s after me now, that’s why I’m here.” She looks around at the frozen lodge again. “Only I’m somewhere else too, aren’t I?”
“Somewhere warm,” confirms Kyle.
Yes, she remembers now, the trip to the ski lodge, despite the storm warnings. There was supposed to be a whole group of them, all her friends, a last hurrah before college swept them away. Only she had been too angry and stubborn to cancel when everyone else did. “Kyle, how do I cry?”
He kisses her forehead, a spot of warmth in all the aching cold. “You have to remember for yourself, and soon.”
Outside the wind screams, outside something dark batters against the window. Inside Sadie finally opens her eyes.
Inside the ski lodge is warm and cozy, if crowded. People mill about with warm drinks in hand, propping their skis up on any stable surface, chattering about how sweet the powder will be come tomorrow. Sadie blinks down at the cup of hot cocoa in her hands. It’s still warm. Someone touches her shoulder and she nearly jumps.
“Hey,” says Clarence. “You okay?” and the rest comes to her, how Clarence was the only one who refused to cancel, had said something about not being able to leave her to get murdered in the mountains. She remembers the trip up, the two of them stuffed in his tiny civic and her sulking, still stung that her friends would be deterred so easily, sulking despite Clarence doing his best to cheer her up, even letting her listen to Taylor Swift the whole way.
A hot knot in the back of her throat, a sharp pain in her right eye, and a few tears leak out.
“Yeah,” Sadie manages. “Yeah, I’m going to be fine.”
This was originally written for Writer’s Weekly quarterly 24-hour contest. I did not win, but at least I can finally publish this piece to my site! Many thanks to Ceci Lovejoy for the amazing edit job and for sitting up with me nearly all night to get this thing finished.