Title: Winter Storm
Word Count: 879
Notes: This is an alternative draft for another piece, The Other Mirror which I thought would be fun to share, to see how things could have been.
Outside a winter storm raged; shrieking winds, black sky, ice and snow sleeting from the heavens in a classic display of ill-tempered weather gods. Inside, however, the ski lodge was warm and cozy, if a little over crowded. People milled about with warm drinks in hand, skis propped up on any stable and still surface, chattering about how sweet the powder will be come tomorrow.
A man with a walrus mustache put a hand on Sadie’s shoulder. “Real howler out there, eh?” She smiled into her cup of cocoa and hummed a sound of agreement. The man patted her shoulder once with a hearty chuckle and wandered off.
To her left came the unhappy noises of Clarence. Sadie bit back a sigh, “You could have bailed,” she reminded him. “Everyone else did, I would have been fine.” The look he gave her was, in her humble opinion, a tad over dramatic and usually reserved for people who indiscriminately kicked puppies.
“What, and leave you to get murdered in the mountains?”
_Then at least stop being such a grump_, Sadie thought. Instead of saying it out loud she chose to suck her hot cocoa down, wincing as the heat of it scalded her mouth a little. “Oh look at that, all out. I’m going to go see about a refill.” She patted Clarence’s leg as she stood.
She saw no reason to return to the couch of doom and gloom, stretching her legs a bit might help her shake the depression that had been threatening to envelope her since the first call she got about people cancelling. This weekend was supposed to be a big, group getaway, the last one they’d all get before college threw them to the wind. Instead the weather and flu conspired against the grand plans and Sadie found herself in Clarence’s old civic with him, alone. Add in the fact that they had barely gotten to the resort before the storm really hit, locking their overnight bags in the back of the car, and she wasn’t too amused by any of it.
At least everyone was friendly, stopping to chat with her if she lingered in one spot too long. They were an optimistic crowd too, everyone was confident the storm would blow over in the middle of the night and leave them with a winter wonderland on the slopes. No one could sit still though, she even saw Clarence shift about and get sucked into a nearby conversation. _Good_, she thought, maybe he would tail her a little less if he made some friends.
There was one person who seemed to be a rock in the sea of people, Sadie barely noticed him, sitting still in a plush chair facing a window. Except the blinds were down and the curtains drawn, and the man seemed to be sitting on the very edge of his seat, a certain anxiousness radiating in his lack of motion.
The storm is probably scaring him, Sadie realized. She wandered over towards him, tried her best to make it look nonchalant. The man didn’t move, didn’t blink even when she was close enough to reach out and touch him. “The manager says we’ll be fine in here,” said Sadie. “They said the storm came out of no-where so if we’re still snowed in tomorrow they’re giving free room extensions to anyone who was supposed to check out.” The man still didn’t respond, still didn’t blink, and hadn’t the whole time Sadie spoke to him in fact.
She knelt next to the chair, trying to force eye contact. “Sir?” He still wouldn’t look at her, only out the closed off window, but Sadie didn’t need him to, she was close enough to drink in his features and what she saw sent an icy stab through her heart. “I know you,” she gasped and now, now the man’s eyes twitched to look at her.
“Kyle, my god it’s been _years_. 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 closed her eyes, trying to claw her way to the memories. “I had help, I remember, lots of people and when I found you were so cold and you couldn’t recognize me.” She reached up, touching a thin scar by his left eye. “But I made you cry and the glass fell out, you came back to me.”
Kyle blinked once, twice, and looked back towards the window just as the wind kicked up outside, just as the glass shattered and came raining down on the occupants of the room. Sadie jumped to her feet, heart in her throat and hands shaking. It had been so long since she’d faced the woman, a lifetime between the impossible brave girl she’d been, with feet dancing on fairy dust and wishes and dreams and the young woman she had become, firmly planted in reality, science, no room for make believe. “She’s coming again but don’t worry Kyle, I won’t let the queen have you this time.” The wind blasted colder through the hole in the wall.
“No,” said Kyle quietly. “This time she’s here for you.”