A living snowflake and flame fall in love despite their natural differences.
(Please keep in mind that said characters' genders are decided by the reader.)
in the beginning...
The night is cold. Very, very cold. The residents of Heartfelt, North Dakota felt that it was an especially cold winter, even by their standards. None of them know yet, but most school would be canceled for the entire week - this is the week that this story takes place in.
"Oh, god, oh god, what's going on...?"
This is the voice of the snow. It rises from the sidewalk, the sounds of the gentle voice reverberating around the dome of ice and snow. It is completely dark, but light somehow bleeds through the cracks in the snow, shining onto the sidewalk below; assaulting a lone egg of ice, shiny and like glass.
This egg has been in the making for about two-and-a-half universes. The things with the most work put into them tend to take very long to create, and the Creators, the ones rising from each catastrophic Fracture, have all treasured this idea immensely, this idea of a balance between opposite forces.
The ice cracks - vapor rises out of it, flooding the tiny igloo. This causes more destruction, as the brittle snow begins to crack as well. The egg is hatching. Time is up.
The snow falls now, the igloo destroyed by the force of energy, the force of life. Something reaches out.
a time before...
Elsewhere, inside the sanctuary of a bedroom, a lone unlit scented candle is set atop a cabinet, facing the window. The room is empty, though it is usually occupied by a lonely woman, filled with hatred towards the decisions that have led her to now.
Though the candle is ordinary - a little short for any true aesthetic liking - the flame's life force has also been shaped for an extremely long time, shaped by forces beyond anyone's control.
The candle sparks, as if struck by a rock - the woman remains in slumber.
Again, it sparks.
Again, with intensity.
And finally, with time, the candle catches fire, a small dainty flame resting at the top of the wax. Red, hot eyes may have opened.
in the present...
And here, too, in the remains of a home made of snow, eyes may have opened - though these were far cooler and less vibrant. Regardless, it crawled and clambered, frightened of the light of the lamppost above it and envious of the shelter it just destroyed.
The Snowflake shielded its eyes from the light and made haste for somewhere else, wherever that would be. As the lamppost shrunk away from its line of sight, the Snowflake was suddenly in darkness.
"Hello?" the Snowflake called out. Its voice was frightened and gentle, but had a sense of firmness in it. "Hello? Is anyone out there?"
As it looked around, it noticed, in the corner of its eyes, a small light in the window of a home. "Hello? Can you see me?"
"Hello?" it exclaims.
He stumbles toward a pile of snow, exhausted already by the stifling landscape of what we would consider a yard. As it climbed, it looked to the house. In the windows it could see the silhouettes of a leviathan creature, long hair falling from her uncanny face. The candle remained the center of attention, and, packing some snow itself, it began the trek towards the house.
An undisclosed amount of time later - perhaps 15 minutes - it arrived at the door. Slipping under the door elevated from the ground by such a miniscule amount, its greeted by a monstrous voice:
"Robert, are you done with your room?"
This voice wasn't deep, but it was loud and shrill. Surely the owner of this voice was a terrible beast.
It moved along the hard wood, arriving onto the fabric. It's still nice and cold, but it knows it will begin to thaw soon.
The beast screamed again: "Robert!"
Another voice erupted from far away: a younger one. Less shrill, but much more childlike. "I'll get it done, Mom!"
And he has been exposed to the wrath of Mom, the creature he saw in the window; gigantic and fleshy, covered by miles of green and blue fabric of some kind. It stomped past the Snowflake, walking up giant stairs and disappearing into a door.
Shaken but determined to know who the Flame was, it continues to walk.
The Flame looks around.
It strains, desperately trying to leave the trap of the Candle. Moves left, moves right… but nothing. If it pulls to hard, it just might fall down and burn the house down.
Something is moving on the cabinet now. What is it?
It crawls up to the Candle, looking at it with a face of curiosity. Eight legs, eight eyes… A spider!
"Hey… hey there, little guy," the Flame says. It's voice is inviting and calm, like that of a mother. The spider crawls closer. "I won't hurt."
The arachnid is right next to the wax of the Candle. It brushes a leg to it, feeling the crumbly texture of the wax. "How're you doing?" the Flame says. "Wanna talk?"
The Flame reaches out to the bug. It feels its touch for a second; its small, thin leg - it feels like hair.
The spider doesn't enjoy this. It's startled, jumping back at the touch of fire. It absconds, crawling back to between the wall and the cabinet.
"No, don't go! I'm sorry," the Flame exclaims, calling to the creature. It is too late.
The Flame is alone again.
The Flame is really starting to regret being created.
That is, until it hears a voice from below.
It looks around, surprised by the calling. "Hello? Who is that?"
"Down here," the voice says.
She strains, and jumps, the force holding the Flame and the Candle forcing the small figure to hop with the Flame, moving towards the edge of the cabinet. It hops and hops, careful not to fall over, and soon it can look over the edge.
A tiny white thing is down there. Can tiny white things talk? Who knows. This one seems to be able to. "
"Oh… Hello," the Flame says. The tiny white thing has begun to climb, supporting itself with the intricate carvings of the wood. "What're you doing?"
He's getting closer to the top. "Well… I just got here, and…" he's panting, but still climbing. "I-I looked over here and… I noticed you standing here."
Crawling onto the top of the cabinet, he keels over at the edge, breathing heavily to himself. "S-so I… thought I'd… say… Hi!"
The Flame smiles. It seems the universe has traded the spider for this lovely person. "That's very nice of you. Thank you!"
The Snowflake brushes itself off, setting its spare pile of snow down and offering its hand. "How are you doing?"
The Flame responds: "I'm doing very well, thank you," it says. They shake hands.
Immediately the snow of its hand melts, and the Snowflake yelps. "Oh-oh my God!" it says, and it's beginning to panic, its hand aflame.
"Oh, oh, it's happening again," the Flame says, panicking as well. "The snow, the snow!" It covers its red, warm face, hiding in shame.
The Snowflake understands immediately, and dunks its hand into the pile of snow. The flames are stifled by the cold and the Snowflake's hand is back to normal.
"I-It's, uh… it's alright! I'll just be careful to keep my distance," it says. It sits down next to the Flame.
The Flame unsheathes its face from its hands. "...You aren't gone?"
"Why would I be gone?
"W-well, I mean, I hurt you…" the Flame remarked.
"I almost got crushed by a giant monster. I think a little scorching is fine."
"Oh, uh, yeah," the Flame stammers, "Those are the giants."
"Who are they?"
The Flame's eyes begin to burn a little brighter. "Um, the tall one is Debra, but I think her real name is mom. She had a friend who stayed here with her, but he left. There's two kids, Robert and George, but George is a brat and Robert is always in his room."
The Snowflake looks into the distance, towards the door of the Mom's room. "Interesting…"
The Flame coughs and says: "They're harmless, though, except for Debra's friend; but like I said, he's gone now."
"Harmless? Nothing that huge could be harmless."
They both chuckle, and they continue to talk. Mostly about the house and its inhabitants; but the Flame is interested in the outside world.
"Well, I've only existed for about an hour," the Snowflake remarks, "But from what I've seen and felt, it's very cold."
"I bet you enjoy it," the Flame says.
"Not very much. Too cold for my taste. Sometimes you need some warmth…"
The Flame inches closer… but light slowly shines through the window, and the Snowflake is getting smaller.
"Well, I had better go," the Snowflake says. "It's getting bright and it really does a number on my eyes."
And the Flame knew this was going to happen. Knew that loneliness would rear its ugly head again.
"But maybe I'll see you later?" the Snowflake says. "I could visit again."
"Sure, that sounds great."
The Snowflake looks over the edge, and jumps off of the cabinet. The Flame, startled, looks over the edge; and the Snowflake is on its feet, ready for the journey back to the outside. It looks back up to the Flame, and yells: "I'll see you tomorrow!"
Looking at that cold, subtle face filled with naivety, the Flame swooned, and hoped to God the Snowflake was not lying.
one week later...
"So," the Snowflake pondered, "What's life like in here?"
They're atop the cabinet again. The Snowflake's heart is aflutter; who knew that a 150 year old cabinet could be the site of new love? Hopefully the Flame's thoughts on the matter are mutual.
Smiling, the Flame's warm hand almost takes hold of the Snowflake's, until memories of fire melting snow jolted it back into reality. "I-it's fine, but it's especially lonely. I don't think any of the giants know about me, and I have to be careful or I'll set something on fire."
"...I'm sorry." The Snowflake looks down with a somber look.
"I can't imagine what that must be like," the Snowflake says. "I'm just sorry. It'd be nice to hold hands with you."
The Flame looks up. "Really?"
"Yeah. You're very warm."
Unexpectedly, the Snowflake notices that the Flame's face is not one of gratitude or affection; rather, it is one of skepticism and suspicion. "What's wrong?"
"I just…" the Flame begins, "I wouldn't expect to hear that. I don't… understand why."
"You just have an inferiority complex, I think. It's not fair to feel that way about yourself."
The Flame doesn't respond. There is nothing more to say on the matter.
An idea sprouts in the Snowflake's mind. Just a candle… one dainty little flame. Not strong enough for a wildfire ora disaster. Certainly there's something that can withstand that burning touch, if only for a few seconds. Grass? Wood? Maybe-
The voice of Mom suddenly rings through the house. She's in the other room.
"No, Ryan, you can't! Get your own home… that's too bad!"
"...Who is she talking to?" The Snowflake whispers.
"Herself, I think," the Flame responds, "She holds a piece of glass to her ear and talks to herself. Very strange."
"...Then I'll call the police! You are not setting foot in this house again!"
The house is now silent. This is now very awkward.
Footsteps echo through the house. They realize she's coming to her bedroom, and by the sound of it she doesn't seem too happy. The Snowflake bids its adieu: "I'd better go. I'll see you later."
Dismayed but determined, the Flame responds. "Goodbye. Be careful."
The Snowflake leaves by the same way he always does; a jump off the cabinet and a journey back to the cold winter outside.
three days later...
The Snowflake gazes upon the smorgasbord upon it. A stray slice of bread lays on the floor, having been dropped by a small (still gigantic) child during a mishap involving meat and toast. Near it is a dollop of butter.
And a short distance away, a filled garbage back lies, waiting to be taken to the dump.
An idea yet again sprouts. The Snowflake grabs as many crumbs (of decent size for one of such miniscule size) and the gears click in its head.
The Flame is stressed beyond belief. The Snowflake is late. Always here on time, always ready to talk… what happened? Has this one finally come to its senses and left? It knew this would happen.
While the Flame wallows in its self-loathing, the Snowflake has just finished climbing the cabinet; an exemplary achievement considering the extra weight of food, fabric, and extra snow.. "Hey."
Turning around with a wild relief, the Flame responds. "Oh, h-hi… what're you holding?"
"Dinner," it says, dropping several crumbs in front of them. It also pulls out a scrap of a garbage bag, spreading it out onto the wood like a picnic. "Don't worry," the Snowflake assures, "I fireproofed it. Paper and alum."
The Flame looks to their picnic with wonder and surprise. No spider could do this. The Flame becomes a line of fire, zipping to the picnic, where it sees that it can finally relax away from a wax prison.
"This is amazing…"
"Yeah, I thought you'd like it," the Snowflake says, sitting next to the living flame. "Try it."
The red-hot hands of the Flame reach for a crumb, but they quickly draw back when it notices the bread warming up. The Snowflake assures the Flame: "It's okay. It's supposed to do that. Here."
The Snowflake, grabbing a toothpick seemingly from nowhere, stuck it in the dollop of butter and used it to spread it onto the crumb. The Flame picks it up, and it begins to toast. In a second it is eaten. "This is delicious."
They talked and laughed for hours. They talked about the house, about the humans. The Flame has been here for a while, much longer than the Snowflake has. One topic the Snowflake wouldn't let go.
"Why does the snow melt away?" it asks.
"What do you mean?"
"You said earlier that the snow hasn't always been here. That means it'll eventually go away."
"It just… happens," the Flame says, "When the snow is gone, it becomes very nice outside… then it'll be really hot… then all the leaves will be red and orange… and I think it just comes back to the snow."
"How long does that take?"
"Like, 400 days. I don't keep track."
"Wait, so the snow just melts? And it doesn't come back, for 400 days?"
Suddenly a wave of fright washes over the Snowflake's face, and the Flame suddenly regrets what it's said. "B-but you'll be fine, probably! Wait, no, not probably! You'll be fine! I pro-"
"It's okay," the Snowflake interrupts. "Everyone has a deadline. Apparently mine is just early."
"No, noooo it isn't! Your-your deadline is fine!"
"We can worry about it later. I just want to have dinner with you."
So they ate, and they had fun. Eventually, the Flame became tired, and began to rest on the Snowflake's shoulder. Quietly, it gasps in pain, rips off a piece of the fireproofed plastic off, and places it under the Flame. The Snowflake knows this can only last for a few minutes.
So it takes the time it can.
An unstable man with a penchant for control reminds himself to pick up a shotgun at the store downtown. He has plans to make and locks to break.
two days later…
The Snowflake's hands erupt from the snow, and in a minute or so, it is up and ready for the journey to the house yet again. Looking up to the window, happiness floods its mind as it sees the Flame atop the candle.
Okay, no, so it was wrong. The candle is not there. Don't panic. They probably just moved the candle! Just go inside and look for it.
As the Snowflake reaches closer to the house, it hears a voice:
"A-are you there?"
It's the Flame's voice. The Snowflake looks to the window, but still there is no flame.
It is only when its eyes just so happen to wander to the ground that the Flame's life is saved.
The Flame is lying on the cold snow, reduced to a single red spark and barely attached to the wick of the candle.
"Oh my god," the Snowflake says, quickly gathering some small twigs and grass. Snow has nearly extinguished the dwindling Flame. Soon it is surrounded by pieces of the yard. What is that
The Snowflake grabs a twig, and holds it to the Flame's pained face. "No, nononono-"
It stops, however, when the twig is lit aflame, and dropped into the fire. The Snowflake continues until the ring of grass is gone and the red spark is a hot, proud flame.
The Snowflake is very close to the Flame now, and it asks: "What happened?"
It had been waiting for the Snowflake's next appearance, when Debra the Mom had burst into the room, sobbing and angry. She had been throwing things and hitting things, and had ended up throwing her phone at the cabinet after another bout of talking to and threatening herself - she had made two calls, one of which she was very angry during and the other she was very afraid during. This phone ended up hitting the candle, knocking it out of the open window.
The Snowflake says, "I'm sorry," and begins to wrap its hands around the Flame. Only for a second, however, as the Snowflake's hands quickly retract from the burning touch.
Reminded of that curse, the Flame begins to sob, the tears stinging its face. Every second is pain.
But, surprisingly, those hands yet again reach around the fire.
The Flame looks back up, and through its painful tears it can see the Snowflake, arms and torso covered in more of the fireproofed plastic from their picnic. It is slowly melting, but the Snowflake's face remains blissful.
"I will always hug you."
Seconds passed, seconds that normally would have killed the both of them, and when they passed the Snowflake removed itself from the Flame and packed more snow into itself. The Flame, almost completely healed from its injuries but emotionally exhausted, said:
"I think I love you."
The Snowflake looked back, but the Flame has already succumbed, and is now unconscious. Hands strain and snow melts, but eventually the Snowflake has the Flame on its back and ready to carry to the cabinet.
The Snowflake and the Flame were happy, if not nervous. The end of the Winter season grew ever closer to its end, which took its toll on the Snowflake. What little time it spent away from the Flame, it spent outside, gathering as much snow as it could; searching for a way to stay. Ice melts to water, but if the water is frozen again…
The Flame knew the Snowflake would soon perish, and it too took its toll. The arguing and yelling between the Mother and the Children did not help, and one could obviously see something was very wrong with the Mother. Her expression reminded the Flame of fear - something horrible will happen.
Regardless, as said before, they were happy. Some days they would sit on the cabinet and talk, eating bread crumbs and butter, watching the scenery outside. They found that they didn't need many words to communicate - only each other.
It is almost midnight. Mother is asleep, as are the children.
The Snowflake said: "I still haven't figured out. This is kind of the crappy part of being abstract… we'll both die if we're melted or burnt out, but a candle can be re-lit, and water can be frozen… or maybe… -"
Knock, knock, knock.
Is that the front door? "What is that?" the Flame said.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
More knocking. The two sit in silence while the Mother is risen from her sleep. As she walks to the door of her bedroom, grumbling loudly, "Who is it!?", the knocking grows louder and more pronounced. Then…
A loud crack rings through their ears. The Mother runs out of her bedroom. The front door has been blasted apart. They hear the faint sound of a shotgun reloading. Faint footsteps riddle through the house, and they hear the voice of Robert, the youngest child:
This moment could be described by everyone involved as the most stifling silence of their entire lives. Nothing moved, nothing made a single sound. In the days to pass, the Father of these two children would claim, in a dark room accompanied by two police officers, that Robert was taunting him and had to die. This went on for five seconds, until the Mother utters:
A thud to the ground.
The Mother opens the door and sneaks downstairs. The Snowflake and the Flame stayed snug on the cabinet, trying to open the window to escape. Another door opens, and George, the older child, says: "Dad?"
They hear the sounds of light footsteps running, followed by the heavy footsteps of a heavyset man. Whoever he is, he is laughing. It seems whoever is making noise is ignoring George now, because the footsteps are ringing closer to the bedroom.
The Flame panics. "Ohmygodohmygodohmygod what do we do?"
"Calm down," the Snowflake says. "Just be natural. Pretend."
The Flame is desperately still, as the Snowflake hid behind the candle. A feminine voice cries out: "Leave him alone!"
This time, the door again blasts open, and the Mother is thrown inside. Cut to the Demon: a leviathan walks in, truly a demonic sight to behold - bloodshot eyes, speech slurred. Almost too large to enter the door, he immediately strikes the Mother, the force of it forcing her onto the floor. His voice erupts from his mouth, coalescing into some form of roar, or, maybe a laugh?
She screams, and kicks him in the shin. He yells again, dropping the shotgun, but this time he kicks her while she's down, and both the Snowflake and the Flame see blood. But they also see the child walk in, very quietly but very knowing of what he is to do.
As the Father assaults the Mother, the Child grabs the fallen shotgun, pointing it in front of him, and-
They can't tell who falls - but someone does, and whoever it is, they bump into the cabinet. It shatters the window, and the candle begins to rolls down. The fire touches the cabinet and the plaid fabric of the one who hit the cabinet, and in seconds they are on fire. The Snowflake sees this and leaps for the Flame, grabbing onto the candle wick as they both roll out the window, colliding with the cold ground below.
The Snowflake's eyes open, and the first sight they see is the house in a blazing inferno, smoke billowing into the sky. The second sight they see is the body of someone inches away, unmoving and silent.
It crawls to the candle, the Flame sobbing and growing smaller and smaller from the cold. Brushing the dead snow off, it says: "It's okay... I've got you." Their arms embrace.
"Don't leave," the Flame whimpers, "Please, please,"
"I won't," the Snowflake reassures. "Never."
They both look to the house, and they can hear sirens.
"I love you. It'll be okay, we'll be okay."
They both grow smaller from the heat and cold.
"It'll be okay. I promise."
As the Snowflake melts entirely, the Flame burns out.
A puddle of water and a burnt out candle lie before his eyes. The driver of the ambulance opens the door and walks outside, picking up the antique candle, and wonders: My Nanna would really like one of these.
He sets it in a plastic bag. The candle, covered in the water that used to be its love and baring a wick begging to be lit, is stuffed in the man's pocket, as they take the bodies of the Mother and the Child.
This is where our story ends.