“I wish there was a moon out,” I whisper, watching the words turn to snow in the air. I can feel Summer’s warm breath against my shoulder, her dark eyes watching me as I guide us through the night. There’s a shovel in my hand that feels heavier than this mountain.
Looking down, I can see the underground caves like scales across the valley. We were a tribe of fishes and fences, hidden under the stars. There are 12 peaks around us, each covered in ice and falling asleep.
I could have eaten, hunted and lived along the river forever, counting the holes and the arrows on the backside of the moon. There wasn’t a set of footprints that I didn’t recognize or a name I didn’t know.
The Ice Age makes the world disappear into a bleakness that wipes out our history and forges its own. Our words and roads and blood mean nothing, crippled by the winter. Everything has become insignificant. Everything has become white.
Trying to fight it was trying to push against the wind. I can still feel the splinters in my fingers trying to pull the wood from the icebergs. The chants and prayers I’ve shouted from the mountains to melt this ivory world still ring in my ears.
And Summer. I’ve held onto Summer too long, that golden age of freedom where her body was warm against mine and we could feel the sun on our bare backs. I had tried to keep her going over the frozen boulders and river, and now she limps behind me on raw bones and twisted hooves. She had been my last reminder of how great our world used to be; she was full and sweet and blue-eyed, and long-legged like the days. Now we were both so tired and fading into the snow.
How had that happened? How had that happened?
I had tried so hard not to let it all go, to hold onto every breath and blade of grass I saw.
Tonight I’m going to bury that horse in the ground.
She met Frankenstein up north, and he called her the Bone Picker. They stood together on the last piece of the Bering Strait, just a few steps from the continent with her arms crossed and his eyes closed. The sun went down like a tree in a storm, silently and all at once. She hated that he didn’t see it.
It was dark and the water was cold beneath the ice, and when he took her hand she let him take it. He thought they could sit and watch the sky, but she shook her head and said, “I wish all the stars would fall. I hate the way they look down on me.”
“Lie on your back and look at them straight,” he said. “They’ll look straight back at you.”
Her hair was black against the snow like oil in water. She sighed and said, “You look like a wolf without your teeth. Do something.”
He stood with his back to the wind and shrugged his shoulders. “Haven’t I done enough?”
She thought of the world beneath them, long patches of grass and desert, swells of water and baskets of mud, the ice creeping slowly south. It was so ugly to her eyes. She needed it all to melt and disappear, erasing her footprints through the snow. She kicked off her shoes and curled her toes in the air. It was a long time before she met his broken eyes.
“Do you want to go swimming?”
“Do you want to freeze?”
She shivered in his shadow. “I already have.”