This should be edited. Not only do I not have a beta, I didn't even look it over myself. Another of my stranger pieces of writing, I think.
Someone once asked me, "What's colder than snow?" I was puzzled, more due to the nature of the question than the answer that sprung readily to my lips. That was natural. As I replied, I thought of you.
You weren't always cold. Once upon a time – long before the I met you – there was fire in your eyes. It was a certain defiance, a veiled rage directed at the world, a painful purpose. You existed to climb under people's skin, strip their armour away, and to blister them; you hurt at everything, and you found a way to strike back – a childish revenge. People marvelled at the destruction that defined you, the way they'd make you kneel before you raised your head and said, "Fuck you."
And it was perfect; the inferno of a boy that smiled like he had a storm raging in his head, screaming to be released.
You were perfect – no, you were simply beautiful (and there's something about beauty that transcends perfection) – in the way that an awkward child is, cruel and teasing and bubbling with reaction.
There was no transition period. The frost didn't creep upon you like the shift of the seasons; you barely felt it snatch at your limbs or twist your contorted face into the first of its subsequent cold smirks. Winter had slept long; when it awoke, it consumed.
The day I met you, I thought you were invincible. You gazed at everything in passive acceptance, pleased with even the direst situations; you'd have smirked at the face of the man who held a gun against your head. "It was interesting," you would claim, and eyebrows would meet hairlines.
And you'd have won. There was no need to curse and scowl and kick out at the world if you could simply laugh at it and you'd be noticed. Their impressions were never considered – negativity was a victory in itself – and it stood you at much greater advantage: they didn't kick back.
You mocked even me: the silly, sad little girl with bigger hair than self-esteem and a piece of metal in her face for each perceived flaw. Mask upon mask upon mask. I wasn't boring, you claimed, and so you'd kiss my eyelids and tug at my hand when I needed affection. You'd summon me when your sister pissed you off and you needed silent, brooding company. We fitted because we could touch each other – skin against skin, me watching your face and you watching the floor – but we could never quite slide under the skin. You could never understand me, I could never fathom you.
Snow didn't have the bite that ice did, and sometimes I'd see you longing to lash out. You perfected masks, after that, and your lack of humanity was savage yet somehow refined.
It didn't last; the monotony was making you itch for something to sneer at and I could feel your boredom beginning to eat at me. 'Interesting things' were like shiny new toys to you: play with them, indulge them in their purpose for a while, then find something shinier. You were never the type to part on bad terms, so you smirked, eyes detached and observing elsewhere (wasn't it shiny?) and your hand brushed my shoulder. There was something too longing to be amusement and too indifferent to be lust in your eyes as I blinked away the tears in mine. You looked older. I looked like an infant, all florid cheeks and runny nose because I'd lost my old favourite teddy bear. It had snowed; I'd caught a cold. Your expression didn't waver – I wanted to hit you. I wanted to hit you - when I tried to smile, but the flick of your fingertips as you waved said mask, and my lips collapsed, and I wanted more than anything for yours to fall down with them. I wanted some acknowledgement that you were losing something; I didn't dare dream to hope that it was something precious. I wanted to be the one that pierced your mask. I wanted to prove to myself that you weren't invincible – hell, I wanted to see something still burning, no matter how small the flame was.
I never did. I don't remember who walked away first, but you were never one for running away from an easy victory. Looking back, your smile was as lonely as mine was.
We played lots of games together. There were board games, where cheating was encouraged because if you could get away with it, you damn well deserved the victory; countless games of rock paper scissors that lasted for hours of rematches until our hands ached so badly that scissors felt like metal claws crushing our fingers; the subconscious games, where I'd stare at your preoccupied face for as long as you could bear not to offer me your attention.
It didn't snow. I worked through endless tedious night shifts, vaguely hungering for the scent of your leather jacket as the local bike gang chugged down their booze. I stared out of the window, familiarised myself with every smudge and fingerprint, waiting for some sign that you could still touch me, despite the distance, even slightly. From then on, it never snowed.
I never did find out what took you away. Your father. Your wanderlust. Your boredom. I heard that you were studying art, growing a beard, smoking pot. I knew your room-mate through a friend. I met someone we both spent time with (he admired you, remember?) and he told me, a few months later, that you were doing well. I wondered what that meant: Did you graduate? Were you excelling in the art world? Had you shaved off your beard yet? If we met now, would you smile in that same way?
I didn't want to know if you were lonely. I didn't want to know if you ever thought of me.
Eventually statistics won over my love of metaphor and it did snow, thick and less white than it ought to have looked, for four hours on a Saturday morning. It was sludge by the evening, and rain had washed it away by the early hours of the next morning. I didn't sleep. Sleeping that night would have felt like laughing at a funeral.
I didn't love you. What I could have loved burned out before I knew it was precious, and I was never enough of a distraction to relight it. I was drawn by your acceptance, your arrogance; your smirk was magnetic to me like a caring smile would have been to any other. Truth be told, I was attracted at first to the challenge you presented. You were enigmatic, effortless and I was running eyes closed, arms outstretched. It wasn't difficult to make the pieces fit.
It was so long ago that when it snows, now, on the streets of a city far from the place we both left behind, I don't think of you. When I see children tossing snowballs, I don't wonder whether you ever did find someone interesting enough to thaw you; to strip away the smirks – even harder and colder than before – that you hide behind. Your element was fire; I wanted to see it consume you. Since the first snow, when it didn't hurt too much to think about, I've doubted it: a man destined to drown can never burn. You've evolved already; you'll be how I knew you forever. This could all be wishful thinking on my part. Was. Even thoughts of you are the past to me now.
Thank you for reading. As always, critique and feedback are very much appreciated.