Here’s Week 3 of the 26000 Words project. Unlike last week’s creative, this one is less weird. More romantic. Or would be if I had managed to finish it. This short story was inspired by my trip to Whistler, BC this past weekend. The narrator is a guy I’ve named Adam (although you don’t see his name anywhere in the story). I’ll most likely be adding on to this, since it clearly doesn’t have a satisfying ending yet. Watch out for it in future 26000 Words posts.
I blew out a long line of air, trying to ease my frustrations and distract myself at the same time. I watched as my breath fogged around me, the subzero temperatures solidifying it into smoky tendrils that danced before my face. It was so mesmerizing that I almost forgot that I was freezing despite wearing my down feather jacket and long johns.
The jet-black sky was clear for the first time in days, revealing a big, white moon, round and full. It was almost midnight and part of me wanted to run. Run back to my cabin and sit beside the fireplace with a hot mug of coffee between my frosty fingers. I craved warmth, but instead stood my ground. I couldn’t leave. Not just yet.
Growing up in Los Angeles, the only time I ever really knew what it felt like to be cold was when the air conditioning was cranked up too high in the mall. I lived for the sun, sandy beaches, and the blue-green ocean. Spending the holidays in Whistler, some mountain town in Canada, was the last thing that I wanted to do. But Aunt Janice married a Canadian last year and, as luck would have it, it was our family’s turn to visit for Christmas. Whoop-tee-do.
I’ll admit that learning to snowboard was pretty cool, but give me a surfboard and the lick of warm waves against my body any day. In fact, the only thing about winter that was even remotely alright was the fact that it gave me a good reason to stay caffeinated. Thank god for hot lattes and espressos.
So, despite all my warm inclinations, why the hell was I waiting out in the cold like an idiot?
There was only one reason good enough to risk frostbite.
The first time I saw her, she walked right past me while I was exploring the village. She was bundled up in a bright blue snow jacket and white ski pants. A tear marred the spot above her right knee, and a few drops of blood ruined them even further. Despite all that, she had a big, satisfied smile on her face, which was pink from the cold. Her almond-shaped eyes lit up as she talked animatedly to her companion, a girl who looked like her older sister.
I think she was telling the story of what happened to her pants and it was the way that she looked as she spoke that first made me desperate to talk to her. To hear her tell me the same story with that exact same smile on her face.
She laughed as she passed me by and it was one of the happiest sounds I’d ever heard.
I saw her the next day at Starbucks, where I had gone for my requisite 3pm latte. She had a book open on the table before her, but her eyes were trained out the window. Fluffy snowflakes the size of quarters fell steadily outside, slowly covering the pedestrian streets in fresh powder.
Her small, slender hand was tucked under her chin and her brow was furrowed, as if she was concentrating on counting every snowflake and didn’t want to miss a single one. Her long dark hair cascaded around her shoulders like a blanket and a part of me wanted to tangle my fingers in those black threads and feel the warmth of each one.
The barista called my name, waking me up from my daydream, and I left before I could give myself the chance to be brave.