This may sound completely and utterly ludicrous, so beyond any reason or logic, but I swear it’s the truth. There can’t be any other explanation.
When I was younger, I was cursed by a witch. She cursed me with something I’ve named “The Frost”. It’s the curse which freezes anyone I touch.
I know, it sounds like complete bullshit and I know, I should see a therapist about it. I tried once.
I remember it so vividly. It was the beginning of spring, after what could only be described as an excruciatingly long winter. My mom believed it would never end. This was the winter I was cursed, perhaps the witch had cast a curse upon the entire country as well. I don’t know, I just knew, that I wanted to rid myself of this affliction. I had frozen my pet dog, Floppy, I had frozen a squirrel I’d tried feeding, I’d frozen my mom’s hand when she tried wiping my tears and I had smacked her hand away. She’s still not fully able to use her right hand to knit. Knitting was her favorite thing in the world, and I took it away.
The therapist’s office was like a celebration of hideous color combinations. Flowers stained the walls in every single color, yet somehow, whoever made it had ensured that no matching colors were placed next to one another. They all clashed in a giant mesh of ugliness. Even at the tender age of eleven I had a better comprehension of color theory than most other children. My professional conclusion: both my therapist and the carpenter lacked taste, and as I would come to learn, skill.
“Why are you here today, Luke?” she asked, a foul, fake niceness in every utterance.
“I freeze people when I touch them,” I replied simply, not wanting to indulge in the suffocating theatrics of politeness.
She flinched slightly, as if my words had been a pellet launched at her.
She kept insisting that there were no such magical abilities in the real world, believing the reason for my “disillusions” were caused by my father, or rather, lack thereof. Mild annoyance bubbled into an infernal rage, and before I knew what I was doing, I leaped out of the chair and tried smacking her face. I missed and instead my fingertips graced her throat.
They say she’s still not able to speak to this day. She would probably have pressed charges if not too traumatized by the event.
So, the curse remained caged within me. I’ve learned to use gloves, apparently it suppresses the curse’s power. Now, things don’t freeze at the slightest touch, but if I cling onto something for too long, not even the thick, leathery gloves can save the world from my curse.
No one wanted to play with me. I become “Icicle Boy”, which, thinking back, was an extremely sophisticated nickname. I would have settled for something as simple as “Popsicle Kid” to be honest. Nevertheless, I tried making the best out of it, or rather, my mom did. She replaced Floppy with a tiny, fluffy cat named Kitty. Originality was never my mother’s specialty, but what she lacked in imagination she made up for in loving affection. Kitty was my best friend for every single day until I reached eighteen. I wish I could say she died of old age, but she died from being crushed beneath car tires. It was another intolerably cold winter, and she had nestled beneath my mother’s new boyfriend’s car. He was late for work and hadn’t the time nor brain capacity to check before gassing the fucking thing.
My mom told me she died instantly. That should have made me feel better.
I still blame myself. That winter was unlike any before. We’ve had long winters, snowy winters, windy winters, but never a winter as cold as that one. But this one, this one was astonishingly cold. You could spit and when it hit the ground it would shatter into a thousand sparkly pieces. I never thought about why this was. Some old, grumpy guy blamed global warming, others declared God’s wrath. But someone at school once yelled:
“Hey, Icicle Boy, looks like your coming-of-age brought with it the winter’s wrath. Maybe if you piss off, you’ll drag the cold with you!”
That idea had never occurred to me until that foul-mouthed guy yelled it at me. Maybe I was the reason everyone around me suffered this agonizing cold.
Maybe I was the reason Kitty had died.
I spent the next two weeks crying uncontrollably at this thought.
My mom suggested maybe buying me a new cat. I didn’t want to get attached to a new being and then have it ripped away from me. Not again. I was destined for solitude, the cold being my only friend. I wish the cold would envelop me, choke me out of this miserable existence into the only acceptable cold thing; a grave.
Another flickering memory that haunts me from time to time is, once when I picked my mom up from her work’s Christmas party. Mildly drunk was an understatement of her condition, her feet practically crumbling underneath the weight of her intoxication. I somehow was able to lead her to the safety of her bed, placing a large mug of water beside her. I went to get a bucket in case her body decided to revolt, and when I returned, I saw tears trickle down her cheeks.
“Maybe, maybe, maybe I have the same curse as you Luke…? A curse, a cold curse, a cold, horrid, curse, a cold, horrid, lonely curse,” she mumbled between heavy breaths.
I laid next to her for the rest of the night as she cried silently into my shoulder. I had never seen my mother cry before. Not even the cold’s sting could compare to the gut-wrenching pain of watching my mother’s misery.
I promised myself that night, that I would never leave her side like my father once did.
It wasn’t ‘till university that friendships were a concept within my grasp. Leaving my little hometown for a university in the bigger city rid me of the title “Icicle Boy”, granting me the privilege of forging new acquaintances. But I never let anyone get too close, I didn’t want them to get hurt.
However, my delusion of normalcy was crushed by a revelation descending upon me the more I allowed myself to open up. It was at a house party or something akin to that, the alcohol didn’t exactly help jog my memory of said night. One of the few glimpses I recall is of me tumbling down a flight of stairs. I believe it was to the basement, but for what reason I made the descent still eludes me. I vaguely remember being lifted and placed on an old, worn couch which judging by the horrendous blend of colors, must’ve been from the 1960s. The tasteless colors did not bode well for whoever was helping me, and I think I made a comment to that effect.
“Yeah, I agree, it’s terrible. But just cause it looks hideous on the outside doesn’t mean it’s not comfy to sit on. It’s what’s on the inside that matters, and this baby is stuffed with quality polyester from God knows where!” a strong, but kind voice declared.
It’s not until now the shape of my savior began to take form. I had seen him before. He was one of the football players, I think. Or something athletic judging by his build. Long, straight strands of brown hair extended just beneath his ears, the wax’s grasp keeping the what was on top secured back as to not fall down on his forehead. His eyes were blue, blue like the cold winter, yet, there was a kind, kindling flame residing in them. I must have been left speechless because he snapped three times in front of me before I even blinked.
“How much have you had to drink?”
I don’t recall what I said, but it must have been either something incomprehensible or a ridiculous lie, because he started laughing.
“The name’s Jack,” he tried shaking my hand, but even in my drunken state I had the sense to refuse a handshake.
“Cool gloves but isn’t it a bit too warm with them inside?” he asked.
“It’s fashion…,” I blurted out after several seconds of carefully constructing the excuse I’d made so many times.
He laughed again. It was such an effortlessly refreshing laugh. Like someone without a single care in the world, strumming a melody of their harmony for which they transmitted though their infectious instrument of laughter.
Before I could answer he offered me a controller. Which game we played was beyond my memory’s comprehension, but I know he always won. I wasn’t focused on the game anyhow. I was just watching him.
This was the first time in my life I allowed myself to experience falling in love.
I had yet to forge any meaningful friendships, only settling for faint acquaintances. However, Jack was the closest I ever gotten to what I believe was friendship. He would greet me in the hallways, whether I’d be right next to him or on the opposite side of it, if the latter, he would resort to howling. He’d even tried to invite me to his place to play more video games. Despite my desire to spend my time with him, I had to reject the wishes of my heart and reject his offers as well. He was normal, unlike me, not plagued by weirdness and abnormality.
Seemingly, this must have frustrated him. Some time after his many persuasions, he cornered me in the school’s bathroom, alone. The cold shoulder I’d been giving him must’ve been too much.
“Did I do anything to you?” he asked defensively.
And thus, started a long and winded confrontation I’ve had once too many times. There were excuses, there was yelling, there was the brewing of tears. At one point, when the discussion was practically boiling with emotions, he grabbed my hand and I was too distraught to react. Suddenly, he yelled out in pain, and I saw his retracted hand’s fingers turn blue. He looked at them, then at me. I cried “I’m sorry” over and over again.
Not even the cold’s sting could compare to the gut-wrenching pain of watching Jack’s pain.
We haven’t talked since.
And with each passing day since then, the winter days have become longer, more intense and colder. The busses struggle with making their routes, people barely walk the streets, afraid that it will be their last outing. We are trapped in the middle of an infuriated blizzard; one which will not be controlled, and we cannot escape.
The days meshes together, the memories of my movements and actions but an elusive notion, one I cannot grasp. The only shard of remembrance was of me and my mom, hurling together on the couch with a wool blanket as our only means of protection against the cold. School, recreational time and work, I can recall neither, yet, I was there. I remember one final thing as well.
I still haven’t spoken to Jack again.
Why did it matter though? We’ve only spent time together once, at a party. His initial persistence is a mystery to me, much like my eluding memories. Perhaps my obsession was sparked by the kindling hope he’d ignited within me?
It is astounding to think that the school had neglected to close down, even in this blazing snowstorm. I find myself sitting at a bus stop, encased in its glassy protection, the winter’s anger taking various shapes across the glassy surface. If it wasn’t for the biting cold, I would have found the icy shapes beautiful, but they remind me of the vicious curse haunting me.
The bus is late. Must have gotten stuck or perhaps they have canceled the route altogether. But here I sit, all alone, not trapped in a winter wonderland, but in a frozen Hell.
“Jesus Christ, it’s goddamn cold!”
With a huff and a puff, a big body wrapped in a gray winter coat and a dark green scarf bulldozes its way through the blizzard and into my confinement. As it sits down, it pulls down its scarf enough for me to see it’s Jack. Each breath escaping his mouth creates a cloud of iciness gently floating into the storm and being eviscerated by the ferociousness.
How long it’s been since last I’d seen him, I cannot recall. But here he sits, right next to me, and I am trapped with nowhere to run, nowhere the hide.
“Oh, hey Luke,” he cautiously greets.
I nod solemnly back.
“How’ve you been?”
He desperately tries making conversation, to fill the empty awkwardness that threatens to choke us. Right now, the blizzard appears more tempting than engaging in these theatrics.
“Fine, and you?” I respond, indulging his politeness.
“Fine,” he replies, sensing the cold emitting from me.
We sit there for what feels like hours, no bus in sight nor an end to the blizzard. It even seems more ferocious now than ever before.
“If this bus doesn’t come soon, we’ll both become popsicles. I’m freezing my butt off,” Jack shivers.
His sentiment rings true, despite my curse I am prone to the cold’s bite on my own skin. Although, Jack’s clothing should be more than enough to sustain him for many more hours. Mine, however, are not made to last in long blizzards, quite the opposite, I had planned to spend only but a few minutes in the cold. Now, the cold penetrates the thin clothing and finding residence inside my body, my hands shaking as a result of the cold’s occupancy. Jack takes notice:
“Are you completely insane!? Why the Hell did you not wear some proper clothing in this crazy weather? You’re gonna freeze to death if that bus doesn’t arrive soon,” he scolds.
I feel my cheeks blossom red from the cold, the embarrassment and the underlying irritation that’s brewing beneath the surface. We hadn’t talked for so long, yet here he resumes our friendship as if it had frozen and now suddenly decides to thaw. Friendships doesn’t freeze, they just break, like all the bonds I’ve tried forging.
I think of what my mom said, a cold, horrid, lonely curse.
He unzips his winter coat, offering me the extra space in its left half.
“It’s oversized as all Hell, there’s room enough for both of us.”
I stare at the warm, empty space next to him, and then my gaze moves to his eyes. They are hopeful, still containing a spark, perhaps of our previous friendship, one he wishes to rekindle. But I cannot allow myself this, sitting so close to him with my curse, I could turn him into an icicle before the blizzard does.
“I’m fine, don’t worry about m-”
Before my rejection can come through, he grabs my arm and waist and nestles me beside him. I’m engulfed in his warm embrace as he wraps the coat around me, forcing me closer to him.
For just a single moment, I forget about the curse, I forget about the consequences, I forget about the pain, and I just engulf the moment. Sitting next to him.
Then the spell is broken, and my fears resurface as I see the tip of his fingers overlapping mine turning blue. As I try to separate my hand from his, he closes it around mine, tighter than before.
“Can you stop freezing me out? I know you’re not that cold, and you don’t want to be alone, right? I can see it in your eyes. You just…you just want to be normal, right? To have someone. Like me.”
Before I can process what meaning he’s trying to convey, he draws my hand to his heart, forcing me closer to his face. He holds me there, his nervous features telling the tale of someone gathering the courage to do something brave.
He kisses me.
With one hand holding my cursed hand to his heart, the other gently holds around my face. He kisses me a second time, less strained and nervous now.
He pulls back, my hand still glued to his chest. Not a single trail of blue resides in his fingertips. The storm has suddenly calmed down.
We’re sitting all alone, watching the cold’s wonders gently flutter toward the ground in perfect harmony, stacking up on one another in its icy, white delight. The previous blizzard seemingly a nightmare which has evaporated like fog, and we sit here, in our winter wonderland, staring into one another’s eyes.
And I don’t feel cursed or lonely anymore.