The snow crunched loudly in protest under her boots. The stark white tundra stretched out for miles before her, a vast wasteland of frozen beauty that she could not quite get used to. She took careful steps with her arms outstretched like a young gymnast balancing on a beam for the first time. The last thing she wanted was to misplace a foot and sink down into the soft snow. The snow found it a bit of a game to coax a leg or two into is welcoming embrace and then laugh silently as the owner yanked themselves out, cursing at how cold and wet they became. Cold wind nipped at her pale face like a lioness would toy with its stumbling prey in the savanna as she trudged along. She only had a little bit longer to travel before she reached her warm and cozy destination, but all she could think about was the biting cold that penetrated the warmth of her jacket and burrowed sharply into her skin. She shrugged further into her puffy jacket, bringing the collar about her face in hopes to shield it from the oncoming wind and flurries of snow.
Her winters back at home were almost lifeless compared to these. There was always that unspoken hope lingering on people’s tongues for snow to fall down in its gentle curiosity. But, it never usually happened. She remembered a few times last year she wore shorts and flip flops in what was supposed to be the dead of winter. People still played outside, laughing and rolling around as a comfortable pseudo-summer breeze danced like an imp through their hair. The air was sometimes cold, but the climate remained lazily warm, as if subtly rebelling against the season and its reputation for dropping temperatures. Rarely was anything in the South done in compliance with what the rest of the world did, but she liked it like that. It, among other things, gave her reason to be different.
Her long, ebony hair clung in a wet, tangled mat against her back and the snow began to fall from the sky with a new intensity. She had never thought such gentle precipitation could be so brutal as it pattered against her face. It was only the middle of November, but it was the coldest weather she had ever experienced. She was surprised her small frame could stand against the temperature here, but she was a hearty girl despite her size. What doesn’t break us, makes us , she thought over and over as she increased the tempo of her footsteps.
Her heart quickened as she reached the steps between her and warmth and happiness. She was almost there--her face became bright with a smile, not caring when the cold air took an opportunity to slip into her mouth and travel ruthlessly down her throat to freeze her insides. Another girl trotted down the stairs, all bundled up and eager to reach her own warm destination. She mistook the dark-haired girl’s smile as a greeting and exchanged her own smile, but she was completely unaware of the real reason why the other girl was smiling.
Upon opening the door, the dark-haired girl was confronted with an odd but familiar cardboard door holder that stuck out like a sore thumb. It was strategically placed in between the two doors and she knew exactly where it came from. Gentle laughter erupted from her lips as she yanked the cardboard from its place. An alluring wave of warmth embraced her and pulled her into the hallway. She sighed heavily, a faint smile lingering on her blue-tinted yet still brilliantly rosy lips and sauntered the last few steps to her destination. The door stood in front of her, a barrier keeping her from the one person she had been wanting to see all day. She rapped softly on the wood with her knuckles; they tingled lightly from the contact. The girl patiently waited for a reply, that same smile creeping farther across her face with each passing second.
A muffled voice instructed her to come in and that knocking wasn’t necessary, which she knew, but out of politeness and habit, did it anyway. His lilting laughter tinkled along in the air like her favorite music box would after she gently wound it up and her heart beat a little faster. As her fingers wrapped around the door handle and she opened the door, her smile was finally complete.