In my childhood, snow was magic. As the days grew shorter and the temperatures dropped, I became dizzy with the prospect of bright eyes, shivery moments, and socks stuffed with snow as I trod outside before my mother tucked my snowpants into my boots. No child had to be told the mood of a snow day. It was pure instinct.
I used to imagine each snowflake was an individual soul.
Every snowflake is unique, they would say, just like we are. And I wanted to know their stories, why they had left their families in the sky to explore the world below. What made them cold? What turned them to soft ice? And yet they danced as they fell, with the directive of earth but no rush to get there.
With every passing year, I realized my anthropomorphic mistake just a little bit more.
Now I see their bodies lay in thick layers on the ground, and with every step I take, my boots press them together, fusing them into a cold, crunchy carpet of carnage. I see each snowflake in space, swirling around me like I'm a roadblock on a heavy highway, and I try not to be the bad guy, the arch nemesis to these babies' first steps. They may be cold and icy, but I crush them with my movements.
My mother used to tell me that the bigger the snowflakes were, the less likely it was that the snow would stick. That is because the bigger flakes were actually multiple flakes, clinging to each other as they went down, their molecules growing wet and sticky as the warmer temperatures eroded their bodies. The air is thick with them now, fat, decaying snowflakes that will turn this wintry carpet to sludge with their aggregate warmth. Winter has played them, promising them perfect conditions and then turning the temperature up one degree. This is a battlefield, covered with the deaths of dreams these droplets had from sky to earth floor, and until the sky sucks them back up, that death stifles the air.
But I know now. I understand how brain chemistry works, and I know that no matter what form it finds itself in, water is still water. I will survive the winters I face, if only because I know that when the cold sweeps away from this hemisphere, I will melt and I will still be myself. Even as I feel myself packed in, suffocated by myself, I hold firm to the realization that maybe in another time, I will flow freely. Maybe I fell to this earth with the intent of striking the world with my crystalline beauty, but I will evolve and adjust, and nourish the earth when winter makes its departure, or drip from the lips of a loved one, or… hell, if all I do is survive, I will survive.
I see you, winter. You came for the trees and the flowers, and you sent the beasts of the land to their caves. You lured the snowflakes to their demise. But you won't get me, winter. You won't get me.
Sammi Leigh Melville lives in Harrisburg, PA with her two cats, Charlie and Loren. She is the author of the young adult fantasy book, The Fields, writes film reviews for The Burg, and has written and directed several short films through her production company, Screaming Pictures. She attempts to work storytelling into every aspect of her life (except for the cats. Okay, maybe she tells stories to her cats).