From Twilight to TwilightbyMetrotech©
I stared up at the swaying ocean of ice, that night. That was the night the winter stole the voice from my throat and turned it into the howling wind and the creaking trees and the crystalline clatter of frozen snow. As my life poured out onto the white ground beneath the trees, the low of field clouds that churned above descended to blanket my vision with whiteness and fill the world with racing, stinging snow.
I never imagined there was much blood inside me. I have always cleaned and bandaged my scratches and bruises fearfully, because the sight of blood so terrified me. Something so precious should never be spilt on the ground and lost. I have always cringed from the cuts my clumsy knife inflicted on my fingers when I scaled fish, or the scrapes on my knees when I tripped and fell. I was such a silly girl. I was new to this rugged life. Lying in the snow beneath the trees, my blood, more than I imagined existed in all the world, gushed out of me like milk from an upturned bucket.
I had tried to mend a hole in Misha's great fur coat, once. I struggled determinedly against the impenetrable material, gritting my teeth as I forced the thick needle in to make my stitches. But, my determination quickly outstripped my skill. The needle buried itself in my palm, nailing the fabric to my hand. Misha was so patient and calm, letting me shriek and wail like an infant while he mended my hand. It did not hurt as badly as I imagined, but the sight of my red blood running down my arm and dripping onto the floor left me huffing and panting, my lungs empty, my eyes wide until I tore them away and shut them tight.
Misha was used to blood. There was always so much of it when he caught fish, or slaughtered animals. I could never stand it. When I watched him chop the head from Vili, the fat, brown hen who had laid so many eggs when she was younger, I nearly fainted. Blood erupted from her neck like syrup from a fountain, spattering onto the ground and staining her feathers. Her headless body jerked and leapt from his hands and thrashed across the yard, spewing blood everywhere until it stumbled and fell into a convulsing heap. Her blood stuck to my fingers like soot when I plucked her that afternoon.
For nights after that day, nightmares chased me in my sleep. All the water in the house curdled in my hands and turned heavy and red. Dark liquid seeped under the doors and vomited from the pitchers where we melted snow to drink. The smell was beyond imagination. I screamed and tried to hide from the slowly creeping tide, but it hunted me. I clung to Misha, trembling with terror, when I woke. My blood pooled in a slowly creeping tide in the snow, that night beneath the trees, leaping out with each clench of my weakening heart. If only I were a crudely-made animal, like Vili! I would thrash and flail madly! I would leap and jerk with all my strength to flee the death that closed its icy fingers around me! But, my limbs had lost their strength to carry me. My voice had lost its power to scream. I could only stare up at the sky as the heavens buried me. The swirling flakes pressed me down, filling my mouth and clouding my eyes, forcing out my life through the wound in my side.
The terror, all the panic and desperation, I had felt when she appeared bled from my heart with my draining blood. I felt nothing so vigorous as panic or desperation, anymore. Her black, lifeless eyes locked with mine and her beautiful, dead face filled my vision again.
I might have admired her face, if not for her eyes. I might have been jealous of her high cheekbones, and her gently sloped nose. My cheek's bones were still buried under baby fat, and not even a year and a half of frontier living could excavate them. I would have squeezed Misha's hand protectively if we ever passed her on a road, or met in the General Store. I would have despaired for my plain, childish inelegance. I would have hastily called his attention to some bird flying overhead, or some amusing spectacle to distract his gaze from her cheeks, her nose, her haughtily arched lips, If not for her horrible eyes. Her eyes destroyed any hope of humanity or warmth that might lie behind her beauty.
The pools of her eyes were dark grey pits of fetid water, wet and laced with black, writhing veins. They captured me and swallowed me whole as they loomed. My stomach lurched and I had to shut out the sight in horror.
Cracks laced her bluish skin beneath a glaze of ice, the tiny, white dolls my grandfather had bought from traders from the Far East. The moon and wind had long since bleached the glow from her bone white flesh, but she sparkled in the twilight, dusted with ice and snow. A stream of blood, still red, had frozen at her temple beneath black hair that leapt and danced the howling wind. Her eyes gleamed like the frozen surface of a swamp as they turned, sliding from one feature of my body to another. Her face drifted close to mine. She looked sad, almost, but I knew she could not possibly feel remorse for the evil she had done to me. She had murdered me. She made me cower inside my heart.
The ice glistening on her blue lips flexed and flowed like water with the movements of the still soft flesh beneath. She spoke to me, glittering like a dream, but no sound came. The howling wind snatched up her voice and hurled it away from my ears. Only the rushing of wind through trees and the clatter of ice on ice reached me through the storm raging around us. The sounds trembled in my ears in cascading patterns.
"We are puppets," they whispered. " We are lost."
I could still feel her cold breath drain the warmth from my face, however, and I shut my eyes even tighter. Her breath slid across my cheeks and down my chin to the tiny bit of exposed throat above my scarf and parka hood. If only my arms did not feel like lead weights! If only my legs would heed the primitive compulsions in my brain screaming at them to carry me far from here! What did this awful creature want with me? What had I done to deserve this?
Something wet and cold brushed my lip. My breath caught sharply. The branches and leaves tangled in her black hair brushed my cheeks, scratching and tickling me strangely. I did not feel the hard snowflakes strike my face, but I could not bear to open my eyes. I whimpered pathetically. The cold thing touched my mouth again, prickling me roughly. I heard her exhale deeply, as if she were panting. Her breath drifted against my face. Her hands slid along my legs, catching the laces of my boots and ruffling my furred leggings. The wetness touched my lips, again.
She licked me! Her disgusting tongue slid out and brushed my mouth. I could feel it! I pursed my lips in defiance, but the thought that she might actually try to put her cold, dead tongue inside my mouth horrified me to tears. She licked me again, like a dog begging for attention, and then nothing. Then, I felt her lips brush against my throat like feathers.
She stroked my pale skin beneath my heavy winter clothes with formless fingers that drifted through the fur and fabric like mist through trees. She tickled my skinny ribs, laid bare by the long winter. In a few months the ships would come to the village bringing fruits and vegetables and dried meats and nuts and other goods to keep our small frontier town alive. Misha and I would gather the seal pelts we had hunted and stored and sell them to buy more food and tools and supplies. There would be a new pillow, to replace the old one my father sent with me when I came to live here. There would be dried apple slices and raisins and sweet honey like melted gold. There would be flour for hearty bread, and ground meal for porridge. I would tremble like a child at Christmas, and chatter to Misha much too loudly about whether we should buy this or buy that. Misha is like a great, warm rock. I would skip up and down the rows of goods in utter ecstasy! I would babble on like such a fool, but he would only smile and kiss me.
On that night, we would have a merry feast and my skinny ribs and hips would fill out again. We would make love on the floor before the fireplace, just like before, and fall asleep in each other's arms. I only truly feel like a woman when we make love. I wanted so much to be grown up for Misha; a real wife. I wanted so much to split this child's body open, like a moth leaving a cocoon, and emerge full and voluptuous for him. I wanted so much... But, the dead thing in the forest breathed into my ear, frosting my hair with snow crystals and frightened my memories away.
She caressed the curves of my body with a lover's grace, squeezing my breasts and sending little chills through my heart. She brushed her fingers along my features, punctuating their trails with gentle little kisses, but I was passionless. How could this frozen corpse make me feel anything but terror? She smiled at my feeble gasping and leaned closer. I stared into the decaying swamps of her grey eyes, and shut mine again, for fear of being lost in them. In the darkness, she pressed her lips to mine, so soft and so cold that they made my heart ache to stop. She sucked my mouth and licked me and I sobbed weakly as she drew away. I looked up at her. Her long silvery lashes lowered and half closed, shielding me from her eyes and she curved her lips into words again.
"So small," the snow whispered. "So pretty. Like a bird."
My belly felt the sting of cold as my clothes left my body. The whirling snow struck my exposed flesh, piercing me like hard little needles. She leaned down and kissed my skin softly. Her lips chilled my flesh as they grazed the shallow curve that Misha's hands would trace in bed at night. Her icy fingers slid against my skin as she pulled down my leggings, my pants under them, and my private garments under them. Her hair brushed my thighs and her fingers softly touched my knee. The snow struck me and froze in pinpricks along my body, but it did not fall between my legs.
I could feel her gaze burning me. I shut my eyes as hard as I could to darken the world and cower in the shadows, but I could not close myself. I lay open, beneath her. I could not hide the place where the snow did not fall, the place where her head bowed.
She touched her face to my body and prayed to it. Her lips and tongue, delicate and cool beneath her slick ice, whispered things to my flesh that I had never imagined before. I tensed, recoiling from her, but her tender touches lured me. The fluttering of gentle creatures and warm intimacies I could scarcely conceive of swarmed inside me, reaching up with heated hands, pulling me back to the surface of myself. I tried to calm myself, but I trembled all over, flushing with the voluptuous warmth she brought to me like a patron god of hidden hungers and ancient longings.
I felt her all around me, pressing against my body like water. She blanketed me. I panted breathlessly inside her, moaning and gasping. She crawled along me, billowing outward in all directions. She pulled at me, drawing me closer, coiling around me, whispering in her voice of falling snow. Her tongue slid between my lips boldly as she kissed me. She pushed her fingers into my chest to pull open my ribcage like the covers of a book and kiss my glistening insides.
She held her palm to my desperately beating heart, smiling faintly. Her grey-black eyes glittered beneath half-lowered lids as she kissed me so sweetly. She lifted my knees from the ground and tilted my hips upward. Her lips met mine again. Delirium spun me. Softly, down between my legs, I felt her slenderness enter me.
My eyes stretched open wide. My breath stopped. She watched my face intently, almost mischievously. She paused at the entrance to my private core. The sensation was unmistakable. With evident delight, she ventured further, my body wetted by her attentions. My throat quivered at her advance; tiny chirps and whines escaping in fits and bursts until her thigh pressed against mine and she had filled me completely. She rested there, her mouth smiling and unsmiling, until my lungs burned and I took my first painful breath of her frigid air. She leaned forward, as if to kiss my lips, her face glowing and animated, and then pulled away again. Her hips slid back and she retreated slowly. I trembled at the sensation of being emptied and an irrational terror seized me that I would never be full again. I stared into her bottomless eyes but she smiled with her watery blue lips and kissed my cheek. As gently as ocean tides, she entered me again, and a feeling more delicious than all the sweetness in the world followed her.
Glittering ice danced around us, singing, whispering and teasing me. Her hips rocked between my thighs and she slipped into and out of me. My body greedily gobbled up the pleasures she offered and imprisoned me inside strange emotions. This wretched, dead creature! Had I gone insane? I was about to die! I lifted my hands and tried to touch her, but how could I dare to? I felt so foolish. My hands fell uselessly around her shoulders. The voices of snow coalesced and blew into my ear, "Once, a woman lay alone, dreaming of love, and Love came to her. His fingers of tenderness stroked her and curved around her heart and laid promises of every intimate delight on her tongue with sweetly candied lies."
My face flushed with furiously renewed life and I panted hungrily. She watched my face with a smile, delighting in my difficulty. She looked so controlled, but I felt her tremble against my body almost imperceptibly. She grasped my knees suddenly and wrapped her arms around them. She pulled me up to her and drove into me voraciously, drawing louder and louder cries from me. I wailed like an animal. I could not quiet myself! I grunted and gasped and made bizarre, unnatural sounds in the bottom of my throat as the writhing pleasures and passions twisted my voice to their satisfaction. The whirling snowflakes captured my sounds and reflected them back at me like a million tiny chimes.
"She was deceived," the snow hissed. "A single golden ring bound those fingers of love, and in a rage she called those to her to destroy that ring..."
Blood spewed from the gash in my side, matting my hair into a rug and soaking my coat to my skin, but I could not care. I cared for nothing but the unimaginable pleasure she gave me. I wanted more, I had to have more, but my approaching death hobbled me. I wanted to kiss her and clutch her! I wanted to squeeze and thrash like a wild beast, and beg her to give me more! My body screamed to give expression to the wonderment happening inside me, but all I could do was cling to her neck and cry.
"They took the Golden Ring to this place, bound and gagged, and they fed their hunger for her pale, white body. When they had taken all they could from her, they left the rest for Death. The Golden Ring despaired and died, but could not leave this place. It remained, trapped by deceit and grief, until it found a new finger to wear."
I felt hollow. My body grew impossibly large, like the great ships I used to watch from the shore. I lay inside myself, curled up, looking out through the windows of my eyes. I trembled, tormented by the heat burning between my legs. The only heat in my frozen, dying body scorched me, but I starved for more. I tried to grasp that flame for fear that I would die cold and tormented by hunger.
I gasped desperately. My mouth sought her mouth. She drowned me and devoured me. Stars flashed before my eyes and I panted weakly for air, but I could not turn my face away! My blood filled the forest like a great red lake, and we thrashed in it violently, spattering the trees and soaking our clothes.
My body tightened like a hunter's arm before throwing the lance to spear the fish. We pushed into each other frantically. My body felt so impossibly tight! And then, in a final maddening instant, I was thrown. I exploded into a hundred-million quivering pieces like a shattering glass, spilling out a feeling so sublime that I felt almost nauseated. I fell down, collapsing, crumbling, into warm, delicious silence.
The snow relented, and the wind finally died. I opened my eyes to a very different place than where I had closed them. The trees no longer lashed around me. The blood that had filled the forest was gone. The beautiful woman in the cloak of snow had vanished and left me I wondering if she had ever been there. My body was whole. I felt no pain at all.
Just across the clearing, however, lay a young woman staring up at the sky. I wondered if she was well, and I tried to rise to go to her, but my body felt as if it were made of lead. I watched the strange girl curl and pick herself up from the ground. She turned and looked at me sorrowfully and washed my mind with confusion. She looked just like me! I stared. How could she look just like me? I saw something in her eyes.
She was there.
"Forgive me," she said, her words sounding just like mine. "Please... This is not my fault! When I saw you... I couldn't stay here any longer."
I tried to speak, but the cruel winter stole the words from my throat and replaced them with the rushing of snow and the creaking of trees in the wind. Tears welled in her eyes, my eyes, and rolled down her pink cheeks. She hugged herself, pressing on a small tear at the waist of her brown seal fur parka.
"We are both sad puppets. I did no better than you, when I fell into this trap."
"I will pray for you," she whispered as she stepped back, shivering with fear. "I will pray for you like the woman who left me here prayed for me."
I thought of my beloved Misha, suddenly, waiting for me in our cottage beside the ocean, wracked with worry of what might have happened to me. I thought of this woman going to him wearing my face and my body. Would he touch her? Would he hold her in his arms? Would he kiss her on my lips?
A pain struck me. I clutched my belly with hands of ice and a filthy cauldron of grief and loathing born of generations began to churn inside. A savage lust awakened. My mouth watered for this pale girl wearing my skin. My cloak of snow swirled around me, billowing outward in all directions. My face glittered, dusted with ice and snow. I looked at her with new eyes, and she shrank away in fear.
"Forgive me," she whispered as she ran away in my stolen shape.
"Please, forgive me."