The Snow Maiden

It was the boy’s birthday. He was now, a teenager. He now had responsibilities and duties. In reality though, the boy had been shouldering adult responsibilities for a long time. He just hadn’t realized it yet.

“I’m leaving Mom”, he said. His Mom didn’t reply. She seldom talked since the boy’s father had left. His father had been an artist, a snow carver once. His creations caught the fancy of the entire town. And then his father left. Abandoning a 7-year-old son and wife, and heading off to pursue God-knows-what. But all that didn’t matter because it was the boy’s birthday today.

So he left, hoping to be pleasantly surprised, by his friends. His friends were important to him. Especially the girl. She studied with him at school. Her seat was diagonally in front of him. All the time the children paid attention to the teachers rambling, he looked at her. At the back of her head, rather. When she was asked the question by the teacher the boy would almost certainly miss the answer. Her nectar sweet voice filled him with joy. And when her answer was right as it invariably was she smiled ever so radiantly setting off butterflies in the boy’s stomach.

He finally reached his school crossing the large playground he never played in. He was never athletically inclined. He placed his palm upon the cold marble tiles, which lined the walls of his school. He loved how cool they felt against his hand. He walked towards classroom sliding his palm along the wall. He heard a familiar voice in his classroom. It was her, he thought! Just listening to the sound of her voice, was such a joy to him. He felt like standing there for a while just listening to her. “…So it’s that guys birthday today?” she said. “Is she talking about me”, the boy thought? The butterflies that had nested in his stomach the day he had seen her, started doing somersaults.  His palm, a little numb from touching the marble lining the walls of his school, inexplicably began sweating.

The boy hid further behind and waited, eavesdropping on them. “Yeah, do you know him?” Sean, a boy from his class said. “Not really, he’s like a retard or something right?” the girl said.

“Yeah that’s what Jim told me, he went retard once his Dad left”

“Whoa! That’s crazy, sure explains why he acts like such a nut though” the girl responded.

“Yeah, there was this time, we had to write an essay about our family or something, and the guy like, burst into tears, in front of the entire class, like a little kid” Shaun said.

“Such a wimp!” the girl said.

The boy didn’t listen anymore. He ran home, his brain a swirling mess of rage and disappointment. Somewhere along the way home, it began to snow. The boy didn’t notice, he was sobbing too hard.

The boy went snow sculpting that day. He used to come here with his father, when he was still around.  They used to sculpt life-size figurines in the snow. Emperors, Queens, Dragons and Knaves all came to life when his father was snow sculpting. The boy sat there and involuntarily began to sculpt, just the way his father had taught him to. He froze and etched and shaped till he created a girl entirely out of snow. She looked alive. And to the boy she probably was alive. The boy adorned her with a headdress made out of lilies, woven together using leaves and twigs.

That night the boy dreamed of the snow maiden. She came alive in his dream. They sat near the lake at the edge of the town, talking for what seemed like hours. What the boy didn’t realize was that, dreams have power.

The next day he visited the snow maiden again. She looked even more beautiful today. As he approached the snow maiden he began to hear someone humming, the boy half-remembered the tune from his childhood. He looked around but couldn’t see anyone. Must be his imagination, he thought. He neared the snow maiden, and saw to his absolute bewilderment, that she was the one humming the tune. She was alive.

“Are you the one who made me?” she asked.

“Wh-Wh-What are you?” the boy said.

“You had a dream right? Dreams have power, they sometimes give life, sometimes they take it, Dreams can give you purpose, and they can also take away your life’s purpose. Ironically the Dreamer has seldom any control over all this.”

The boy wasn’t really listening, faced with something his mind couldn’t reconcile with reality he was left with a single option. To reject reality as he saw it and run away.

He spent the entire night debating with himself. He really wanted to talk to her again, but he was scared. In the end he decided to approach her once more.

“Who are you?” he asked her.

“The Snow Maiden…, isn’t that what you called me?” she said.

“I did, but h-how do you know that”?

“You made me, as a result we are connected, when you poured all that emotion into making me, you opened up your mind to me”

“So can you read my mind then?” the boy said, a little scared now.

“No, more like, I can only really talk to you, and no one else.”

It was this statement that did it. He completely trusted her now. They kept talking. The boy kept visiting her for a few days past that, or was it weeks, the boy wasn’t really sure. Time seemed to flow differently around the Snow Maiden. The boy poured out his entire life’s story, omitting no detail. And she listened to it all. The snow maiden, after all was a great listener.

“I still cannot believe you are real” the boy said.

“That’s understandable. People often have difficulty in reconciling with the unknown. As there is Anubis who judges the dead, there is Yama who comes to collect your soul. As there are several religions around the world so there are, myths that encompass them. I am one but of the myths. I have life, because you need me. Your emotions fuel me. As long as you want me around I’ll stay right here…”

The snow maiden seemed to know the answer to all of the boy’s questions. He made it his ritual to visit her regularly. The boy soon told her of what had transpired on his birthday. How the girl he liked at school had really hurt him. It was here that things started changing.

“That girl, who is she to treat you that way? I am amazed by you constantly. Everyone around you mistreats you. They abuse you, emotionally. Yet you let them do it.”

“I’m just used to it, I guess” the boy said.

“And I wonder my dear, is that a good thing?” she said.

What transpired within the next week, has since become town legend. Everybody noticed a drastic change in the boy. He started getting into fights. When a boy made a wisecrack about his father, the boy kicked him in the face. He was sent home from school that day, with a letter explaining to his mother that this kind of behaviour wouldn’t be excused again.

The boy threw the letter into the dustbin outside his class, on his way home.

“So, you seem happier now-a-days” the Snow Maiden remarked one day.

“I am, in a sense.” the boy remarked. “Ever since I met you ive come to realise how worthless the people around me are, now that I treat them accordingly, I feel, urm, liberated?”

“And-?”

“And yet something seems missing” the boy said.

“It’s her. The girl from your class. The one you liked. She is the culprit here. Don’t you see, she was once everything to you, and yet she took that away from you. As long as she is still around you’ll will feel hollow, no matter how much I try to fix you, you’ll still be broken” the Snow Maiden said. At a later point in his life the boy would remark that the Snow Maiden’s voice was filled with vehemence when she said that.

“So what should I do?” the boy asked.

“Balance, my dear, balance. She took everything from you, it’ll only be appropriate if you took everything from her, yes?”

They had a camping trip the next day. The boy went. The girl, she was there. This part of his life is a bit hazy in the boy’s memory. All he remembers is that the girl, she fell down a small cliff. She was rushed to the hospital. No one knew how it had happened.

One thing everyone knew, the girl was the most surefooted of them all. If she had fallen, it was because someone or something had made her to.

The boy rushed to the Maiden as soon as he could. His mind, a swirling mess. He was shaking with rage.

“Y-You did this!” he accused.

“The fall? No my dear that was all you.” The Snow Maiden replied.

“What do you mean?!” he asked.

“Did you forget? I can only talk to you, influence you. I cannot control your actions. You know that, nor can I miraculously cause things to happen” the Snow Maiden replied.

The boy looked bewildered by now. “Don’t you remember dear? You pushed her. You did so because you wanted to, I merely helped you get there, but this is all you. And now, it’s just the two of us. That skank will probably die anytime now.” the Snow Maiden said.

The boy ran, once more afraid of the Maiden, as he should have been. He camped outside the hospital, only going home a few days later when he heard that the girl was quite okay now and would be discharged soon. He went home thereafter, stunned by the events that had unfolded during the past few weeks. He sat there thinking what to do. It was only a few days later he found a answer to that, it was then he decided to visit the Snow Maiden just once more.

“You’re back, I knew you’d be back. Did you finally realise that I did what I did for your-for our benefit?” she said.

“No, and I didn’t. I merely realised that you were wrong” the boy said.

“Where was I wrong, pray tell.” The Snow Maiden asked.

“When you said that, a Dreamer seldom has control over where his dreams take him. That’s wrong. The dreamer has a choice, he can choose, to wake up.”

With this sentence the boy left the Snow Maiden, ignoring her wild screams. Had he turned behind, he would have seen that the Snow, had finally begun to melt.

Far away, in a place where the sun never shines and the Snow reigns supreme. A Father lies in desperation. He had abandoned his family when the boy was but a kid, around seven the father thinks but he doesn’t really remember. He abandoned them because he made a sculpture, out of snow. And all he can think of now is “Why isn’t the Snow Maiden coming alive?”

But wait the tale isn’t over, aren’t you wondering who I am? Who is telling you this? Why the boy has no name and neither does the girl? I lost the ability to utter their names when the boy rejected me. I am not dead yet. I am let’s just say, waiting. Waiting for it to snow again and for another boy to make a Snow Maiden again.

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