:Short Story 1 "ICED"

*Copyrights belong to Laura Mártires

Everything was white. Not bright, luminescent white, but the sort of sad, vast pallid color that echoes shadows only in our minds.

We walked with no sense of purpose, with the frozen landscape as our only companion. In that silent setting the tranquil whispering of the wind seemed louder than any futile chitchat over a coffee table. Scattered thoughts about recent events went quickly through my mind intertwined with the immense fear of not surviving this journey.

Pete was right. I should have never invested all my savings in this ridiculous search for the unknown…but what are you suppose to do when you reach a time in life when nothing seems to thrill you anymore. It’s different when you are young. Your desires are achievable with a minimum effort. A trip to Sri Lanka, skydiving, a pair of shoes, to get married, and so on…after a certain stage you run out of things to do, things to wish for, and the willingness to search for them vanishes progressively.

I can’t recall when things got to this point. I remember clearly when I was about five, the excitement of my first school day, the anxious goodbye to my mother and letting her hand go to run up the stairs of the front courtyard. Her eyes sparkled with happiness while witnessing my first big step into the grownup world and I could feel a speck of fear in her overall body language. Probably she realized I no longer belonged to her only.

In me, a turmoil of feelings and the adrenaline of going into unknown territory had settled. From then on, my whole life was spent trying to replicate that moment, an ephemeral piece of time that was to become my curse as I grew up. From that flash of a second I knew life would be full of opposite forces pulling me from one side to another without ever letting go. I had no idea where I belonged to. And the world was mine.

After that the melancholy of loosing something would always be followed by the thrill of gaining something bigger, more exciting and more rewarding, even if momentanously.

I understood that happiness was an impossible dream, and yet I was willing to pursuit it with all my strength, until today.

The walk was long and the icy wind was finally catching up with us. Without food and some ice as water the chances of finding shelter, or somebody that could help us were diminishing minute by minute. Charlotte, a Belgium research student, seemed to be loosing it as she started crying suddenly breaking the stillness of our quiet journey. We stopped for a while, tried to reassure her and when I finally opened my eyes and looked around I was overwhelmed by the arctic scene and its immensity. It was probably one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen and if it wasn’t for the fear of collapsing in this abandoned part of the world, I would have felt a greater peace than at any other time of my life. The horizon stretched all around me and the ice extended for miles until it blurred with the sky in a grayish blue color.

Besides us there was no sign of life. Everything that I took for granted in the “civilized” world seemed too far to even exist anymore and as we rested my body felt the incredible tiredness I was trying to suppress for more than eight hours.

Are you ok?, asked Junior with a horrified look on his face. Yes, I think so, I replied quickly. Any idea of where we are heading to?

If we walk against the sunset we might find the shore in a couple of hours, he answered unsure of himself.

Junior was our Brazilian guide, and unfortunately the guy that led us to this situation… “Trust me, it will be the experience of a lifetime!”, “ Noooo, no need for fancy equipment, we will just cross a couple of miles and camp in the middle of nowhere!”, “Its completely safe!”, crap…when your supplies are not enough and your navigation system cracks up “in the middle of nowhere”, I say you’re in trouble…

What if we don’t find the shore?, I asked.

Don’t be negative, it won’t lead us anywhere. Lets get going people!- he replied in his Portuguese accent.

So we kept going. My feet were sore and my nostrils were full of tiny bits of ice making it hard to breathe.

I remembered the warm lemon tea with honey that Pete used to make when I felt sick. He took care of me until the end. Even when I was a cold-hearted bitch he was always there for me. Not anymore. Not here.

We met when I was 32 and bored with men. He was five years younger and had this cheeky look that irritated me. It was winter and I dropped my gloves on the floor of the restaurant…sort of a cheesy start…but don’t all love stories start like that? The good ones at least.

Carefull!!- screamed Sebastian as Charlotte dropped her heavy body in front of me.- Shit…

Is she breathing?

Lift her up, we need to keep her warm!.

She won’t be able to continue, her legs....

We can’t stay here…we’ll all die by tonight!

I’ll stay with her, said Sebastian a bit unsure.

Are you positive? I asked, frightened.

Yeah, go ahead with Junior and find help. Please.

The idea of going on with Junior alone was more petrifying than giving up and staying with those two. I didn’t trust him. At start he made an effort to be nice and went on and on about how he felt bad about the situation, bla, bla, bla…my mind was far away. Pete. I really missed him.

That day in the restaurant when he picked up my red leather gloves and handled them to me, I wasn’t sure if he was real…he always had this pale aura around him, like a ghost. At times he could enter a room and I wouldn’t hear a thing...it was scary in the beginning but with time I became addicted to that silence. He could calm me down even when I was in one of my enraged moods. Not that he was a mute person, by the contrary, he could always keep an interesting conversation and I would never get bored, it was just the way he moved, the way he looked at people. There was something utterly deep about his eyes and I could always know exactly what he meant by a simple look.

You don’t find this kind of people often; most people can spend their entire lives without meeting someone like that…truth is most people are too busy to notice.

I didn’t fall in love right away, but it didn’t take long. It came fast and furious as a hurricane and I was lost for the world, for everybody else. The world was Pete, and Pete was mine. We built our little bubble and everything was good. It was like we had this shield around us and nobody could touch or hurt us. I was terribly proud and happy for a long time. Happy for obvious reasons and proud because I couldn’t believe I was to be one of the chosen ones. One of those who are lucky enough to be touched by the magic of true love. Until then I didn’t consider myself truly worthy of it. For a while I stopped searching for the things that gave sense to my life. There was no adventure, no trip, no new gadget or knowledge that could turn me on like him. For a while I was truly blessed.

At dusk the landscape seemed to warm up but only in our eyes. The snow was bathed with the orange sunset color and a blanket of light filled the place. We walked silent, behind us, the final rays of sunlight and ahead, the uncertainty of a destination. It soon became dark but we didn’t use our flashlights- an emergency could come up. I felt weaker and hungry with every step

In the dark, Junior started babbling about his sister, and how he regretted not spending time with her, I made an effort to stay sober and replied from time to time with some sort of indecipherable nonsense. My heartbeat felt dim and walking was becoming impossible when suddenly there was a huge roar coming from above.

At first I thought it was a thunderstorm. The sky turned white with light and when the darkness didn’t come back I was sure it was no common phenomena. Above us electric strings shifted randomly and the roar dissipated into the air like nothing had ever happened. The wind blew stronger and I felt my body move with its strength. For instants I lost sight of Junior just to find him lying dead on the snow seconds after. I shouted for what seemed to be an eternity but no sound was coming from my mouth. It was as the air had thickened, the cold was gone and this humid, heavy feeling took over me until I passed out.

When I finally came back to myself most of my clothes and shoes were gone. Junior had vanished and although I was alone and weak I didn’t feel scared. When the fog started to dissipate and the sound of waves reached my ears I thought I was going to make it. But what was expecting me in the other side of this hazy wall was nothing I could ever imagine. The waves in the immense sea were almost solid, as jelly moving slowly forward into the shore. The sea was of a blue I had never seen, deep and dark turning turquoise at moments, ever changing and sparkling in its magnitude. The shore was a clear boundary between ground and water, and although the waves moved slowly towards the sky, they would never surpass a certain area, like there was an invisible wall protecting me from this colossal phenomenon. At that moment I knew this wasn’t an ordinary place, in fact I was sure I had died. I felt no hunger, no cold and no fear. I could remember things from my past clearly. I even remembered the day I broke my toe under the chair when I was three years old… I felt very alive and alert, but most of all I felt alone. Like I had just passed a door into infinity and nobody was there waiting for me. The emptiness in the landscape reflected the emptiness in me and the untouchable, jelly blue sea reminded me of my life and the things I had lost forever.

The last time had I met him was on the old bridge in a sunny winter afternoon. I sat waiting for him on the cold stone benches and looked far into the river and the way water flowed through the stones. Once in a while a fish would jump. I always liked this place because you could sit and watch the city. People going to work, couples kissing, the water and its reflections, the projection of the old facades into the water like proud witnesses of an ancient time… I could stay there for hours. Sometimes I would take a book just to pretend I was doing something…the bridge was a sort of catwalk in which people passed, looked, stopped and acted their own dramas, comedies without ever even noticing they were being watched. Or maybe they did sometimes, and changed their attitudes in order to take part in the drama.

Peter was thinner than last time. We had broken up just after I got out from the hospital. I ended it, although I loved him still. I could see his spirit receding gradually since I got the clinical depression diagnosis. He tried to be there for me, but even though he made me feel better for a while, I would end up falling into the darkness of my intricate thoughts and the guilt of not being able to follow him, trust him like before and that was just unbearable. My dependency on sleeping pills got worse and for both our sakes I had to end it. I broke his heart. And mine in the process.

I brought your book. – he said.


How have you been recently?

Not bad…not good. Same…

Want to walk?


We walked along the riverbank in the direction of the old warehouse district and the sunset was beautiful that day. The seagulls were busy flying low and their sounds filled me with a familiarity that relaxed my soul. For a while none of us said a word. He broke the silence.

I miss you.

I miss you as well.

Tell me you are not going on this silly trip of yours…

It’s settled…I think it will be good for me.

If you say so. Send me a postcard then.

I will.


Walking around in this new world I felt my strength coming back to me. Somehow this place had a regenerating effect and although I walked along icy, white streams, climbed icebergs and explored diamond shaped caves I didn’t manage to feel anything. Good or bad.

I didn’t manage to find a single soul. There was only me and the solitude was more pronounced by the lack of sound than by the dry landscape.

Alone there I reflected upon my choices, my life, my ambitions. The root of everything I had accomplished in my life was also the reason of all my losses. I had managed to make all the right and wrong choices at the same time and there was only one thing to regret.

Suddenly the hissing sound of the wind returned, I felt weaker and nauseous. I opened my eyes and I saw him, looking at me.

His deep eyes penetrated mine and I knew he loved me. I also knew I had made a mistake. I felt his cold hand on my hand. My body felt like a block of ice. Everything was white. Not bright, luminescent white, but the sort of sad, vast pallid color that echoes shadows only in our minds.

This time I broke the silence. Goodbye.

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