Creative Writing

Arktos ~ Short Fiction

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Our ship went down. It was a long journey; we had almost made it to our destination, but fell short a few hundred miles to the North. The flying ship snapped in two upon impact with the ground. My husband died, leaving me and my little boy to find our way alone. We were expected to arrive at a family members home that day. They were all waiting for us. With no food or drink, and the navigational tools destroyed, I watched the sun move for a while to figure our location. (This being the land of the Far North, I knew I could not wait for the stars to guide me – I was told that sometimes the sun never sets.) I gave my boy my breast to fill his belly, dressed us in all the garments we had, and set out on foot across the tundra. I expected a search team would be sent right away, and discover us.

I walked for miles with my child on my hip, afraid to stop for too long, else I would lose the will to go on. When I felt the strength draining from me I would look into his azure eyes and know he must be delivered to his destiny – to take his place in our family.

I walked at least two days, maybe longer. Clouds turned the sky to a haze, the dimmed sun barely moved and no stars were visible, time was hard to gauge in this strange land. Stopping only to suckle my baby and clean him, I held the hope we would be seen, and rescued. I knew I could not go on much further.

As I scanned the horizon for any sign, I saw there was water ahead. To the left and to the right of us was water also. Deep blue waves were lapping at the ice on three sides of us. I realized in a panic the mistake I had made; there was no longer land underneath us, I was walking on an ice shelf. I turned to the direction I came from, but there was only white everywhere. I do not know how far out we were- it could have been miles. I began retracing my steps as quickly as I could go. My baby, sensing the fear in me, began to fuss and cry. I tried to calm him with his favorite gentle song, but he would not be consoled.

I stopped for a moment to calm myself, and set him in the snow at my feet. I had hoped the touch of the cold snow on his hands would distract him for a moment. It did; he curiously buried his hands then pulled them out again to taste the ice. He giggled at his new game, and looked up at me with chubby red cheeks and smiling eyes the color of the ocean surrounding us.

Suddenly I heard a loud crack, and the ice shifted beneath my feet. In a second it gave way, dropping me strait down into a hole four feet deeper than I was tall. He screamed and cried for me and I tried to sooth him with a calm voice. I immediately began moving snow with my hands from one side of the hole to the other, trying to make a slope I could climb to the surface. His little pink hand reaching out to me from above, his terrified screams penetrating into my heart, over and over. I climbed the slope, reaching, reaching, my fingertips inches away from my precious child’s. The ice gave way again. Down, down, down I slid. Those eyes, that face, that tuft of blonde hair moving further and further away from me as I am sucked into the water below.

When I stopped falling, I was deep inside the ocean, darkness all around me. I could feel the earth’s pulse, its rhythm, resonating through me. I started to move up again, and could see the ice shelf above me coming closer. I started searching for the opening I fell through, but could not see it. Still I moved steadily to the surface of the water. I thought I would hit the ice and suffocate right there but I moved right through it. I stopped a few feet above the snow, near where my baby was. His face was bright red and wet with tears, still looking for me in the hole. I called his name, I said, “Look! Mama’s right here!” But, he could not hear me. I tried to move closer to him, but I could not move at all. I called his name louder, trying to make him hear me over his screams, but his eyes would not move from that hole. I felt I wasn’t making a sound.

A man appeared to my right, walking toward me, perfectly calm, his eyes fixed on me. I shouted, “My baby needs help!” He was not alarmed, and gave my boy not a glance. He said to me, “It’s time to go.” I cried from my heart, “I have to get my baby!” He said, “Look, your baby will come, too.” I looked at my precious child, lying there still, in the snow, eyes closed, his little arm still reaching into the hole for me. I heard him sigh the way babies do after a hard cry, and his face turned from pink to pale before my eyes. The shape of a woman appeared on the horizon, her eyes fixed on him, unwavering. The man took my hand and led me away.

 

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