Photo by Pavel Lozovikov
The Darkness Of Snow
By Icky Bob Crane
Another flurry of snow battered outside. Inside the lodge, the muted thuds against the window added to the hum of the guests, clad in alpine sweaters, huddling in groups sipping their warm evening drinks. The main topic of conversation regarded the white powder blanketing the hillsides for their next day’s pleasure.
Yuki took another sip of hot buttered rum. She stared at Gerald, the man she’d chosen for this portion of her life. Her eyes wandered from the man sitting next to her, to a different gentleman across the room.
The man sat alone staring at the fire. The orange glow dully reflected in his rheumy eyes, casting deep shadows in the lines of his face.
Yuki reckoned him to be in his late seventies, perhaps eighty. It was sometimes hard to tell with occidentals. A clutch of younger men and women buzzed around him, no doubt his loving children and grandchildren. They had brought him to the ski lodge as part of a family gathering, perhaps to celebrate an important life event. It did not matter what their story had been; now there was simply a sad old man surrounded by a raucous crowd of descendants who seemed oblivious about how tired he was of life.
And tired he was, that much Yuki knew. In all her years, she had seen the eyes of those who grew weary of looking upon the sun. It was the way of this world that life only held so many days worth living, and when one had exhausted those days, the rest were meaningless and drab.
She smiled. Yes, this old man would find his rest tonight, and she too would have what she needed. The old man seemed to sense her gaze and looked at her. Yuki could not be certain how well he could see her, but she nodded respectfully toward him. Then she opened her mouth ever so slightly.
To anyone watching, the gesture might have appeared nothing more than a woman expressing surprise, or perhaps gasping in wonder at a private thought. Even if human senses could perceive the snaking band of cold air, winding from her open mouth to softly part the old man’s lips and force its way deep into his lungs, she doubted anyone would be looking in his direction, occupied with their perfect vacation.
The twisting column of frigid air probed throughout the man’s weakly struggling chest, drawing out every drop of precious breath and heat before coiling back across the room to retreat behind Yuki’s lips, which shut with a satisfied smile. Warmth coursed through her body. That would hold her—for a while.
The old man softly slumped back against the comfortable couch, his eyes no longer seeing the fire. Around him, his offspring continued to laugh and drink and enjoy their company. Yuki envied them their sense of family and the bonds it provided.
Gerald looked up from his device. He told her what he’d just read there. She smiled at him and feigned interest. Yuki liked Gerald; she hoped that he would soon be ready to commit to a long-term relationship, but he could drone on about the most inane matters.
Yuki suggested they retire to their suite. It was distasteful to be in the room when bodies were discovered. Better they should depart, because soon there would be tears, recriminations and guilt.
Outside in the night, the snow fell burying the world in a blanket of soft white powder.
Tomorrow there would be a fine day of skiing.
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