The Telling Room: 'Wild Ice'
Every Friday this summer, we're featuring the work of young writers in partnership with the Telling Room In Portland. This week's entry is "Wild Ice," by Grace Connolly.
Kira sat on her window seat facing the lake, reading a copy of Vogue commandeered from her mother. Brown cardboard boxes secured with packing tape were strewn about her bedroom. Each had her name on it and her new address. She would miss this house, its small pink kitchen and its big front lawn surrounded by snooping neighbors who seemed to have nothing better to do than to stick their unusually long necks over the fence to see how the begonias were doing. But most of all, she would miss the lake.
The lake was her refuge. She would seek relief on hot days in its cool embrace and spend her days lounging on the sandy bank, one of her tabloids in hand, blocking out the world. When she swam in the murky depths, it felt like the water was alive. Kira's feet danced along the mud-caked bottom, stirring up sand and leaves and secrets. The secrets of her predecessors floated in the water like dead flies and discarded soda cans. They blended with the water, became the water and caressed Kira's body, wrapping her in a safe shield of thoughts and feelings, sharing with her a thousand private moments.
But now she wasn't in the lake stirring up secrets and feeling alive-she was in her room, packing up her belongings, moving to an apartment in a city she didn't want to go to, with an aunt she barely knew. Mom and Dad "just needed to sort some stuff out." She stood up. Stretching, she yawned and cracked her back. Not packing really tired her out. She started down the white painted wood stairs on her way to the kitchen.
"Kiiira," a voice whispered, scraping the inside of her ears and sending a shiver down her spine. She looked around for the source but saw only the vacant ground floor. All of her mom's little knick-knacks were packed into boxes turning the once cozy living space into a skeleton. The vile taste of hurt, fear, and sadness bubbled up her throat but she quickly swallowed it back down.
"No," she scolded herself. It doesn't matter. You don't care. There's nothing you can do." She kept walking, her cushioned footfalls echoing dully against the empty room. "Kira. Kira. Kira," the voice continued, making her heart beat a million miles a second. Kira's eyes drifted to the glass sliding doors and out toward the lake.
She walked cautiously over to the door and pressed her nose against the glass, her breath fogging it up. Something was moving. Kira pushed open the door and cold air punched her in the face. She drew a sharp intake of breath and bowed out onto the used-to-be-green grass. Her feet, clad only in lime green socks, moved up and down trying to stay warm against the cold New England winter.
"Kiiirrily," it said again, using her full name this time. The voice was cold and creepy, but also riddled with fear and the stale sound of betrayal. It slunk dejectedly over the small hill separating the house from the lake, her lake. A violent shiver struck Kira, and she wrapped her purple cardigan tighter around her shoulders. "What is this?" she asked herself.
"Why are you doing this?" she yelled, her sharp voice cutting through the wind. "Why now?"
The wind stopped, and for a split second, Kira's world was silent. Then the voice erupted with the vigor of a thousand serpents screaming in unison. "Kira! Kira! Kira!" The screeching made her teeth ache.
Kira looked up. The lake was boiling. The water undulated like a pit of writhing snakes. When the sloshing liquid hit the frigid air it turned into ice-crazy, beautiful, wild ice. It pushed itself over the tall bank where Kira had spent many a day lounging in the sun and crawled up the side of the lawn whispering, "Kiiira," pain in each syllable. Tears welled up in her eyes and she tried to blink them away.
"I-I can't!" She gasped, tears staining her face. "It's not my fault! What do you want me to do?"
Kira backed up, not turning away from the ice until she was pressed up against the door. The ice followed, creeping up the little hill, pushing slowly but surely toward Kira's house and inevitably to her. It crawled up the door, sealing it in place and secured around her hand, freezing Kira in place. Dread pulsated through her veins. "Please!" she whimpered. "Why are you doing this? What do you want me to do?" Hot tears dripped onto the ice, making a hisss on contact. "Kiiira, Kiiira, Kiiira-stay."
The original full length version of "Wild Ice" by Grace Connolly, 14, is featured in the most recent anthology of the Telling Room in Portland, a non-profit writing center dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural story tellers.