When most of think of winter, they think about infinitesimal, frosty flakes of snow decorating the earth in clusters of various sizes. And while the snow is, indeed, beautiful, I can’t help but think of the cold it brings. The frozen drops of rain falling down, some gracefully, others menacingly. Some leisurely floating in the air to show off their beauty, others only pelting one with blasts of gelidness. When I think of winter, it’s those harsh snowflakes that I think of the most, the ones that give me the shivers. Not just the thought of it, or the feeling of it, but the memories that come with it. Snow is cold, but there are some things that are colder than it that will chill me forever.
It happened years ago when I was in fourth grade. My friends, Spurthi and Maya, and I were outside for recess. The wind was howling, pushing little sparkles of snow and wisps of frosty coldness along with it. We walked close together, hands in our pockets, huddled together to stay warm. Yet I could feel the frigid air biting at me, aiming especially at my hands. I’d forgotten to bring my gloves. It was a mistake that seemed so minute back then, but what was, in the end, the cause of it all.
It was cold. Undeniably, unmistakably cold. Not just my hands; everything was freezing cold. My head, my face, my hands, my feet, my chest, everything. I huddled closer to my friends, I hugged myself, but the freezing air still penetrated through the warmth and continued nipping at me, like a dog fiercely chewing and ripping the last of meat left on a solid white bone.
“I’m c-cold,” I stuttered, shivering, not knowing what else I could do. I looked down at my hands: bare, uncovered, and numb. They were suffering the most from the cold air, which was snickering at me for forgetting to bring my gloves. I won’t forget them again. But the mistake had already been made.
Maya looked at me with sympathy; she’d forgotten her gloves also, but didn’t seem to be as cold as I was somehow. Spurthi, the smartest among us all, had remembered to bring hers. They were black on the palm and dark purple on the outside. “Here,” she offered, taking off her gloves and giving one to me and one to Maya. “You can give them back to me later.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, hesitantly touching the glove from her hand, not sure if I should take it just yet. Maya did the same. Yes, I was cold, and yes, I wanted to be warm… but would Spurthi really just give her gloves like that? Wasn’t she cold, too? I didn’t want her to suffer from the wicked cold the same way I was all because of my mistake of forgetting my gloves…
To my shock, however, Spurthi nodded confidently, ignoring the flakes of snow already littering her magenta glasses and wavy black hair. “I’m fine.”
She wouldn’t mind. She would be okay without them.
“Thanks!” Maya and I echoed, taking the gloves and cramming our fingers into the them, sighing with relief as we felt warmth encompass our hands. The malicious cold air finally stopped biting at me, like a dog who had finally realized that there was no meat left on the bone and it was best left alone.
We walked with a newly discovered energy. Winter, and the snow itself, became beautiful, I realized as I surveyed the snowflakes swirling around in the air around me. Maybe the cold hurt, but it was beautiful in its own way, hidden to me before.
We walked. Maybe we chatted or played some games as well, but that remains out of my memories. What I do remember, in the midst of the cold and the snow, was Spurthi’s abrupt gasp. Her hands flailing as she tried to balance herself, but she failed. She went falling,
just like the snow accumulating on her body in little white clusters. The air echoed the sound of her hands scraping the blacktop as she plunged downwards with a sickening thump.
Time stopped. I couldn’t move. I was frozen, like the white snowflakes on Spurthi’s black jacket.
It was Maya who broke the time freeze. “Spurthi? Are you okay?” she asked worriedly, bending down and offering a gloved hand to pull Spurthi back up on her feet.
Slowly, Spurthi stood up and looked down at herself, making sure she was alright. “Y-yeah. I-I think so.”
I couldn’t move. Flakes of snow fell, signaling that time had resumed, but I was frozen in place.
She was not okay.
I watched the crimson rivulets of blood flow unceasingly from her right hand, dripping faster than the snow was falling.
She was not okay.
I couldn’t move. I was frozen.
Maya spotted the bleeding wound, her face twisting into an expression of worry. “O-oh. You need a band-aid. I’ll go inside with you,” she offered, leading Spurthi towards a teacher for permission.
She was not okay.
I finally found the ability to move. I reached for Spurthi’s now snow-covered, black and purple glove covering my hand and yanked it off, giving it to its proper owner, as words suddenly formed in my mouth. “Here are your gloves.”
“You-you can keep them for now,” Spurthi dismissed absentmindedly, her mind evidently elsewhere. Then she and Maya headed toward the school doors.
I stood still, frozen in place once more, as they left.
She was not okay.
Yet I hadn’t done anything to help her.
I’d just stood there, frozen like the snow, watching Maya help her. Watching Maya pull her up. Watching Maya guide her inside.
I just stood there, watching.
Maybe I had been feeling cold… but towards Spurthi, I was colder than the snow.
How come little things can have such disastrous consequences?
If I had remembered to bring my gloves, allowing Spurthi to wear hers, they would’ve protected her from the scrapes and blood now embroidering her hand.
I could feel the wetness of tears starting to form in my eyes, but I ignored it, turning to the sprinkles of snow falling instead.
She would’ve been okay.
But I hadn’t. I’d forgotten to bring my gloves, something so small yet something that led to disastrous consequences. Because Spurthi was too kind to let me wear her gloves, everything led to her own injury. I took them and wore them, assuming she’d be okay. But she wasn’t. And instead of helping her out like a good friend, I’d just stood there, watching, like an enemy. Like the vicious cold wind whipping my scarf.
I’d just stood there. Watching. Frozen. Colder than the snow, no matter how beautiful it is. Because even the most beautiful things can be so cruel, so cold.