Fifteen minutes late.
I can still feel the burn in my legs as I hurried to meet you, mincing over uneven ridges of ice, and running where bare pavement would allow. The pond, a short mile down the road from our winding driveway, seemed to perpetually recede into the distance.
You were desperate to learn. Romanced by my own exhilarating descriptions of gliding on the ice-something akin to flying, in my experience-you were eager for the benefit of my instruction. And I admit I liked having you look up to me. So I handed you a pair of skates, borrowed from my best friend Bryony, and I made you a big-sister promise.
If the ice is sound, I’ll teach you tomorrow, at three.
You must have grown restless, waiting for me. The siren ice was calling, and you didn’t care enough about the virtue of patience.
Dusk is falling. Skate laces tied, I hover tentatively near the frozen water’s edge, the clear glacial night air slowly drilling through my coat, deep into my bones. My jeweled eyes search for a dark spot on the frosty surface of the pond-a portal to crystal blue depths where I imagine with both dread, and hope, I might find your watery ghost.
I take the plunge. Step onto the ice. I know, with cold clarity, that I have no other choice. The phantom of guilt will haunt me as long as I am alive.
Temperatures are expected to dip sharply tonight-down into single digits.
Perfect skating weather.