Frozen Reflection

The windowpane was cold against her nose. Her breaths puffed against the glass and the condensation caught and froze. Outside the snow piled deeper and deeper with each passing moment. She drew a finger through the newly formed frost. Please. She mouthed the word as she spelled it out.

She pressed her forehead to the pane and her hands on either side of the word. For a moment all she felt was the chill of the glass and then slowly she felt the soft touch of icy fingers brushing tentatively against hers. She pushed through the glass and clasped hands with her reflection.

And then her reflection was upon her. A tangle of frozen limbs as they toppled over.

“You’re so cold.”

The reflection remained silent as she took in the room where only the slightest attempt at Christmas cheer had been attempted. A four foot plastic tree with a single strand of lights and a smattering of ornaments—all eclectic and impersonal. The single lonely gift beneath it. A stocking hung empty off a hook on the wall.

She gently pushed her reflection away from her as the whistle of the kettle pierced the air. “Come, I made dinner.” She let her reflection into the kitchen where the tiny dinette was set with two place settings. “Hot cocoa okay? Or do you want tea? Or coffee? You’re so cold.” She didn’t wait for a response before pulling down to mugs and measuring out two heaping spoonfuls of cocoa powder into them both. She topped off the steaming cups with whipped cream. “Sit sit. You must be starving.”

She kept up the chatter for them both, not commenting on the way her reflection only mimicked the motions of her eating, that no matter how many times she stabbed the chicken breast with the fork, it remained on the plate.

“I wasn’t supposed to be alone today, you know.” Dinner was long cleared away and a bottle of wine sat open between them. She was on her second generous helping. “Then the snow started up. Not just here, but… everywhere.”

“Who cancels flights on Christmas Eve?” She topped off her glass with the remainder of the bottle. “If there ever was a flight.” She stared at her reflection.

A second bottle joined them on the table. “I never received an itinerary. Just a text this morning. Hey babe, flight was delayed. Then a few hours later. Looks like they canceled it. Nothing until tomorrow night.” She pushed her glass away from her and laid her head on the table. “Well it’s tomorrow night and still.” She let out a wet sigh. “I delayed Christmas for him.” She thumbed her phone, pulling up the text, holding it out to her reflection. “More delays. I told him not to bother.” The phone dropped to the table with a harsh thud. “He just said okay. Who does that?”

She reached across the table, meeting the icy fingers of her reflection. “You’re still so cold.”

Her reflection’s hand trembled in her grasp. Her lips formed a caricature of a smile. And then she shattered into a million pieces as the doorbell rang.

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

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