(The Creative Corner is where students can display original works of writing (either short stories or poems) to share with the ENC community.)
The juiciest slice of meat hung on a makeshift hook twirling slowly, entrancing the frost bitten couple.
“Go on Caleb, you eat it this time. I’ll survive.”
He looked at her with dead eyes, making no sudden movement. She smiles a crooked smile, and reaches for his hand.
While hiking the crystal blue ice shards of the mountain seemed near impossible, the couple set forth with the childish, naïve enthusiasm newlyweds so often hold.
They began, twill wrapped snow shoes leaving chessboard prints in the fresh powder and clouds of laughter and hot air leaving their lips.
The first week was incredibly smooth and pre-determined. Packaged meals and boiled snow weighed their stomachs while adventure flitted through their hearts and the hot press of fresh matching tattoos warmed their bones.
The falling snow tinkered like raindrops upon the plastic slope of the tent. With feet intertwined beneath a feather soft sleeping bag, the couple slept.
A grumble not unlike the deep call of Grendel thrashed through the tent and down the mountain.
“Avalanche!” shrieked the team leader into the night air, just as the woman opened her eyes wide enough to see a swirling mass of sheets and camping packs.
She awakes, hours/days/years later, the taste of blood in her mouth overshadowed by a raw agony in her chest. Alas, there he is. Her husband, lying soundly asleep in the snow littered tent, a swirling halo of red covering his dusty brown curls. She runs to him, reaching her blood soaked hands to caress his face, softening his frozen lips with her tears.
With another blink, he is healed. He walks forth, kissing her slowly above the corner of her lips.
“I love you, Sarah.”
She loses the world. She wakes with blue tinged fingers and a lone oxygen tank.
The cold has reached the couple, seeping into their bones and soaking through their flesh. There are small icicles in their meat that no amount of fire can seem to be rid of. She crouches down in the small cave, looking back and forth between her husband propped gently up against the wall and the bear frozen in fear.
The cold has reached her mind now; she can feel liquid ice pervading the cracks in her brain.
A guttural growl escapes her lips as she launches herself toward them, and pierces the skin with a homemade sharp sided spear. Hours later, as her husband stretches out along the cold cavern floor with a peaceful expression she fastens her newfound layer of protection over her, draped like the finest muslin cape.
She will not be cold tonight.
She hums softly, adding sticks to the fire, roasting the intricately carved meat while catching her husband’s eyes every few moments.
“I love you, Caleb.”
“Sarah!” echoes a yell from deep across the snowy tundra. Crawling across the cave on all fours she sniffs out the potential threat, only to be met with the relieved tears of her husband’s brother Jay.
“God, I can’t believe we found you! After a year, and you two have survived. We’ve searched all across this mountain once the rangers found your destroyed campsite. But… where is Caleb? And what are you wear-”
At once he spots the body, fully skinned and limbs departed from their original home. Bites of meat are ripped from the snow tinged rotting flesh. The stomach has been fileted and butterflied, with jars of the salt-brined meat surround her husband like a perverse halo.
The head has been preserved, with open eyes staring blankly into their makeshift home.
“What did you do!” Jay screams, his stomach already emptying its’ contents over a bear skin rug.
She looked at him, with wild eyes and a crooked grin. A charred chunk of meat, wrapped by a strip of skin marked with the black ink shape of an ice pick hangs loosely from her mouth.
“I kept myself alive.”
– Inspired by Joyce Carol Oates’ short story, “The Widow’s First Year”