Your feet begin to get very cold.
You look down at them. Your toes are a deep pink from contact with the icy snow. You scrunch them up and unfurl them again, getting the blood flowing. You wiggle them, enjoying the sensation of the snow getting caught between them and falling off again. You smile to yourself, feeling completely like a kid.
You then realize something.
Your feet are bare.
If he’s going to have you ice skate, how is Jack expecting you to do so without any…well…skates?
“Here we go!” you hear Jack say. You direct your attention to him. He gets up and turns around, smiling wide, obviously wholly satisfied with himself. Staff in one hand, he’s holding something out to you using the thumb and first two fingers of the other. “All done!”
No way, you think.
You walk towards him to get a better look.
Your jaw drops. Your eyes weren’t playing tricks on you.
He’s proudly handing you a pair of ice skates. But these aren’t your usual ice skates. Instead of leather or some other typical shoe material, they’re made of what appears to be compacted snow held together by a thin layer of ice, making them glint in the late afternoon sun. They even have snow laces. There’s a thick layer of ice on the bottom of the shoes, and attached are blades made of pure, thin pieces of clear ice.
He wiggles them a little. They glitter. “C’mon,” he tells you, looking down at the skates and then back at you. “Try them on!”
Skeptical, you take them from him and sit down in the snow at the edge of the lake. He leans on his staff, one leg crossed over the other, and excitedly watches you slip on the skates.
They behave like normal skates, the only difference being that it feels like you’re sticking your foot in an ice tray. You’re able to put them on and lace them up comfortably without them breaking. You sit and admire them for a few seconds, then look back up at Jack.
“They’re wonderful,” you tell him, awestruck.
“They fit?” he asks as he stands up straight.
You nod. “Perfectly.” How did he manage to guess your shoe size exactly?
“Great!” He sounds relieved. He walks in front of you, standing on the lake, and holds out his hand to help you up.
You take it and stand, extremely scared that the fragile-looking blades will break under your weight. You stare down at your feet, just waiting to hear a fateful crack.
Needless to say, they hold up.
You look from your feet to Jack and back again, short bursts of laughter finding their way out of you.
Still smiling a little, you give Jack a questioning look.
He shakes his head. “Won’t melt, either.” He lets go, takes a few steps back and winks. “Take good care of them, they’re the only ones the designer made.”
“Don’t worry,” you reassure him. “I will.”
You shoot off, not needing to take time to get used to the frozen surface. Ice skating to you is like swimming is to a fish. Still, you take a few laps around the lake before trying anything fancy.
Jack is just standing in the middle, watching you as you skate. He’s positively beaming.
The skates run smoother than any other skates that you’ve worn before, boosting your confidence in your skills. You decide to show off a little.
Going at a fairly fast pace, you turn around and begin going backwards. After picking up a bit more speed, you leap into the air, completing and perfectly landing a 360.
Jack cheers and claps, making you smile even wider.
You close your eyes, enjoying the wind whipping at your face as you skate. You twist, turn, and spin, completely forgetting about everything else. It’s just you, the lake, and the beautiful snowy scenery.
By the time you start feeling tired, the sun has long ago set and the moon risen high into the night sky, stars twinkling and illuminating the lake’s surface. You skate to the middle and look up, taking it all in.
You close your eyes and breathe in deeply, taking in the crisp, clear night air.
You open your eyes back up. The best season at its best.
You then remember that you wanted to thank someone for Winter.
And now you know exactly who to express those sentiments to.
You look around for him. “Hey, Jack!” you call out.
No response. Again.
You put your hands on your hips, continuing to look around as you. Where could he have gone off to this time?
“Hey, up here!” you hear him finally call back. You look to your right to see Jack Frost floating down from a high tree branch. He meets you where you stand.
You nod. “I just wanted to thank you.”
He holds up his hand. “Ah, don’t worry about it. It’s just a couple of skates.”
“No, not that, though I am thankful for these as well,” you say, shaking your head. You look right into his eyes. “I wanted to thank you for Winter.”
He raises his eyebrows, surprised. “O-oh!” His face begins to turn red and he looks away, putting his left hand behind his head. “No problem! I guess…”
You can’t help but giggle at his embarrassment.
“You know, that’s what made me take notice of you,” he says, the blush leaving his face. He looks back at you.
It’s your turn to be surprised. “Huh?” you manage to blurt out.
“The first time I saw you, I was just passing by, and you were running out into the first snow. I’ve never seen anyone love Winter as much as you, so I took an interest and stuck around. I had the smallest hope that maybe, just maybe, I could get you to believe in me just enough. I was playing with the kids the second day when you came out.” He grins, slinging his staff along his shoulders and hooking his arms around it. “I couldn’t very well have what is possibly my only chance at being seen walk away so easily, so I worked a little magic.”
At first, you have no idea what he’s talking about. But then…
“You’re the one who threw that snowball!” you exclaim.
He chuckles, raising up his hand momentarily. “Guilty as charged. When I first spoke to you, wondering why you were leaving so soon, I didn’t expect you to turn around. I thought that maybe you had heard someone else call your name or you had forgotten something. I never once thought that you could actually hear me. You never once looked at me or anything, no matter what trick I tried, so I thought that all my efforts were useless.” He looks at you accusatorily. “Now I know otherwise. You were just ignoring me and thinking I was some hallucination!”
“I’m sorry!” you apologize. “It’s not every day that a myth turns out to be real.”
He laughs. “No need to get all defensive! I’m just kidding around. To tell you the truth, I have my own lie to own up to.”
“And what may that be?” you ask him, slightly irritated.
“That soup would have just turned cold if I had touched it or the spoon, not frozen solid,” he reveals, a sincerely apologetic look on his face. “Cold soup is just so…And I don’t really eat anyway…”
At first, you’re infuriated. But you quickly calm down. Cold soup is pretty gross. “Eh, no worries,” you tell him. He smiles, a burden visibly lifted off of his shoulders.
You yawn. After a day of adventure, you’re pretty tuckered out.
He puts his staff out horizontally and sits on it, floating a couple of inches above the lake. He pats next to him, indicating for you to take a seat.
“C’mon, let’s get you home.”
You nod and take a seat beside him, feeling like a witch on a broomstick.
The wind underneath you, the two of you lift up and out of the clearing. You make a heading back towards your house, Jack in front of you.
You look back at the clearing as it disappears behind you, hoping that you’ll be able to visit again soon.
Too tired to stay awake, you lean your head on Jack’s back and close your eyes.
The weightless feeling of flight and his steady heartbeat eventually lulls you to sleep.