The last beams of daylight illuminate the world in a final flash of orange before reluctantly disappearing, receding and descending behind the horizon along with the tired sun.
But even though the star is no longer visible to you, traces of light remain, turning the sky at the earth’s edge a vibrant red with arms that reach out into the night’s royal purple, giving the world a last work of daytime beauty so the sun is fondly remembered through the night. Smaller stars begin to show their white faces, taunting the crimson light as it attempts to touch them. Just as its fingers begin to brush the small white light of the closest star, though, it too is pulled down with the sun, and night tucks it away until morning.
The stars shine brighter as the sky turns darker, rejoicing at their triumph.
And then, the most anticipated moment of the night. The stars quiet down out of respect, turning their attention to the main event.
Slowly, shyly, the moon peeks up, showing the world a sliver of its forehead. Gaining confidence, it begins to rise into the sky, the deep navy blue of night bowing away at its dazzling light. Its immensity takes over the scenery, its kind, pale face beaming down upon the earth and its inhabitants. So it isn’t so overbearing and wanting the world to be able to see the beautiful stars neatly arranged in all of their carefully-chosen constellations, it shrinks down in size the higher it rises, slowing significantly as it does so not a moment of night goes without its moonbeams.
Jack shifts a little beside you.
The two of you are perched on a strong, high tree branch, overlooking the lake and its entire splendor. You’ve been up here for a while now, just sitting together, your head resting on his shoulder, his arm wrapped around your waist as you talk about random things and watch the world transition from day to night.
You’ve spent most of this time silent, though, the two of you just enjoying one another’s presence.
While you still can.
“You better…” his voice quietly comes.
“Hmm?” You ask, sitting up so you can look at him. His face is illuminated by the moonlight, the beams making his eyes twinkle in such a way that the lighter-blue design in them comes alive, dancing like a falling snowflake.
He sighs. “You better not let that snowflake melt, klutz.” He turns his head to look at you, a smirk spreading across his face.
But there’s sadness behind it. You can just see it.
You look down at the glimmering necklace, touching it with your fingertips as you smile softly.
You already know he knows very well that you’re never going to stop believing in him. He made this comment with a different purpose in mind. To tell you something else.
“I’ll be able to keep it?” you ask, fiddling with the small snowflake.
“Yup,” comes the reply, his smirk turning into a wide grin. “Everything. That, the skates…”
The memories, you mentally add on. A ray of moonlight gets caught in your necklace, making the snowflake shine brightly with a mysterious glow for a split second.
Jack coughs. It’s not a clear-your throat kind of cough, though. It has traces of that horrible cough not too long ago that had left blood on his snowy palm…
Your day is almost up, and you know it. Your hand slumps back to your side as you look away from Jack, a newfound grief bearing down upon your shoulders.
“Hey,” Jack says, a little hoarse from the cough. He clears his throat to fix his voice. It comes again, gentle and soothing, seeking to comfort you. “Look at me.”
You take a deep breath and do so.
Jack is half-smiling, nimbly crouching on his feet on the branch, completely facing you. His staff is lying horizontally across his lap since his hands are otherwise occupied. He’s holding out a mound of snow to you.
Confused, you take a closer look, holding onto the branch with both of your hands so you lower your risk of falling.
Nestled in his hands is a plump little bird. A cardinal. Made entirely of snow.
It looks so lifelike, so realistic, as if it could fly off at any second. Its feathers are carefully molded, the fan of plumage on its head sticking up like a dolphin’s dorsal fin. Its wings are folded close to its little round body. Its minute round beak is outlined by a depression in the snow on its face, indicating the area of black that would be present on a normal cardinal. Its long tail feathers hang slightly over the side of Jack’s cupped hands.
“Go on,” Jack says, eyes darting from you to the bird. He holds it out towards you a bit more.
As you cautiously reach out your hand to touch the cardinal, he closes his eyes, as if concentrating deeply on something. But you’re too focused on the tiny bird before you to really notice what Jack’s up to.
Just as your fingertip is about to make contact with the snow bird, it shakes, reminding you of a wet dog after a bath. Your hand shoots back out of surprise as you stare bewilderedly at the cardinal, not believing your eyes.
Something made of snow—an inanimate substance—just came to life.
Jack is beaming in delight at the whole spectacle, chuckling slightly at your astonishment.
The bird stretches its wings as it stands up in Jack’s hands. It looks right at you, cocking its head to the side in a quick motion as it questioningly chirps. It then hops around and looks at Jack, jumping excitedly.
He holds his hands out to the side as the bird readies itself for flight, its wings twitching in anticipation.
Jack blows a small breeze from his mouth at the bird’s back, and it gives a final chirp.
Then it takes off.
It flies up high into the sky, but doesn’t go past the clearing of the lake. It circles around and comes back to you, flying around the tree that you and Jack are sitting in. You find that you are lightly laughing at the incredibility of it all, following the cardinal closely with your eyes. It glides at some points, just enjoying its first flight, but becomes a blur of white at others as it flies at high speeds, weaving skillfully in and out of branches. It flies in a swirl up and around you, then hovers in front of you, chirping, its little snow-made wings flapping.
Just as you’re about to touch it, it leaves and circles above your head. A few inches above you, it seems to run into an invisible wall, bursting into nothing but falling snow with a small puff.
You look up, letting the snowflakes fall on your face, closing your eyes so you can really enjoy the sensation of having your very own personal snowfall.
You feel someone standing before you, a small gust of wind blowing at your front.
You look forward to see Jack floating in midair before you, the wind making his hoodie and hair dance ever so slightly.
His customary bluish tints are dimmer than usual. His cheeks are a little flushed. You can tell that he’s trying very hard to hide the fact that he’s not feeling well. He’s smiling at you, the mischievous glint in his eyes no fainter, seemingly unaffected by his growing pain.
Snowflakes are gently falling everywhere now, blanketing the earth in a fresh coat of snow.
“Ready, snowflake?” he says as he holds out his free hand for you to take.
“Ready,” you quietly respond as you take his hand, feeling the air catch you like a supporting cushion as you slip off the branch.
But you know you’ll never be ready for what’s about to happen. Nothing can prepare you enough. You wish, with all that you are, that it didn’t have to happen.
Or that you at least had more time.
But you know that those wishes won’t be granted. Not this time.
As the two of you lift out of the clearing, you look over at the silent moon and sadly smile, an expression that it returns.
You know that you wouldn’t have done anything differently. You will never regret ever meeting Jack Frost.
You wouldn’t take back a single moment of the time you’ve spent together.
Thank you, you think to Jack, focusing on the back of his head since he’s flying a bit in front of you. For everything. I’ll always remember…I’ll always believe…
You hold onto his hand tighter as the two of you fly onward, bound towards the North Pole once again.
For one, last time.