Ice Skating

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All autumn my little sister had been begging me to take her ice skating. Winter arrived early and stayed late this far north but still we had to wait for the lake to freeze over deeply enough to be safe.

‘Can we go out to check today, Alex?’ she asked me as we ate porridge before the roaring kitchen fire.

‘It won’t have frozen enough yet, Beka,’ I replied, ‘it only snowed a little last night.’

‘Still I want to see!’ Beka cried.

I rolled my eyes and finished my porridge.

‘Take her out Alex,’ mother said from the huge table, ‘today, we are getting the  sweet puddings ready for the Winter Feast day. You two will only get under our feet.’

Both grandmothers, cook and maid agreed.

‘I want to help father hunting,’ I spoke.

‘He left all ready. Now, be a good son and look after your little sister.’

Grumpily, I got ready and the maid helped Beka with her fluffy elk boats, long red coat, gloves, scarf and matching red hat. We meet by the kitchen door, all ready to go out in the freezing morning.

‘You won’t need your ice skates, Beka,’ I said.

Beka pulled a face and shifted the white leather ice skates on her left shoulder, ‘it’s just in case.’

I shook my head, decided not to argue with her and opened the door. An icy wind blasted in and the fire began to gutter. Quickly, we went out and saw a thick frost and light dusting of snow on the ground. The sky above was a steel blue colour and the sun was a weak yellow in the sky.

We walked to the end of the garden, through the gate and around the edge of the woods. Gun shots echoed and a few birds flew up from the trees.

‘It’s father,’ Beka spoke.

I nodded and we walked on to the lake. Ice cold, clear water lapped at a frozen mud shore. A few ducks were swimming in the distant and the little wooden rowing boat was rocking against it’s wooden walk way.

‘See,’ I pointed out.

Beka sighed and looked downcast, ‘it’s no where near frozen!’

‘In a few more weeks it might be. Let’s go out in the boat instead. It might be the last time we can.’

She nodded, we climbed into the boat and I rowed us around the lake.

Glass #WritePhoto

The first frost had fallen that morning. Dill had waited until the sun had melted it before taking his two westies for a walk. There was still some sparkling white patches of grass in the shadows of the hills and in the distance some of the higher tops looked as white as the clouds that seemed to be touching them.

Dill relying heavily on his metal walking sticks, followed the small stone covered pathway towards the lake. He knew this country well, having spent his whole life out here looking after the flock of sheep. Now, that responsibility had moved to his sons and Dill was free of a burden he had never realised he had carried.

Sitting on a bench his grandfather had built, Dill rested his arthritic limbs. The familiar ache in his chest made itself known and reminded him that he was no longer young. Still though he was defiant that old age would not bet him.

He watched the two westies sniffing about and drinking from the edge of the lake. Soon the water would start to freeze over and in the heart of winter, the lake would become a hard glass surface dusted with snow.

The memory of one winter when he was eighteen always haunted him and the sight of the lake always brought it sharply back.

Dill had been driving the sheep towards shelter when one of the sheep had broken away and gone onto the frozen lake. Dill’s then sheep dog, Kip, had refused to go after it. The black and white dog stood on the edge of the ice barking, torn between chasing the sheep and sensing the danger underneath his paws.

Dill hadn’t been able to abandoned the ewe and had decided to go after her himself. He knew the lake had been frozen for two months now and there was a heavy covering of snow across the surface. He could see the sheep in the distance, her dirty huge fleece making her stand out and her dashing hood prints plain in the snow.

Kip had shadowed him in a shy way and when encouraged still refused to fetch the sheep. Dill had given up and carried on walking, using his shepherd’s crook to steady his footsteps.

Far from the shore, Dill felt the snow shift under his feet and came to a stop as a loud cracking sound started up. Covered by thick snow, it was hard to make out the lines of the break. He had felt a little spiral of fear but pushed on. More cracking echoed off the hills and he thought he heard the sound of water bubbling.

Dill could see the ewe and he was so close but within seconds the sheep disappeared. Her desperate cries echoed in Dill’s ears as did the sound of splashing. Quickly, Dill had rushed onward and found the sheep drowning in a watery hole, edged by jagged ice that looked like broken shards of glass. The force of the water and the sheep’s heavy fleece were dragging her down to her doom.

Grabbing fist fulls of the wet fleece, Dill had tried to haul the ewe out. He struggled as the sheep fought him and the icy water tried to claim her. He tugged and tugged, his own feet slipping on the mushing snow and ice. Kip barked and danced around, unable to help.

Finally, Dill had pulled the ewe out and they had lay on the water snow, both exhausted with lake water running off them. Then, Dill had half carried, half dragged the yew back home. Snow had began to fall and he had thought they would never make it but Kip kept bit at his heels and the ewe’s until they did.

Safe inside, they had sat by the kitchen coal fire for the rest of the night. The warmth melting the snow and chasing the frozen lake water from their veins. The ewe had seemed none the worse of almost dying and Dill knew they had both had a lucky escaped.

One of the westies’ licked Dill’s cold fingers, bringing him back to the present. He patted the dog, speaking softly to it. It was time to go back, Dill could feel the coming snow in his shepherd’s bones. Standing wobbly up, Dill made his way slowly home again where a warm fire and steaming mug of tea with whiskey would be waiting.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/11/14/thursday-photo-prompt-glass-writephoto/ with thanks).

Glacial #WeekendWritingPrompt

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The ice was melting fast and Steven was trying to slow it down. As he trekked back to the scientific base, he spotted something rising up from the coast. Getting closer, he saw the remains of a city. Awed, he realised he had just discovered something for more important then stopping the melting.

 

(Inspired by; https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/weekend-writing-prompt-110-glacial/ with thanks).

 

 

Melting #FlashFictionChallenge

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The wooden ship creaked as the ice finally broke away. The crew hung over the sides, eagerly watching the results. They had been trapped in the iceberg for three months now, surviving on half rations and whatever fish and birds they could catch.

The ship seemed to sink a little into the water and the first tiny waves lapped around the bow.

‘Shall we unfurl the sails, Captain?’ the first mate asked.

The Captain, who hadn’t been keen on this exploration trip to the Arctic, nodded.

The crew set to work quickly, finally feeling like they had been saved.

 

(Inspired by; https://carrotranch.com/2019/05/23/may-23-flash-fiction-challenge/ with thanks).

 

 

The Land That’s Not Green #Pegman

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The boat bobbed through icy water, sliding past icebergs that drift on the sea.

Lola took a few photos then turned to look for her sister. Other tourists blocked her view but she spotted Rey at the bow. Going over, Lola joined her.

‘Isn’t Greenland just something else?’ Rey spoke.

‘It is but it’s not very green,’ Lola answered.

The girls smiled at that on going joke.

A blast of sea spray fell like harsh snowflakes on their faces and drew them both to look over the side. Below, large creatures were breaking through the bow waves.

‘Whales!’ Rey cried.

‘Amazing!’ Lola added.

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/03/09/greenland/ with thanks).

Chilly Day #1linerweds

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There was only one spot on the pond not frozen over and all the birds were crowded into it trying to keep it that way.

(Inspired by; https://lindaghill.com/2018/03/28/one-liner-wednesday-chilly-day-for-a-swim/ with thanks).

Thundersnow

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From his window, safe and warm in his house, Peter watched a mixture of hailstone and snow falling. In a few blinks, everything was icy white as if someone had dropped lots of tins of paint. Cars slide across the road and people tried to battle against the snow storm.

A bright flash of light nearly blinded him and Peter looked up, confused. Had that been lightening? He listened, but could hardly hear the rumble of thunder that followed. Two storms at once? he wondered. Searching, he soon saw another lightening strike but this time he didn’t hear the thunder.

He searched his mind and recalled something, he had once heard on the news in another country; thundersnow. It happened in winter, during a snow storm and the lightening was brighter then normal due to reflection off the snow and the thunder was quieter. Was this what he was seeing now? Peter wasn’t sure, but it seemed possible.

Blue #writephoto

It was nice to sit by the lake, watching the lapping waves and the cold blue evening sky above. A dusty layer of snow lay on the ground and at some of the lake’s edges thin ice had formed. Winter’s chill was heavy in the air, promising more snow in the night but for the moment it was safe to be outside.

There was hardly any noise, just the distance sound of late dog walkers, joggers and cyclists, like myself. I could hear the soft cracks of the ice as the water moved underneath. Looking at a patch close by, there was a glazed spider web pattern of crazing across the smooth surface. It seemed almost artistic.

Turing my face to the sky, I wondered how badly it would snow tonight. The clouds were slowly coming in, turning everything darker. I felt a drop of wetness then it started to sleet. Balancing on my bicycle, I watched the icy rain fall into the water. Little ripples bobbed on the surface and on the ice the sleet seemed to start sticking.

It was time to go home.

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/12/28/thursday-photo-prompt-blue-writephoto with thanks).

Ice Tree #FridayFictoneers

It had only been a stupid school playground game; who could lick an icicle and get their tongue stuck? However, things hadn’t gone to plan and the four boys had ended sat in the staff room for the afternoon waiting for the icicles attached to their tongues melt.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/12/06/8-december-2017/ with thanks).

Cracked Ice

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Mark threw a stone into the iced over lake. There was a loud cracking sound followed by a few smaller ones. He moved closer to the edge, crunching over the frosted grass.

The other six children gathered around too and looked at what had happened to the smooth white surface. Large lines cut there jagged way across and small sections had broken away. Water bubbled slowly upwards and over the ice chucks.

‘It’s not safe to skate on,’ Mark declared.

The children groaned. They had hurried out of school, gone home to get their ice skates then rushed to the lake. Their were cheeks were flushed red with the cold and they were all eager to have some fun. Now their hopes had been dashed.

Mark dropped his shoulders and looked further out across the lake. Being the oldest he felt he should come up with an idea of what to do now. However, nothing came to him. He looked up at the already darkening sky.

‘Maybe tomorrow,’ he said in a quiet voice, ‘it looks like it might snow properly.’

‘Then we can skate?’ one of the youngest girls called out.

‘Maybe,’ Mark answered.

He turned away from the lake and led the children back to the bridge. From there they could see the large cracks the stone had made more fully. Water was now lapping around the tiny ice floats and making them bump together.

‘Everyone should go home,’ Mark spoke.

With loud mutterings, all the children turned and began heading off to their houses. Mark lingered. He looked over the bridge once more, watching the sky changing color. Giggling voices drew his attention away and he watched as two teenage girls appeared at the edge of the lake.

Without really knowing why, he ducked down and watched them putting on their ice skates. A part of him knew he should shout over that it wasn’t safe, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The girls went on the ice and began skating and Mark spied on them, but even if they had noticed him they were too busy.

The girls’ scarfs and loose hair flew about as they spun. They laughter rose and fell. Mark recognised them from school, not that he had ever been as close to them as he was right now. He liked the red-head the best, Rose was her name, but her friend, Beth, with the darker hair was also pretty.

Mark heard a massive crack and before his eyes the girls disappeared. A large hole appeared in the middle of the lake and water was splashing up from it. Without thinking, he ran over the bridge and down on to the lake. The ice held his weight, but he was slipping everywhere.

He reached the hole, even though the ice was breaking up around him. He tried to reach out for the girls as they hands were reaching up from the water. He could hear them both struggling to breath and stay a float. He grabbed hold of one of them and tried to pull her out, but she was too heavy.

Fighting down panic that he would fall in too , he tried harder and managed to drag Rose out. She lay face down on the still cracking ice then tried to get up. Mark moved on to help her friend, but as he reached out for that hand, it slipped from his and down into the water.

‘Beth can’t swim!’ Rose cried.

Rose joined Mark and their hands both dipped into the freezing water in search of the other girl. Mark’s hand only meet water. From underneath them came more cracking sounds and instinct kicked in.

‘We have to get off!’ Mark yelled.

‘No! We can’t leave her!’ Rose gasped, water dripping off her.

‘We have no choice!’ Mark answered back.

He grabbed Rose and started pulling her away. She tried resist, but her ice skates made it easier for Mark to move her forward. They reached the bank as a handful of adults arrived and came to meet them.

‘There’s a girl still in there!’ Mark shouted and pointed across the lake.

The adults rushed into action, Mark turned his attention fully to Rose, who knelt on the snow crying and shaking. He helped wrap her in a blanket and get her to her feet.

As they were walked away by two adults, Mark looked back over his shoulder. The other adults were pulling the girl from the lake. He could see them trying to help her, but it was too late.

 

Story prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2016/12/01/thursday-photo-prompt-cracked-ice-writephoto/ with thanks.