Main image
27th February
2012
posted by amber

The River Sleeps

The river sleeps beneath the snow-shrouded ice, but not too deeply. As the walkers step away from the shore they feel it, thrumming through their booted feet, they hear it murmur. Freedom beckons on the distant shore, black trees rearing above snow glowing pearl-like in moonlight, but the ice groans as it takes their weight, it wails and cries like a theremin.

Near the middle of their crossing, they see that in places the wind has removed the snow and polished the ice. Through the inky transparency criss-crossed with fissures, they see the river move like coal-dark smoke, bubbles fly past beneath them like submerged stars.

The dozen walkers have linked arms for reassurance and support. In their ragged coats, carrying their meagre possessions, they feel too exposed to discovery, their dark shapes distinct on the moonlit snow, but they are too frightened to separate.

A sharp crack, like a gunshot, startles them to scatter.

Then the screaming starts and only those near the victim understand what has happened. The ice has broken, two people have fallen in. No one helps them. Instead they run, sliding and falling, toward the forest’s shadowed maw.

Toward the safety of Canada.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

Leave a Reply