The theme of this week (“I’m so cold my bones have frozen”) is appropriate, as winter temperatures seem to be here forever, at least for author Cathy MacKenzie. Her most recent publication, BETWEEN THESE PAGES, is a compilation of 18 short stories. The book is available on Amazon and Smashwords:
Frozen in Time
Until Vivian heard her husband’s voice, she wondered if she had actually spoken.
“What?” John said.
Despite the cold, warm relief rushed through her body at his reply. She yearned to touch him, but her arms were bolted to her sides. Icy crisps filled her mouth when she attempted to speak, but she made another attempt.
“So cold. Freezing.”
“You’re always cold,” John said.
“No, it’s truly cold, John. It is. So cold I can barely breathe.” She swallowed more frosty crystals, which melted as they cruelly descended down her throat. John was a raging furnace, especially in bed, unlike Vivian who was continually chilled and craved his warmth on winter nights. A vision of the two of them snuggling in bed formed before her.
Panic set in when he didn’t reply. “Can you hear me? John?”
“I hear you.”
“Cold. Very cold. Where are you?” Vivian said. The arctic hardness weighting her down was colder and longer-lasting than any other she had experienced. She hated the cold, always had.
“I’m here. Can’t see.” Though it took great effort to open her mouth and Vivian felt she should conserve her energy, she had to talk to her husband. Had to know he was near despite the glacial dankness.
Vivian heard a muffled reply. At least she thought she did. Had he spoken? Why couldn’t she see him?
“Can you see me?” she said.
In the muted silence, time remained still. Frozen. Could they be? Or was it just her? Vivian remembered the day—or thought she had. Had she and John gone skiing, as they usually did on the weekends? It was still winter, right? To whom was she talking? Was John there?
“What’s happening? Where are we?”
“I…not sure,” he said, hesitation and uncertainty obvious in his voice.
“Are we in a dream? Am I dreaming? I can usually wake myself out of a dream, when I want to. I want to now. But I can’t.”
“Vivian, that’s hogwash. If you can do that, then you’re not really asleep. I’ve told you that before.”
“Just humour me. Try to wake yourself up, John.”
Vivian heard nothing in response but the cold. Could one hear cold? Certain she could, she shivered though tightly encased in her arctic prison. Pressure numbed her ears as liquid trudged down her eardrums.
John was trying to wake up, she knew it. Both of them must awake from the horrid dream they were immersed in. But when had they ever shared the same nightmare? When had they ever discussed dreaming within a dream?
“No, I’m still awake,” John said. “Or asleep. Whatever I am. Nothing’s changed.”
Vivian would have sighed in desperate resignation, had she been able to. But a swallow of another clump of ice crisps was all she could muster.
Silence ruled. Although it seemed a lifetime elapsed, Vivian knew it was merely minutes. How could a life pass by that fast?
“Vivian, you there?” John’s voice sounded weaker.
“Yes…here. But… I’m sinking, John. Sinking somewhere…not sure where… I…” She closed her mouth, then parted her lips. The life sucked from her. Although unable to utter her last words—“I’m so cold my bones have frozen”—she suspected John already knew.
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Catherine A. MacKenzie