Marcia Bain on her way to school stamping her shiny red boots in the snow. Blowing clouds in the frozen air. Catching snowflakes on her tongue. Cracking frozen puddles with her heels, Holding up slices of ice, creating flashes of light in the pale sun. Not noticing her hands turning blue. Pretending she’s a fairy making magic in a pure white world. Shaking diamonds from the branches of the white-coated trees.
Harry Greaves in the playground sliding in the ice, not letting anyone else have a turn. Harry who beats up the smaller boys. Harry who pulls the girls pants down. Harry who keeps running away from home and sometimes comes to school with a black eye. Harry whose father grows giant leeks in trenches of guts from the slaughterhouse. Harry whose father stays up at night guarding his leeks with a crowbar.
Tommy Monks building a snowman bigger than himself, arranging leaves on the head, calling it a coiffure, dancing back and forth pretending he’s a famous hairdresser. Marcia pressing in coal eyes, carrot nose, twiggy arms, brick feet and woollen scarf with red and white stripes. Tommy and Marcia with their shining eyes and rosy cheeks and soft curling mouths, hoping with every heartbeat they’ll win the competition.
Harry charging like a bull from behind, toppling the snowman, jumping on its head with his oversize shoes, laughing at Tommy’s tears before tripping and slipping and landing spread-eagled on the ground. Marcia’s fingers gripping a brick. The crack of bone. A skull unzipped. Red roses blooming in the snow.
Harry’s father’s photo in the paper holding his silver cup and cash prize, telling reporters the secret is blood and bone.
Sandra Arnold is an award-winning writer who lives in New Zealand. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from CQ University, Australia. Her flash fiction and short stories appear or are forthcoming in numerous journals including Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine and New Flash Fiction Review, and in the anthologies, Sleep is a Beautiful Colour (National Flash Fiction Day, UK, 2017), Fresh Ink (Cloud Ink Press, NZ, 2017) and Bonsai: The Big Book of Small Stories (Canterbury University Press, NZ, 2018). Her work has been nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. www.sandraarnold.co.nz