Jesse S. Mitchell
part 4 here
part 4 here
And so bad news had obliterated his mind. After he was dismissed and after his body began to move again, he shot out the front double doors of the school like cannonball, knocking down anything that stood in his direct path. Rolling through the world with the explosive force of some random rebellious and ricocheting bullet, gone off too soon, immature and reckless. He slid on the ice in spots but never fell down. Burst across the highway in front of the school, never turning his head to see the traffic that was coming but he wasn’t hit, the cars skidding and screeching to a halt, the drivers angrily but correctly accusing him of having lost his mind.
He didn’t know entirely where he was running to, but he did know it wasn’t to home. He definitely wasn’t going home first thing. What if his mother didn’t know? He wasn’t going to be the person to tell her. Oh no. And what if she had already heard, which was much more likely? He knew he couldn’t look into those eyes, those moon-shaped eyes, all swollen and tear-stained. He would break right in half and then into halves again and then into two million little pieces; shards of him would get so displaced, he would never get himself back together again. And the same for his mother. The two of them, sharing sensibilities, both so quiet, so sensitive, thin-skinned, apt to disappear or shatter away at anytime anyway, now they would just feed off of each other and they would die, die away from this world and live no more, two wide open eyed corpses slowly marching themselves to the graveyard.
Now, he would stay outside. Go out into the woods and watch the animals, watch for the giant, listen to the hunters squirrel or goose hunting, casual blasts from shotguns hills away, distant sounds of calls, or maybe some gloomy chugging from the train tracks, black-stained engines burning diesel fuel that stenches up the air everywhere. And he would let the earth move so slow, so slow, for an hour or two and then take himself home before the grief wore off his mother a bit and she began to worry about him.
When he got to the creek, he saw it was swollen still but totally frozen over, transparent blues and grays, transcendental silvers, globes of pure perfect white, fingers of crystal bright reaching out under the surface waiting for the perfect crack or splinter to grab and yank down on and let the rushing water come fighting and gurgling up. He looked up the falls, all frozen in long metallic strings, all threaded and twisted together, fine rope.
And then he saw him, the giant, standing next to the falls, a bit in front of the cave. His back turned to the boy, he hadn’t noticed Noah at all. He was raising his arms or moving them or working at something, but he was talking. Noah couldn’t hear him. He quietly, as quietly as he had ever moved, moved up the hillside closer and closer, his heart pounding, and even in the cold, his forehead sweating. He wasn’t scared. He was excited. He slowly began to hear the deep baritone voice letting words drop out like lead or hot iron.
“And he rises, like dark seas in the deep furnace churning oceans, breezes, and swells when all else seems to ebb and redeposits on these barren banks the sparks and wine colored ever ever ever smoldering embers of the ash blanket of life. Come like waves. This mass. These hands that hold up precious. Come strength. Do not be afraid. Do not be cold. None here are too weak for the freezing nor the thawing either. Buried in the snow. This mass.”
Poetry? Some spell perhaps? But either way, the giant stopped talking, even though it seemed he wasn’t finished. The giant started to turn around. His face was stern, pale, a very wide mouth, a long frown. He looked about and turned quickly, nearly suddenly, he bent down and swooped his face down to right in front of Noah’s. He looked straight at him. Stared. And stared. Silently. Noah, now absolutely scared, was too frightened to move. Except for shaking. He was shaking. A terrified quaking mess.
“Child? Yes, child.” Not speaking to Noah, but seemingly quizzing himself and assuring himself that this was indeed a child of some sort. Noah answered him anyway.
“Y-yea-ah, I’m a-a child.”
The giant looked confused and then looked even harder at Noah.
“What do you want?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“W-what do you mean? I’m…I’m scared. I’m just scared. I don’t want anything. I have just been curious.”
“No. That’s not it. Something is wrong with you. It isn’t fear.” He looked harder and harder, studying Noah up and down. “It is sadness, deep grief. You are sad. Why?”
“My father…my father j-just died. He was killed. A-a-an accident.”
“Um hmm.” He nodded and stood back straight. Looked over the top of the falls.
“So you know about the accident?” Noah screamed up toward the giant.
The giant looked down and nodded.
“Did you know it was happening?”
“Yes. Knew when and also knew it was coming. I could feel it.”
“If you knew, why didn’t you do anything to stop it or to help them?”
“Why?” Silence for a few seconds, the wind slowly whipping and curling through the trees, tiny snowflakes caught up in the drafts, sparkling. Noah noticed his feet getting cold standing in the deep drifts of snow along the hillside.
“Why? Well, I did. I kept myself as perfectly still as I could, I tried not to move around, as big as I am, I can cause a great deal of movement, avalanche, but I…I stopped and was still and…and I froze as much as I could around me. Freezing the air, the rain to snow, the ground harder, I hoped faster, safer.”
“You caused the snow?”
“I did this time, yes.”
The giant reached down and slowly but surely surrounded Noah in his large right hand, carefully brought his fingers in and circled him, his grasp gentle but certain. He lifted the boy into the air and placed him at the very top of the falls. Noah looked around as he flew up into the air, cold snow hitting his face, his cheeks red. When his feet finally touched ground, it was icy and slick, he found it hard to stand up but when he got his bearings and looked at the wide swollen upper creek, nearly a river, totally frozen over, he was amazed. It was beautiful, long paths and trees perfectly lining the banks, pure white and silver and ghastly bright blue, so ghastly it was an unadulterated thing of absolute beauty. No breath, no breath, Noah could breathe not one little breath until finally fighting through the astonished splendor, a few minute heroic breaths did come…and go, floating high through the cold air, Valkyrie-carried-away to Valhalla to hot-breath-fight again someday, the promise of brand new awe. But now, Noah stood there at the beginning of some wonderful icy Champs-Elysees with an extraordinary frost giant, wondering. Wondering where the stream led? Wondering how it had got the way it was, planned or some wild act of nature, some natural force aided by the large hands of the large giant? Wondering so hard that he almost forgot his grief. But he didn’t and at the moment he realized he had nearly forgotten his grief, he felt the sting even harder and tears rolled down his face but he made every effort not to notice them and not to show them off. He wiped them away and turned his eyes back to the spectacle land before him.
“Did you do this?”
The giant nodded.
“You froze this?”
“Yes. And shaped it. Made it this way.”
“There is a lot of water here. It has been building up, like it did years back.”
“And if it thaws…”
“It will flood. Drowning and destroying.”
“You could thaw it?”
“But, I have no mind to.”
“What are you?”
“Just an antediluvian relic.”
“But you can’t keep this frozen forever.”
“No, no I cannot. I cannot keep things this way. I can’t hold back anything for very long. The world is changing, I have seen it before, the days get hotter and they get longer and soon, boom, apres moi…”“I should get home.”