On a Cold Winter Night
By: Robin Gagnon
Walking quietly in the falling snow, Scott watched his breath fog up the air in front of him like little clouds. His hands were buried deep in his army winter jacket, which was zipped up all the way to his chin. It was a rather chilly night, so he was surprised to see a girl, whom didn’t appear to be much younger than himself, standing on the footbridge all alone.
She was staring down into the river below, as she snuggled into her large winter coat. Her long, blond hair, flowed out from beneath her wool hat and when she finally noticed him, she looked up with wide, blue eyes.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Scott apologized, as the girl backed away a little fearfully. “What are you doing out here anyways? It’s pretty cold out.”
“I was just watching the snow fall into the river,” she replied, relaxing a little. “It’s neat to think they fall into the river and then get carried off somewhere completely different from where they landed.”
Scott thought the girl’s statement was weird, but didn’t say so. Instead, he leaned on the railing and watched the snowflakes fall into the river below with her. When he was sure she wasn’t looking, Scott looked over and admired the girl’s beauty. At one point, she turned and caught him staring, causing her to blush.
“You should probably head home,” Scott suggested. “It’s getting late and I’m sure your family is worried about you.”
The girl’s face fell and she went back to watching the river as she replied, “I don’t have a family.”
“What are you talking about?” Scott asked in confusion. “Don’t you have parents?”
“My mom died when I was young,” the girl explained quietly. “And my father is a horrible, horrible man.”
Tears sprung to her eyes and Scott immediately felt bad. How could someone so sweet and innocent have such terrible things happen to them?
“Why don’t you come back to my place?” Scott suggested, catching the girl by surprise. “You can stay with me for as long as you like. You don’t have to go back home ever again.”
“Really?” she asked in disbelief. “Are you sure? I don’t want to cause you any trouble.”
“Nonsense,” Scott interrupted, becoming insistent. “No one should be treated poorly by their own family members. Besides, I wouldn’t mind at all. I think you’re quite pretty.”
Scott’s face heated up in the cold night and the young girl giggled shyly. There was a moment of silence, as the snowflakes drifted softly to the ground under the pale yellow light of the street lamp.
Finally, the young girl faced him with shining blue eyes as she asked him, “Do you really want to be with me?”
Scott was caught off guard by the seriousness and bluntness of the question, but promptly nodded, “Of course.”
The blond haired girl’s face lit up with joy and she smiled, “Let’s go then!”
Scott smiled, but his good mood quickly turned to horror, as the girl hurled herself over the railing and into the icy water below. As she went over, Scott rushed to grab her arm, but missed. Slipping on the ice that coated the footbridge, he flipped over the railing and then plunged into the water after her.
The frigid temperature hit him like a slap to face, causing him to breathe in sharply and choke on the water he accidentally inhaled. Struggling to stay afloat, as the rapid current carried him under the bridge, Scott searched for the girl that had fallen in before him, but saw no sign of her. Panicking, he tried to swim to the shore, but his body was rigid and the freezing cold water had started to tire him out.
He looked back up towards the bridge sleepily, as he went upstream, and saw the young girl waving to him as she called out cheerfully, “See you on the other side, my love!”
The girl vanished from sight in between the falling snowflakes and Scott blacked out in the water, during the cold winter night.