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She didn’t leave any tracks.
Maybe she did, he thinks, and he didn’t see them, because the snow was blowing around for what seemed for all night, but he was sure she had been beside him until morning, when she had left, the cold presence in his arms, moving, filling the hole with a milder cold of the weather.
His mare is dead. He remembers saying to her, when she first appeared, “Put her out of her pain. Please.” He couldn’t bear the weak whinnying anymore, had to turn away from the horrible sight of backwards-bent legs, has to stop himself from crying out at the sight of his poor mare.
Her lips (rose red, blood red) had arranged themselves in a smile that did not reach her eyes. “We don’t usually take horses.”
(We. Why we? He’d always been taught that what she was, what she must have been, was singular.)
“Please,” he said, and kneeled down in front of her.
She chuckled, and bent down to chuck him under the chin, look him in the eys (that stare of hers. Ice and cold and nothingness, and faint stars) and tells him, “Usually, being the operative word.”
And she turns from him, and leans over his mare (he’d grown up wit her, almost, andhe had taken care of her for what seemed like always) and leans close to her face.
He turns away, trying not to hear the faint humming, sucking sound, that makes the hair on the back of his neck stand (but it was already standing, it was so cold). When at last a cold hand settles itself on his shoulder, he had been staring out into the storm, and wondering why none of the swirling flakes settled themselves on him, or around him.
“She’s gone,” the woman murmurs into his ear ( no warmth. So cold. Did she breathe?). “And now… what shall we do?” And her hand slid down his shoulder, between his furs,onto his chest, and he shuddered, but not with fear or revulsion.
“I don’t know how to get out of here without my horse,” he says, because







She didn’t leave any tracks.

Maybe she did, he thinks, and he didn’t see them, because the snow had been blowing around for nearly all night, but he is sure she had been beside him until morning, a cold presence in his arms, until she left, leaving the hole to be filled with a milder cold, of the weather.

His mare is dead. He remembers saying to her, when she appeared to him, “Put her out of her pain. Please.” He couldn’t bear the weak whinnying anymore, had to turn away from the horrible sight of backwards-bent legs, had to stop himself from crying out at the sight of his poor mare.

Her lips (rose red, blood red) had arranged themselves in a smile that did not reach her eyes. “We don’t usually take horses.”

(We. Why we? He’d always been taught that what she was, what she must have been, was singular.)

“Please,” he said, and knelt down in front of her.

She chuckled, and bent down to chuck him under the chin, looked him in the eyes (that stare of hers. ice and cold and nothingness, and faint stars.) and told him, “Usually, being the operative word.”

And she turned from him, and leaned over his mare (he’d grown up with it, almost, and he had taken care of it for what seemed like always) and leans close to its face.

He turned away, trying not to hear the faint humming, sucking sound, which made the hair on the back of his neck stand (but it was already standing, it was so cold). When at last a cold hand settled itself on his shoulder, he had been staring out into the storm, and wondering why none of the swirling flakes had, or would, settle themselves on him, or around him.

“She’s gone,” she murmured into his ear (no warmth. so cold. did she breathe?). “And now… what shall we do?” And her hand slid down his shoulder, between his furs, onto his chest, and he shuddered, but not with fear or revulsion.

“I don’t know how to get out of here without my horse,” he said, because it was the only thing he could think to say. She made an irritated, impatient noise, and pulled him close, and…

And now it is day, the sun still low in the sky. He is cold, but he is alive, where the storm could have buried him and his mare. Now it has buried only his mare.

He looks around again. There are no tracks (the storm ended sometime in the night. how could she have left without making any?), anywhere.

He doesn’t know how to find his way out- the path is buried, and all the trees look the same, bare in the time of winter.

But her touch had been ice, and night, and lingers on him (there was, had to be, some sort of scar she had left on him, to mark their night, he thought), so he follows the insistent tugging of his heart.

She had left tracks, after all.

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