• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 03
Image by

Thin Ice

There is a kind of blue, blue day you only see in January - cyanotype sky, clear, cold. It is colder than anything you can remember, colder than you think it should be, when the sky is this blue. And against all this colour rubs a scent that reminds you of a stolen day by the sea, oh, long years ago - those student days when you could sit for hours over a cup of tea and two slices of toast in the all-day breakfast caff by the bus station in some forgotten town. But this sort of sky demands a coast path walk. Or at least a walk by a lake, wrapped in scarf and gloves to watch the sailing boats on the long pond, stopping on the bridge where you look down and see coots skating on thin ice.

So often you have worried that the ice might crack. But not today. Today might be fragile as tissue, crimped and folded, but it is finely wrought, with a strength tensile as the tracery of bare branches that frame this blueprint sky. You bunch your hands into your pockets, find a balled up tissue, slightly damp, wrapped around the cold hardness of a key. You close your fingers around its serrated edges, stroke its curves absently, your mind unfocused, letting your thoughts wander from your pocket back to the ice and the water where a duck struggles on the edge of the ice shelf, hefting herself, smashing herself against the ice, unable to gain purchase. The other ducks are comical as they slip and slide and penguin waddle. But this duck is still in the water, she lurches and falls back. You think she has given up, but suddenly she circles, races back and then she is lifting up, out of the icy water, she is over the ice, above her mates, over the trees and into the cyan sky. And you - you don’t hesitate, don’t stop now to think; jerk the key from your pocket, drop it into the water.