Fiction: A Man of Snow

A Man of Snow
By: Erin Snyder

I remember those blue eyes, because they were the first things I ever saw. I remember that mocking voice, because it was the first thing I ever heard. "Merry Christmas, Snowman." Yes, that was what he said. "Now live," he laughed, staring into my eyes of coal.

I was so cold; there was so much pain. Why should a man made of snow be bothered by the cold? Ha! Men were never meant to be made of snow, and snow was never meant to be made into a man. Snow was never supposed to feel at all. I'd been alive for moments, and I knew this already. I knew because the power that gave me the ability to feel gave me knowledge, as well. Did the one who breathed life into me know this? I doubt he understood the depth of what he'd done, doubt he thought it through. He certainly did not know the full reach of this power, or he'd never have carved the rune that brought me to life.

I knew my creator, for all things are born with such knowledge. A human infant enters the world knowing its mother and, though most soon forget, knowing God, as well. But I was not born of a woman, and God had no hand in my making.

Children had gathered me from the ground, packed me together to give me form. I could feel their hand prints still embedded in my frozen body. But it was Alex Kirley, amateur sorcerer, whose fingers etched the runes in my side. It was he who spoke the word that woke me that cold winter's night.

"Must hurt," he said, gazing into my eyes. "Must hurt a lot. Yeah, I can see it. I can tell."

I wanted to grab him, to strangle the life from his body, but my arms would not move. How could they? They were only sticks. And I was only snow. Magic had given me life, but that was all it gave me. I had no joints, no blood or bile or organs. Shaped like a man, with a man's capacity for pain and anger, I was still nothing more than snow. Frozen, crystallized droplets of water.

"Well," he said. "I had my fun. Just wanted to see if it would work. Bye now." He reached over my shoulder where he'd left the runes and scraped his fingers through them. I wanted to scream in pain as I felt him dig into me, but of course I had no voice.

Then he hurried off with barely a glance. I wonder if he had peered into my eyes again if he would have been able to see that my life endured. The life he'd granted me seeped deeper than those runes. It ran through every part of me, and, no matter how much I wanted it to end, my consciousness clung on.

I was left, alone in the dark, watching him walk back to his car and drive away. I do not think I'll ever know why he chose me. There are other snowmen - I could see one across the street, standing as perfectly still as me in the moonlight. It looked so happy, so content. But then surely I looked happy, too, as I stood my lonely vigil.

The frigid night drew on endlessly, and the wind grated against me, scraping off bits of snow. I do not imagine that my snow was like your skin; rather, I believe it was more analogous to you being without skin, to having your insides exposed to the harsh winter - no, to have your insides one with the harsh winter. Yes, that is how I imagine it. But I cannot know for sure, because I can no more know what it would feel like to be a man made of flesh and blood than a man could know what it felt like to be made of snow and ice.

When the sun broke over the horizon, I wanted to cheer. For the briefest of instants, the beauty of the sunrise made me forget my pains. What a fool I was, to think the sun my ally.

I learned its true nature soon enough, as it rose about me, as it baked me, scorched me. I sweat and thirsted - yes, a snowman can thirst - as I was roasted alive. But always slowly. When that first day ended and the sun vanished behind me, I had lost but a fraction of my self. Still, I could sense its absence. More than just my body: a part of my mind had melted away. I did not know all the things I had the night before.

The days and weeks that came never grew better. The nights brought the frigid winds and bitter chill, which caked my melting body to itself, until I was coated by ice of my own making. Then the days brought burning warmth, which choked and sculpted me. I could feel the snow fleas as they burrowed into me, worming through me. The sticks that were my arms fell away, and I was no poorer for the loss. A crack appeared one morning on my left shoulder, and the wind bore deeper, until a piece of me fell away to the ground. Still, I could not fight or scream, even as my reason chipped away and, one by one, my memories unraveled, until, in the end, I was a melting heap of slush, and the only thoughts echoing through my fragmented mind were of pain and those blue eyes that had given me life. This, surely, was death.

Oh, but it wasn't. For Kirley, in his naivety, had toyed with the power of granting life, a power he'd likely stumbled across in his studies without ever comprehending its nature. Because he had granted me life without death. When at last I melted away and sank into the thawing earth, I found the rest of my self waiting for me. My thoughts coalesced, as the whole of my body pulled together. But I reformed without form; a snowman no more, I was a being of water. And, as such, I found I could move. I could seep and flow. I could move the ground, absorb or deposit minerals, and choose my direction.

Things hurt no more: the shapes I took were one and the same to me. Earthworms and pebbles tickled me, and I found the taste of salt soothing.

I came across a river soon enough and stumbled in.  For an instant, I believed I would dissipate in its current and lose the life I'd so newly come to love. But I did not. I found I could stretch out and snap together with ease. I could touch the water around me, speak to it after a fashion, though it did not think as I did. For I still thought as a man, and the river thought as a river. But, oh, the knowledge it held, knowledge of where it had come from and where it would flow, knowledge of its surroundings. Knowledge of pipes and waterways, of cities and sewers, and of paths only water might take. I drank in this knowledge, and I knew at once how I'd use it.

For now I knew the way to he who'd made me to suffer, he who'd left me to freeze and melt in pain. It took me mere hours to make the trip, to find my way into his home and the pipes of his shower. And here I am now, waiting for him to turn it on, so I can return his generosity in kind. Oh, I will be merciful. His pain will last only those fleeting minutes it takes me to wrap around him and choke the air from his lungs. If I'd eyes of my own, I would take pleasure in staring at him in that mocking way he'd stared at me. But I'd left those pieces of coal miles away, and I no longer needed them to see. No, I have no eyes of my own, but all is well. I am water, and I can show him a reflection of his own blue eyes as he chokes his last breath.


  1. These are all clearly ideas that you had during this whole mess, that you just wanted to get out. At least, that's how they feel. In any case, this is the best one. Also, I like the happy ending! Damn magicians.

  2. I actually wrote all of these during the last week of November: I've just been spreading them out over the whole month.

    But this is definitely the best of the bunch, which is actually why I selected it as the...

    Wait. Already I've said too much. Come back on Friday.


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