Broken Ice

Short Story

Jacob never truly suffered until one Christmas Eve.

December 24, 2005, started off with a bang. Jacob and his sister Sandy were out in the white blankets of snow that had gracefully fallen down the night before. Jacob looked up at the soft clouds above him which every now and again revealed a slit of blue that broke through the cotton candy-like clouds to show a beautiful blue sky. All the while he didn’t notice his sister carefully crafting snowballs. Then, all of a sudden BAM! He was hit by a snowball. He could almost see the snowball in slow motion barreling towards him and then splattering across his cheek. Soon he was on the ground brashly creating a clump of snow to retaliate with when he was interrupted by a familiar voice. Out of pure reaction, he spun around snowball in hand and whipped it at the unsuspecting visitor. Quickly, after he realized he’d made a mistake, his snowball was now hurtling at his father.

Once his father wiped the snow off his face, he gritted his teeth and spoke with a forced voice saying, “Let’s go now. I hope you listened and packed your stuff.” Of course he was referring to the skating trip they planned. Both siblings looked at each other with the same unprepared look on their face. Their father caught on fairly quickly and in the spirit of the day allowed them ten minutes to get ready. After ten minutes they were ready and went off to embark on their journey to the ice rink. Jacob’s feet trudged in the fluffy snow. He loved the way the snow crunched under his feet. His mind started filling with stories of the snowflakes dancing on the ice while playing with his sister. Before he knew it they were already at the old icy sign that read, “Welcome to Lake Deerprint!”

They stopped at an old well-used blue bench that had paint chips peeling off of it. In fact, it had gotten to the point that you really wouldn’t think it was blue. You would probably mistake it for a bluey-brown colour. As Jacob sat down he could feel the cold rusty nails digging into his bottom. Eventually everyone was ready and went on to the pad of ice. Unlike his sister who was a veteran skater, Jacob fell everywhere. Deerprint was usually a very busy place but for some reason today it was empty. Sandy was already on the ice spinning and jumping to her heart’s content while Jacob wibbled and wobbled onto the ice, falling multiple times. Sandy started noticing her brother struggling so she glided over to help him.

Soon she got close to him and said, “You know what? I bet I could skate much faster than you ever could,” with a fun but almost mocking tone in her voice.

Trying to sound confident, Jacob exclaims, “Oh ya? Try me!”

As they got up, they started going over the rules.

“We start at the oak tree and the first one to pass that yellow sign up there wins,” Jacob explained.

“Fine,” Sandy said with an air of confidence knowing that she would win.

They lined up along the front of the oak tree “3...2...1” Jacob yelled then “GO!” The racers started. Along the way Jacob started to get a feel for skating and little by little caught up to his sister. Jacob started to wobble a bit, then a bit more until an uneven chunk of ice sent Jacob flying across the ice right towards Sandy. Sandy, surprised by the whole event, lost control of her skates and her balance. She twisted and turned in more ways than one until THUMP!! She hit the ice hard feet first. Jacob glanced up at his sister who was sprawled across the ice. Then he noticed the yellow sign just behind her. Jacob realized he had lost and called out to his sister with a tone of defeat, “Sandy, you won!”

As he turned his head to look at their father, the sign caught his eye in thick block letters it read, “DANGER THIN ICE.” It felt like a jolt of realization. He and his sister were all alone in the middle of thin ice. His thoughts were interrupted by his sister’s plea for help.

“JACOB, MY LEG’S STUCK!”

It dawned upon him that his father was too far away. He had to help her. He needed to or he might never see her smile again. He was quickly developing a plan when all of a sudden CRACK, then a scream from his sister. It felt like the ice under him was about to give in. So he rolled closer to his sister. Then he realised she had not one, but two full legs in the water. He rolled an arm’s length away from her and started tugging at her jacket. Suddenly, it cracked again, this time covering most of her torso in the hole. Jacob felt the cold sting of water dripping down his face. He looked at his sister now fully submerged except for her head and arms. A tear rolled down her cheek and a weak smile dawned upon her face.

She spoke with a defeated tone and said, "It’s too late for me now. Please Jacob, save yourself.”

With that Jacob felt his grip loosen from her jacket. It dawned upon him his sister was dying and he was sitting right beside her unable to do anything. Tears were now pouring down his face and he wailed with grief as his sister was now fully submerged in water. A few bubbles surfaced until there was nothing left of his sister. The ice started cracking under his stomach too but he didn’t move a muscle, still consumed with grief. Just in the knick of time he felt two hands grasp his now drenched arms. Three quickly became two.

A whole family ruined from ice.