By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)
The children tumbled over the ground, rushing away from the danger, and unknowingly towards the gentle music. They had heard it begin a few seconds before they reached the frozen lake. The atmosphere was so quiet, so peaceful, that every urge to run left their minds and bodies. Trees stood still and silent beneath blankets of snow, posted like dusty sentries around the crystalline lake. The sparkling snow reflected the light from the twinkling stars up above, the only movement, besides the children, it seemed, in an otherwise still moment. The youngest ones began to feel sleepy, the older ones tried their best to keep the droopy eyes open, all while fighting the urge to sleep as well. Several of the younger ones urged the older ones to let them sleep, reminding them that they had been running for a long time. The older ones glanced at each other with worry; they would be caught by the enemy if they stayed there any longer! True, it was a beautiful spot, so still and serene, every time they looked at it, it sent their troubles and worries away, but they fought to keep them in mind. And yet, there was nowhere else to go, the lake seemed to go on for miles. They were thankful that the lake was frozen, but it would still take a while to get across with the younger ones. And the longer they stayed there, the harder it was to fight off the sleep.
“Please, help us,” whispered one of the girls into the night wind. She glanced at the ragtag group, sleep slowly but surely overtaking them. She glanced at the boy who came at the rear lovingly; this might be the only time she had to tell him how she felt. She moved a few steps towards him, but her knees buckled and she fell. The boy rushed forward and caught her, kneeling down gently with her head nestled against his chest. “Please, help,” she whispered into the night again, her breathing steadying with the drooping of her eyes.
It was the boy who saw her first, a beautiful woman skating into their corner of the lake. His gasp caused everyone to notice her presence. Brown curls fell past her shoulders, a pale blue skater dress accented with gold stars draped elegantly over her fair skin. She skated once around the lake before pausing in the middle of the circle she had created to look at the children. She smiled at them and blew them a kiss before she began to sway to the music on the ice. The children could hear the song clearly now, the skater gliding by them in time to the rhythm. She turned and spun in the air, landing gracefully. All eyes were open now, watching breathlessly at the gracefulness of the skater’s dance. She moved her arms out as she skated around the rim of the circle, turning her back to the children as she went into another spin in the air, followed by another graceful landing. She paused for a second, the music seemed to change, and she skated towards them, her arms moving like a ballerina. She seemed to move slowly, as if to keep with the stillness of the moment. Step by step she drew nigh, her steps keeping to the beat. She paused in the middle, her arms going in and out as she spun a few times. She skated backwards a bit, turning it into several spins around the perimeter. She came back to the middle of the circle and blew the children another kiss before continuing on. She glided around the perimeter, her arms out, before backing into another spin. She glided around the perimeter twice more before skating to the center where she went into an accelerated spin, her form barely visible at the speed she was going. She finally slowed down, her arms moved out gracefully before stopping and glancing again at the children, blowing them a third kiss.
The children’s eyes began to droop yet again, this time a little more quickly than before. They tried to keep their eyes open to watch the skater glide around the perimeter again. She stopped at the side farthest from the children, skated to the middle, glanced at them, and gave them a sweet smile before going into another fast twirl. She slowed down and stopped, glancing at the children as she did so. They were all asleep, all soundly, except for that one boy. He was fighting it off valiantly, though it was obvious he would be losing in a matter of minutes. He saw the creatures approaching them through hazy eyes, and watched as they picked up the children one by one and placed them gently in sleighs. He was the last to be picked up and placed gently in the sleighs, and as such he was the last one to see the skater. She smiled at him and waved, disappearing from view as his eyes closed. He fell asleep to the gentle swaying of the sleigh as it rushed over the snow to safety and the jingling lullaby of the sleigh bells.