Flash Fiction: Edge of Melting (343 words)

Under starlight, everything turned to ice. Hills and stones and flower petals, none of them sharp enough to hold a shine, gleamed like water on the edge of melting. The air cooled and calmed, only numbing fingers and cheeks after they had stood in it for a while. Small sounds carried, clinks and clatters, all of them too hard in the silence, and ringing smoothly back into the nothingness.

It was too early in the year for the cold to bite deep. Still, Loena could feel the heat of Ami’s hand in hers as if there were an old coal between their palms. The air sliding into her lungs felt like weak peppermint, unable to hold onto the chill all the way down her throat. She sucked it in, grateful for the feeling, for the proof that she was not turning to ice herself.

At the corner, they waited, and finally, Ami squeezed her fingers.

“We can always go back,” she whispered, not quite leaning against Loena’s shoulder.

Loena considered it. Then she shook her head. “If we don’t go tonight, Keb will have gotten too far ahead.”

“No one said we had to go at all,” Ami said quietly.

Loena glanced back at her without saying a word. Ami’s mouth twisted up at the corner, mimicking a smile without actually giving one, and she looked down. That conversation had already passed. Keb would need their help. Or they would need to give up the idea of seeing him come home again.

Slowly, Leona took the first step out into the empty street. They were not quite within sight of the edge of town, but they were creeping closer. She put her heel down carefully. She still wasn’t sure if she was afraid of making a sound, or of the brittle feeling of the dark. It could crack under her weight.

Ami stepped lightly behind her, and they slid forward, unsure how thin the starlight actually was.

But it held.

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