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  • Melting
    Kaydi Chou
    11 Jul 2004

    It was a cold, cold day, and Lyra sat with her pale shoulders hunched against an icy blast that came from the North. She was the only person outside in the freezing weather and was probably the only living thing above ground for many miles. However, this strange little girl with the large and dark curly locks did not make any sign of distress. She did not shiver, shudder, nor even quiver. Even as evanescent white crystals of ice began to fall onto her equally white cheeks, she just touched them with her cold finger one by one, letting her body's eerie childish warmth melt each tiny snowflake. She was like one of those flurrying little flecks of white- tiny, cold, different, and expiring all too quickly.

    From somewhere far away, Lyra heard a faint voice calling her name. It was a gentle voice with rounded edges that seemed to jingle like little bells in a loud, loud wind. Lyra shivered against that warm voice, which was filled with honey, candy canes, and hot chocolate. She wanted nothing to do with that syrupy voice. Nothing.

    The voice bade her come inside. Lyra did not obey. She sat instead in the building snow, ignoring her mother's plea. Lyra was a child of the snow. She knew this fact quite simply, like how an adult knows that he or she is always wiser than a child, no matter what the younger person opposing them says or understands.

    Lyra's mother, on the other hand, refused to accept that Lyra was an ice child. She would not have a snow princess for a daughter. She would have a warm, normal child, even if it took the rest of her life to beat it into Lyra. Whether it was beating her with frilly bows, pastel cardigans, or a new car on her sixteenth birthday, Lyra's mother would beat it into her.

    The blonde woman came out into the shivering cold. It was snowing and yet, the sun was out. However, rather than being cheerful and lovely, the sun itself felt cold and harsh, as if glaring upon the dismal ground with a vehement hatred. It was like the bright yellow orb was saying that she was better than the Earth that depended so heavily on her. Pulling her faux-fur coat closer about her shoulders, Lyra's mother noted how much she hated the awful cold that the North wind brought. She herself was like the bright and shining sun, relentlessly plowing forward with her light, spreading obvious warmth and joy to everyone she knew. Lyra would get a bit of her mother's sun into herself. Yes, the mother'd beat her sun into Lyra, even if it drained all the sun out of herself.

    "Lyra! Child! Come inside!" Her smooth voice flowed, like satin over skin. Even harsh words sounded like music inside Lyra's mother's throat. And all the neighborhood kids loved Lyra's mother. They thought she was some kind of angel or goddess. Lyra hated her mother, just like how she hated the sun.

    The majestic woman stretched out her hand, long, strong, and powerful fingers gripping the child's arm firmly like hot steel. Unlike Lyra's icy touch, her mother's hand flowed with warmth and life. But all the same, it felt uncomfortably hot. Lyra tried to shrug her mother's hand off, but her effort was useless. The hand seemed to have melted itself onto the little girl's flesh. Lyra struggled, but her mother would not let go.

    "Lyra, why won't you come inside? There we have cookies and milk, and Daddy even bought you a new Barbie doll to play with," the mother smiled sweetly, letting every one of her perfect white teeth show. Each one of those teeth was like fangs to Lyra. She knew that if she got close enough to them, they would tear at her black and somber clothes, her unearthly white skin, and her silent sense of individuality. In her mind, Lyra told herself she must never go near those pearly whites, lest she be eaten alive by her own mother.

    "Well?" Lyra's mother prompted, smiling wider. To many untrained eyes, this smile was kind and gentle, wrapping the little girl with warmth. To Lyra, the smile was smothering her and all too fake to believe. Her mother was not a happy woman. Beautiful, brilliant, and warmer than a small flame in the wind, but like the flame, her mother was not happy at all. She was angry. Angry because she had been given a snow child when she herself was so much like the sun.

    And then, remembering that her mother had asked her if she wished to go inside, Lyra shook her head no; however, as she shook her head, her black curls stood unnaturally straight. This made Lyra's mother frown. Curls were not supposed to sit still while the head was shaking. They were supposed to bounce and sway, like the springs that they were modeled after.

    "Why not?" her mother responded, not letting her anger show. She would not damage this ice child with anger. She would give the girl all the warmth and love she could give. She could and would never be the mother of a cold ice child. The thought was too unbearable to even consider the condition as long lasting.

    "I like the cold," Lyra said simply, like a little adult. It was strange and eerie, hearing such a grown-up tone being used by someone so small.

    "Well, I like you inside, love. Come on," Lyra's mother ssaid, still smiling. She picked up the girl without a moment's hesitation and paused for just a spilt-second. She didn't feel the girl struggle, as she had been doing for the past few years. Perhaps today would be the day. Perhaps it would be the day when Lyra would become the girl her mother wanted- a poster child of the Abercrombie and Fitch generation, the quintessential daughter of pink cardigans, golden puppies, and more proportionally accurate Barbie dolls. Perhaps Lyra's mother wouldn't have to beat cheerfulness and "normal" into Lyra after all.

    Once inside the suburban brick house, Lyra's mother stripped her daughter of the fluffy black outerwear she wore. Frowning at the even darker clothes underneath, she tossed them aside like filthy rags before picking up a carefully folded and laundered lavender sweater. White letters stood out boldly on the front- the letters G, A and P, all in that order.

    "I don't know how you get those black clothes, Lyra. Black is not a color for little girls to wear. Now, this lavender sweater is much more appropriate. Honestly," Lyra's mother grinned, flashing her daughter a happy little smile. She saw her daughter cringe, ignored it, and continued with her spoken thought, saying, "It suits little girls much better. Plus, I got it from the GAP. All the other little girls wear stuff like this. Especially little Nicole from down the street. You should try, and be like Nicole. After all, being normal is fun, you know?"

    Lyra shook her head, frowning at the warmth and cheeriness of her mother and at the smothering and foreboding sense that the sweater brought. Lyra's mother thought she was answering her question instead, question of whether she knew being normal was fun or not.

    "Well, I know it's fun. I also know what's best for my little girl! Come here, dear," her mother grinned. Lyra stood where she was, close enough for her mother to see the cold cloud over her face, but far enough so the mother's warmth and chosen sweater could not reach her. So, Lyra's mother got up on her knees and shuffled over to her daughter. Then, smiling and singing a nursery-rhyme song, she forced Lyra into the sweater. Or perhaps, she was forcing the sweater onto Lyra.

    "Now, don't you look precious?" Lyra's mother asked, clasping her hands together and holding them near her heart, as if the image shook her inner being with happiness. Lyra shrugged, not knowing if she looked precious or not. All she knew was that she felt out of place in this warm home with gingerbread scents in the air, dressed in the light purple sweater her mother delighted in so much.

    Perhaps, Lyra thought, her mother would be more satisfied if she were merely a picture on the wall, dressed in all white, smiling, and dancing about in a garden full of daisies along with a large group of other children. Though this thought was only meant as a whim, Lyra knew it had more truth to it than she would let herself believe.

    "Lyra? Why don't you want to be normal?" her mother smiled, dragging her daughter into her arms and holding the cold and frail frame there. Lyra felt her mother's pulsing heart strong near her own faint one, and in a strange part of her, Lyra wanted that heart to pulse not just for her, but to her. Lyra slowly pulled her frail and ghostly white arm out from between herself and her mother and then held her small hand before her own eyes, examining it.

    The hand was rough with the dryness of cold, and the nails were bitten, dirty, and ugly. Like you, a little voice in the back of her mind sang tauntingly, Ugly just like you. Lyra felt a tear escape from her before she could help it. Like her insides, the tear was cold, and she felt some of her life go with it.

    "Mommy," Lyra sniffled. Never before had she used that word, and even now it felt like blasphemy on her lips. Gulping, she felt the steely strong arms draw her small form away from her mother.

    "Why dear, you're crying!" Lyra's mother exclaimed, beautiful face momentarily shadowed with concern. Lyra didn't want that face clouded. She'd do anything to make the shadow go away. If her mother's shining face clouded, it made the woman seem too much like Lyra. Too much like the ice child the mother didn't want.

    "Mommy! I want to be normal! I want to be pretty! Anything for you Mommy!" Lyra cried, burying her small face into her mother's neck and throwing her arms around the strong, yet swan-like structure. Lyra's mother smiled softly. It was the smile of a woman who had just won a battle, or better noted as the smile of a woman who had finally gotten what she wanted. Either way, the shadow was gone and deep inside the mother and daughter both, they knew Lyra would change.

    Even as Lyra's mother drew the small girl away from her once more, she could see the dark hair lightening into a pale gold and the black and bottomless eyes turning into a bright and sparkly blue, two characteristics trademarked by both the girl's mother and father.

    The change itself appeared to be magic. And Lyra's mother smiled because she had finally beaten her sunshine into Lyra. She had done what she had thought would be near impossible since the first day she held the small baby, quite and solemn in her arms.

    Then, Lyra smiled for the second time in her life. The first was when she had gone out to play in the snow, and that smile had been distant and chilling to Lyra's mother. Now, the girl's smile was warm, child-like, and sweet- just like the mother's. That thought made Lyra's mother smile even wider. As she did so, she felt her daughter raise her tiny fingers to touch her mother's perfect white teeth.

    Lyra giggled, and she tapped a now clean nail on the pearly enamel in delight. Those teeth were beautiful, like her mother. Normal and bright, and just what Lyra wanted to be. How could she ever have thought those teeth looked like fangs? Her mother kissed her sweet little fingers, and hugged the little girl even tighter.

    However, somewhere deep inside Lyra, something itched. It scratched at the surface and at the smile Lyra was wearing, desperate to get out into the light. And Lyra knew what it was. It was her thoughts.

    Lyra knew she had lost. She had given in to her mother's expectations. She had forfeited all her right to her birth-given individuality. Lyra had let go of the individuality she had clung desperately to for six years and was now no longer a snow child. She was instead a child of her mother and what her mother wanted. She had become Lyra the Normal from Lyra the Cold in but a few minutes.

    Even now, Lyra felt her skin turn warm and her toes tickle with a strange heat, and perhaps, she noted with delight, even her skin pigment would darken a bit from ghostly white to be gently tan and flushed. But, Lyra forced individuality and changes put into a bad shade out of her mind. She would only look at it as good. Lyra was like everyone else now, which was what her mother wanted. Anything for you Mommy… The words echoed, but nothing in Lyra understood them. She was gone, never to return to who she truly was. And the worst, or best, part was that she liked it way.