The 2015 Flash Fiction Flurries Award for Third Place goes to “Snowcastles” by Daley Rose.
Flash Fiction by Daley Rose
(983 words, 5 of 5 bonus words)
They say that you can’t hide from your past, but I was certainly going to try. Unfortunately, for me it meant taking cover in mini Sydney Opera house of snow.
When I left home four years ago, I never figured that I would be back here hiding from the man I ran away from to begin with.
I didn’t really run away from him. I went for a good job in Texas. He just didn’t want to go with me. So I went anyway. I was bored.
And if he wanted to be with me, he should come along, right?
That’s what I was sticking with.
Besides, it gets really, really cold here every year. Yuck.
I listened to families strolling through the field of sculptures to the backdrop of holiday music. My mother organized this event, and taken inspiration from the Sandcastle competition I told her about every year. Since Indiana is a long way from the coast, and is regularly up to their eyeballs in snow, she translated our competition into something more appropriate.
Though I would argue that this setting isn’t nearly as fun.
(1) Swimsuits are not an option.
(2) It’s too cold to even drink a cocktail, for heaven’s sake.
My lovely mother, in her of-course-you-will-do-this way, “volunteered” me to organize this Snowcastle contest over the holidays in our little town. We had a lot of nostalgia, though there wasn’t much left in our three-block downtown. Somehow my architecture degree made me the most perfect person to oversee the construction of a dozen architectural wonders to help bring a little magic back into our very own Small Town USA.
Because snow performed exactly like the steel studs we really used in construction, of course.
I had organized the building of the manger scene before arriving, and planned on doing all the implementation from behind the scenes.
I was stellar at project management. Just not life management. Or love management.
But maybe that was the problem, and love couldn’t get managed at all.
I just showed up tonight because I had to, to appease my mother.
Luckily, I was told Luke had moved over to Ohio two years ago and hadn’t been back, so I was safe, right?
I caught sight of his frame silhouetted by the twinkling lights on the barns to the side of the field. I would know that stride anywhere. It haunted my dreams. Literally.
He was tall, and always had been, but never an awkward tall. He had always fit well in his body, even when he told me he loved me for the first time when we were seven and tossing apples in the backyard. Luke as an old soul, comfortable in his skin and knowing what he wanted, and how to best get it. Always so confident. He was so well balanced that it made me want to vomit. His being unflappable and solid was probably what made me run to Texas. He was too together.
Who is that together in their 20s?? Not this girl.
Getting older complicates things, complicates people, and now I was freezing my ass off trying to avoid the only man I ever really wanted, since even before I could talk.
I wondered if I could reach the Eiffel Tower without being spotted. Or maybe the other way toward Seattle’s Public Library?
Over the last few years I had done a good job of putting Luke out of my head. I dated, socialized, flirted, and had a great time. A really great time. But none of the guys that came into my orbit clicked with me in the way that I wanted. In the way that I knew existed, because I had experienced it.
And that was probably where it all went wrong. I hadn’t stood a chance since I was three years old, had I?
Was this destiny?? Ohmigod. What was I doing?
Standing there in the cold, the knowledge of what was right, really and truly right for me, settled in like the cold in my bones.
He had called. And called, and called.
I had ignored him.
Sometimes I wondered if I was being irrational, but I had drawn my line. I couldn’t go back. No waffling.
Even though I now knew I wanted to.
I peered around the edge of the snow wall and ducked right back in. He was five feet from me, facing the other way. But whoever built this structure had made it inhabitable, like a cave, so I could sneak out the other side and head to the car.
Denial was my middle name tonight! So sue me.
Slowly so as not to crunch snow, I backed into the cave to round toward the exit on the other side. As my body started to lighten with relief, a shadow covered the opening and my heart skipped a beat. I would have to dodge whoever it was.
Pulling the bigger than necessary hood down over my eyes, I kept my eyes on the ground as I stepped out of the sculpture to skirt the human obstacle, heading toward a sleigh that would provide visual cover as I hightailed it to the car.
An arm flew out in front of me and hooked across my chest. I froze, refusing to look anywhere but my car. The sleigh, draped with strings of cockleshells in tribute to these could-be sandcastles, taunted me.
The one word, uttered softly, brought me all the way home. It warmed my insides as I slowly turned to look into the eyes that had always been home for me.
He smiled his slow smile that always melted me, and held out his arms.
I let the magic of the holidays and the lights and the music wash over me. The holidays are a time for love, aren’t they? And for coming home.
So I would embrace both.
Trained in Architecture, Daley Rose left a life of construction documents, details, and material specifications for research and footnote-filled writing.
She firmly believes that architects are a different breed (that they proudly admit), and a little off-kilter, but it’s something amazing. And there are so many stories to be told… so that’s her new effort.
She lives with her wonderfully tolerant husband, two kids, a Grammie, two cats, and two hermit crabs in North Carolina.