“Don’t go out too far.” Alice’s mother warned. “There are monsters in the forest.”
Alice may be a child, but she knew that monsters didn’t exist. Monsters were for fairytales and scary sleepover stories. She reassured her mother anyway. “I won’t!” she promised. Her mother went back in the house, and Alice could smell apple pie and gingerbread and pine needles through the door. She turned her back to the house, surveying the large backyard for a good snowman-building or angel-making spot. She bounded across the yard, her boots crunching against the freshly fallen snow and her blonde pigtails swishing this way and that. Each of her breaths could be seen in the biting air. Her puffy pink coat made it hard to move her arms, but she kept going.
She was near the edge of the forest now. She remembered her mother’s warning and was about to turn back, but something strange caught her eye. There was an indent in the snow a few feet away, just beyond the edge of the forest. Alice stepped closer, and she could see that it was circular, and very large. Big round prints led away from it, following a narrow path deeper into the woods.
Alice’s curiosity got the better of her, and ignoring her mother’s voice in her head, she followed the tracks, making indents of her own in the snow. She tried matching her steps exactly with the prints, but they were too far apart for her short legs and small feet. She kept going, deeper and deeper into the forest. After a while, the prints wandered off the path. The tall tree trunks surrounded her, their sprawling snow-covered branches cutting jagged lines into the clouds. As she walked, little birds flitted from branch to branch, whistling to each other melodically. Squirrels and rabbits skittered between snowcapped bushes, scrounging for food.
Then music, sharp and brilliant, overshadowed the sounds of nature. It echoed through the trees, enveloping Alice in its melancholy tune. It was almost ethereal in the winter scene, and Alice sped ahead, intent on finding the source of that beautiful sound. She ran along the tracks, winding around trees and clambering over a log, until finally she stumbled into a large clearing. The music stopped abruptly, and Alice found that she missed the sound. The air felt colder without the ringing of the notes.
The clearing was empty except for a large log lying in the middle of it, with a huge mound of snow piled on top. Except it wasn’t just a mound of snow. Upon closer inspection, Alice could make out the shape of a body, round-like but irregular, with stubby legs and thin, sharp arms, almost icicles. The creature had no eyes, but Alice could tell it was looking at her. She could see the glint of a silver flute lying in the snow next to it. She stood at the edge of the clearing, hesitant. Was it dangerous? Would it hurt her? Surely snow monsters aren’t very nice. But there was no such thing as monsters. And surely a monster wouldn’t be able to play the flute so beautifully. So she stepped away from the safety of the trees and walked bravely up to the snow creature. Its head followed her as she approached, but it didn’t move from its seat on the log.
The silver flute sparkled in the snow, and Alice bent over to pick it up. The creature didn’t do anything. It watched as she inspected it, turning it this way and that in her small, glove covered hands. She held it to her mouth, lining the hole up with her lips. She blew out, her cheeks puffed with the effort. Nothing happened. Disappointed, Alice looked up at the creature. It was at least five feet taller than her, and she had to crane her neck back to see its face. Even though it didn’t have eyes or a nose or a mouth, she could tell it was amused. It was laughing at her. She could just tell. She brought the flute back to her lips, determined to get a sound out of it. Nothing happened.
The flute was plucked out of her hands, and she lifted her arms up, jumping to try and get the flute back from the creature. But then it brought the flute up to its “face”, and suddenly the music was back. And Alice was enchanted. She stopped jumping, dropping her arms and staring at the creature in awe. She stepped back, closed her eyes, and listened to the mellow notes swirl through the air, filling up the empty spaces. She let the music wrap around her, her heart floating in her chest. Alice hummed along to the tune, moving along with the gently swaying tempo. Her body tilted and her arms twirled in the air, and soon the clearing was marked with the imprints of her dancing feet. Twittering birds joined in, and together they created a bright sound that soared over the trees and painted the sky in dazzling oranges and pinks. Hours passed and the air grew colder, but still they played on, the music warming their souls.
How is a snow creature that doesn’t have a mouth or fingers able to play the flute, you may be asking. And the answer to that question is: don’t worry about it.
Considering Halloween is only a week away, I should probably be writing spooky pieces instead of wintery ones. Oh well.
Inspired by this writing prompt.
Snow monsters in Japan.