by Trisha M. Cowen
When she was sure the lake could hold the boy’s weight, she helped him to tie his skates and watched as he stood at the edge with his arms outstretched like a tight-rope walker. She remained atop a snow drift while he went out onto the hardened winter’s water. His tongue stuck out in concentration and she saw him as a toddler again, learning how to walk. He toppled and fell and she watched from the shore as he crawled and then lay on the ice with his face towards the sky. He turned over and brushed a thin layer of snow from the frozen crust with his mittens and peeked at the life below, through the shell that if cracked would devour him. His mother shivered on the shore, hugging her jacket to her chest.
The boy skated, hesitantly, back to his mother, his eyes wide.
I’ve seen my future, the boy said.
What does it look like? she asked and he shrugged. Am I in it?
He put his pointer finger to his lips and whispered, it’s a secret.
She helped him remove his skates and they walked back towards the house. An igloo they had made together hours ago was standing in the snow-covered yard. She started to run and the boy, with his small feet, followed behind. It had taken them hours to form the circular white walls of the igloo, the small winter’s womb. He had cut the wet snow into rectangles with a shovel, while she carried them to the center of the lawn and piled them, one atop the other until there was enough to sculpt the snow into a circle, until there was enough for a roof.
When he caught up to her, she told the boy to go inside. She told the boy to wait there. She told the boy not to come out until he was grown.
Trisha Cowen works as an Assistant Professor of English at Westminster College in Pennsylvania. She received her doctoral degree in Literature and Creative Writing at Binghamton University (SUNY) after completing a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. She previously worked as the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Harpur Palate. Her creative work has appeared in The Portland Review, Bitter Oleander Press, and Solstice Magazine of Diverse Voices, among many others. She is also the author of the chapbook Mobiles in the Sky (2014), published by Gertrude Press.