Of Ice and Smells

Image: “Frozen Pond” © nighttree. SourceCC Licence.

Author: Katharina Schwarck

“Are you sure you want to go further?”, I ask my best friend Daphne as she, not carefully enough, walks over the frozen pond in the forest behind my house where we are playing. It smells of cold. “Of course. This is solid.” It’s getting dark soon and we have to be home at six. It’s December and like every year I get a new Christmas hat from my grandma. My mum keeps telling me that one day I will stop liking them but I still like them and I cannot imagine ever not liking them. Actually, I’m wearing it right now. This year, it’s green with red seams and a little elf with a red hat who waves at people when I look at them. I’ve named him Bobo. I look down to my feet. With one leg, I am still standing on steady soil and with the other I’m standing on the frozen pond. In summer, I make friends with the little frogs who live here. I’m a bit scared of breaking through but Daphne can’t know that I’m scared. “Are you reaaally sure?”, I insist. Maybe she knows I’m a little scared now. She takes another step and starts poking around in the ice with a stick.
SPLASH.
The ice breaks and we’re both drenched in muddy and very cold water. I scream a little. “It’s so cold!”, I say, trying not to let my voice get too high-pitched. I move my hands around. Everything is so cold and sticky. I am trembling. “Oh, come on”, Daphne says, gets a grip of her stick and pulls me up. I’m almost crying. We get to solid grass. My gloves are floating in the half-broken ice. Bobo is on the ground, covered in muddy snow. I hide my face so Daphne cannot see how worried I am for Bobo. This is such a bad day. We pick up our stuff. “We should probably go home?”, I ask. Daphne nods. We start running towards my house. “Do you think they will be mad?”, we wonder.
The way isn’t far but it has never seemed further. I have never been this cold in my whole entire life, and I’m the third-oldest in my class. When we get to the door, I am so scared to ring the doorbell. I can barely move my hands. Daphne looks at the doorbell expectantly, so I ring it. My grandma opens. “Oh my god, girls! What happened to you?” I start crying. “Oh, but it’s okay.” She starts laughing. “Everything is okay.” She brings us upstairs, takes all of our clothes off. I show her Bobo while rubbing my eye. “Don’t worry my love”, she says, “I’ll make him beautiful and healthy again”. She kneels down to hug me. Grandma smells of home, and warmth, and Christmas. She’s wearing a pink cashmere pullover that soothes into my skin. She gets up again, winks and leaves Daphne and me to take a bath. First everything is a bit awkward but then we can feel our hands again and we play with bubbles and the shampoo that stings in our noses and eyes when it gets too close. “There was a monster in the pond and it came out like this!” Daphne gesticulates while holding a bubble dragon between her hands. “Whooosh, whoosh”, she moves it up and down. “And you beat it like this”, I say, “pfouuuuh”. “And then we helped each other out like heroes!”. She sprays some bubbles on my head and I smell pink and fruity. I grin. We come downstairs in freshly washed bathrobes that smell of white and clean and cosy. When I enter the living room, I am hit by a wave of home and feel good and family. I can hear the oven buzzing, I see some dough rests in the kitchen. My grandma brings us tea. “How are my two princesses? You were proper mud queens!”, so we tell her about the pond monster and about how we helped each other like mud heroes. “Now that’s just wonderful”. She smiles. We take our cups of tea and start staring into the fire that is burning in the chimney. It is properly dark now. My hands are getting just hot enough on my bunny cup. I put my face right above it so the tea heats it too. I recognise the tea. It’s called “evening sweetness” and it’s my favourite. It is round and sweet and yet spicy. But not too much. It is just right. Not many people like it. There is too much going on they say. But I love it. Daphne feeds me a warm cookie. It melts in my mouth as the chocolate chips reach my taste buds. I close my eyes while listening to the crackling sound of the wood. There’s a little fir spiciness in there as well. Maybe grandma is burning a branch of a pine tree or something. Daphne puts her head on my shoulder. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad day after all…

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