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vol iv, issue 6 < ToC
Ice
by
Jennifer Lee Rossman
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Marked andGodly
OwnedBusiness
Ice
by
Jennifer Lee Rossman
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Marked and
Owned




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Godly
Business
Ice
by
Jennifer Lee Rossman
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Marked and Godly
OwnedBusiness
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Marked and
Owned




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Godly
Business
Ice  by Jennifer Lee Rossman
Ice
 by Jennifer Lee Rossman
I was born in a storm.

Rain crashing down on the windshield, gale force wind rocking the car on the edge of a highway while lightning strikes all around, lighting the scene like strobes. Thunder rolled over us, drowning out my first cries.

No, I was born from a storm; the thunder was my first cries.

*     *     *
I stood in a rain so heavy that the individual drops merged into a single beast pressing down on my body. My clothing clung to me, sticking and peeling with every heaving breath.

I don't remember how far I'd run, or for how long. I just know I couldn't go back.

I looked over my shoulder but the rain was static. Were they coming? Was that the sound of their dogs hidden by the lullaby of thunder?

Electricity arced between my fingers, the anger and desperation buzzing and begging for a release. Everything they had done, all the experiments, flashed before my eyes, and the sparks grew brighter.

My soul was too exhausted to fight it. With a scream that rumbled from deep in my chest, the rage burst.

Blinding, furious light staircased up to meet the clouds.

*     *     *
I was seven the first time I exploded.

A girl on the playground was teasing me, saying I was adopted and my streaked white hair made me look like a freak. She called me names and my hands tingled.

I hid them behind my back. Angry sparks were okay at home, but at school I had to hide my feelings, stuff them deep, deep down.

She said I was a baby for crying, but the tears were from the pain. The skin on my hands was burning.

The heat crept up my face. When she made fun of my clothes—heat resistant and handmade by my Ma—it was too much to handle.

I remember a flash, a pop as the air burst around me.

Then I was floating.

*     *     *
The storm clouds receded, leaving streaks of red sunset in their wake. The lake, my body, reflected it like a jewel.

My molecules spread out through the water, cold and dark but home. I was aware of every one of the billions of particles that made me, all the ripples and darting fish that swam through me.

That is how I wanted to be, always. My natural state, floating through the rain cycle and traveling the world. Spending time in a lazy pond, then up, up, up, back to the clouds before joining a river as it crashed over a waterfall. Bring life to a desert, then go up north and freeze.

Ice. I would become ice, unchanging ice that couldn't explode.

But I could already feel it, the magnetic pull of my water. It always found itself, bonding together at the surface until my body reformed.

I floated though my bones felt heavy. When I drifted to shore, I hauled myself out. The evening was warm on my bare skin. With any luck, I'd traveled far enough and they wouldn't find me.

Water slicked off my humanity with disgust, abandoning me like everyone else.

I must be oil. Looks like water, runs through your fingers like water, but not water. No matter how much you mix, the water always rejects the oil.

*     *     *
The first time I exploded, I traveled the clouds as vapor and came to in a puddle in North Carolina.

No one believed my story.

Police, social workers. When did you last see your daughter? How did she end up across the country? Who would want to kidnap her?

Ma lied. I don't know what stories she told them, but they believed her. All except the bad men.

They found gaps in the story. The time I was last seen at the playground, the time I showed up thousands of miles away... No way to drive that fast, and flights to North Carolina had been rerouted due to storms.

They didn't make that connection yet. They only knew I was special.

*     *     *
I knew now, looking over my shoulder with every step, how scared Ma must have been. Always running, never settling down.

A girl who explodes can't have friends, or even go out in public. One rude person and— boom—I'm a river in Mexico.

The darkness hid me, but they'd find me soon enough. They always found me, no matter how far I ran or where my rain fell.

Ma stopped trying to find me first a long time ago.

I ran until the sun came up and my legs gave out. The dew on the grass held me as the helicopters thrummed in. I tried to become vapor, just burn off and fly away as morning humidity, but the anger at being captured again could only simmer as exhaustion took over.

*     *     *
The first time they caught me, I was ten.

They tracked the weather patterns, drained the pool I'd rained in. I woke in a dark room, my molecules separated into different tubs.

Pain, like nothing I'd felt. Exploding, with all its heat and energy and tearing apart of my atoms, didn't compare to an extended separation of my own body. I kept almost forming—an eyeball, a limb—only to have my surface tension fail and my body fall back into the water.

I tried evaporating, but they kept it so humid.

Time stood still, an eternity of that quivering moment waiting for a drop to fall from a leaf as they siphoned me and put me under microscopes.

They froze part of me once. That was the only time I felt peace, knowing I couldn't explode. But then I melted, and the hot anguish I couldn't release returned.

I thought the experiments would never end, and if they' d had their way, I don't think they would have.

*     *     *
They wanted me to explode, to be water they could collect and study. I was no use to them as a girl, so I stayed a girl through all their psychological torture.

Your mother doesn't love you.

Deep breath in. One, two, three. And out, one, two three. Let it take the heat away.

She left you. Abandoned you.

Feel the anger fizzle away, the electricity go back into your skin. Like Ma taught me, because she wanted to protect me. Just like why she left, because they could track her.

And that was love. Brutal love, like life-giving water that floods and washes away the crops. Like lightning, beautiful and deadly in equal parts.

The fury grew in me, my fires stoked by their words. I worried they had her here, imprisoned like me, but she was too smart for that.

I let the anger build, but I didn't explode yet.

*     *     *
The first time I escaped them, I was cold water.

In the sweltering heat, the tanks they kept me in started to sweat. The misty condensation built up, the heavy drops quivering in anticipation before slicing down the glass.

I rode the drops, met myself in a puddle. They weren't expecting to find a girl when they opened the door.

I ran.

*     *     *
I had never felt so hot. Boiling sweat left burn marks down my neck, my fingers arced like loose wiring.

Their words melted away. They couldn't hurt me.

But I could hurt them.

*     *     *
The last time I exploded, you could see the blast from miles away.

The thunder was my war cry.

I left the rubble of their lab behind and sailed the atmosphere. I became rain, a lake, a rushing river of rapids.

And then I was hail, pinging down on the frozen tundra. I melted just enough for my molecules to find myself.

And then, finally and forever, I was ice.

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