Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Snow Queen

Yes, it's Teaser Tuesday! No, this is not from the secret wip. What I have been working on is a short story for my Fiction II class. We had to choose a fairy tale and adapt it. I chose Hans Christian Anderson's story The Snow Queen, and I would love to get some feedback from you guys. You know that I never write contemporary, and I've never tried something like this, so while I like the concept, I'm a little unsure of myself here. I don't workshop for quite a while, so any feedback you feel like giving me is most welcome.

Here are the first two pages or so. I hope you enjoy them!

The Snow Queen

The first day Kade wasn’t in school, Grace didn’t worry. He had been skipping school a lot lately, more and more as the weather got colder, the fierce wind ripping through Manhattan’s streets and sneaking under upturned collars and snug-fitting hats like bony fingers. It was an ice-cold caress that Grace tried to ignore, but this winter, sometimes it seemed that Kade was drawn to it.

She had confronted him about it, once, when he had missed two days in a row at the beginning of November. She had gone to his apartment, one door over from her own, intending to give him a teacher-style lecture about missing school and falling behind on homework and tests, about how that would affect his future in all sorts of bad ways now that he was in high school. But she wound up giving him a different lecture, when she discovered that he was alone in the apartment, sitting on the window ledge in his t-shirt and shorts, leaning into the cold gusts of wind that blew down their street. It might have been funny, if he hadn’t been tipping forward, millimeter by millimeter leaning farther over the dizzying edge, second by second creeping towards a seven-story fall.

What the hell are you doing?!” Grace had shrieked, without thinking.

Kade had turned, surprised to see her, and he wobbled; Grace flung herself forward and hauled his thin frame back through the window, letting him topple onto the floor of his bedroom.

“I like it,” he’d said, grumbling as he rubbed at his head where it had banged on the floor. “I like the cold. It’s like the wind is calling me when I sit out there, asking me to come with her-”

“What are you smoking?” she had asked, automatically turning to his desk, pulling open a drawer to search for something offending, some monstrous white powder that was tearing her childhood friend away from her.

“You’re not my mother, Grace,” he snapped, shoving her away from the desk. “And you don’t care what happens to me any more than she does. You just don’t want your friend to be crazy, to be found broken in a pile on the street because you don’t want any stain on your perfect future-”

“Well, excuse me for saving your life!” she shouted, storming off, making sure to slam the door behind her.

So the first day didn’t worry her. Not when the January wind was coated in snow, when she knew those fingers would lovingly tear at his skin, when the wind would be calling him in a voice that glittered like sun through ice.

But then one day became two, which melted on into three, then four, then a whole week. By Thursday, she was worried, and not just because the seniors were more inclined to knock the stack of books out of her hands when Kade was not around. He had disappeared before, but never for as long as a week.

Friday afternoon, she crept down the hall to his apartment and knocked softly on his green-painted door, a packet of missed assignments tucked under her arm. No one answered the door, and after waiting for five minutes, she turned the knob and let herself in.

Kade’s parents were not home – they were almost never home – but Kade was nowhere to be found either. Grace left the makeup work on the kitchen table and poked her head into Kade’s room. It was a mess, with clothes and books thrown every which way; she found one of his favorite paperbacks sitting in a corner, the cover bent, as though he had tried to find some comfort in it but had hurled it aside. His window was wide open, icicles beginning to drip down towards the sill, and Grace shut it, shivering, not daring to look at the pavement below. Surely if he had fallen, she would have known. She lived next door, as she had all her life – surely someone would tell her.


  1. This is awesome, Caitlin. Really, I was drawn into the story the entire time and the prose was smooth :) Only thing I noticed was the line "as though he had tried to find some comfort in it but had hurled it aside" is a bit tell-y and, in the context, redundant. The description of the book (or adding more description, like dog-eared pages, underlined words) may be enough to convey what that sentence says.

    Hope that's helpful, and good luck with this!

  2. Dude, this is awesome. I love the way you described the wind in the first para, and then lovingly returned to it later with the description of those "fingers". So beautiful :)

  3. Such a creepy idea! I love the use of the winter-y words throughout (like "which melted on into three"), and the main character's voice. Kade's description of her not wanting any "stain" on her perfect future was great too, made me wonder about her and what their relationship was like :)

  4. Ooh, creeptastic! I love the sentence "one day became two, which melted on into three, then four" - MELTED. Ack. I wish I had your brain. So clever. And I'm such a sucker for the boy next door ;)

    You've got me hooked, fo sho. Great work!!