Sharon’s Note: Thanks for reading my Christmas Karma story! This is very loosely based on an old Russian fairy tale that I loved as a kid. It creeped me out, but I read it again and again. This probably explains a lot about adult me. Oh well. Warning: Not your Rankin/Bass Jack Frost.
I acknowledged that it was infinitely colder in other parts of the country, but this was south Texas. It only occasionally dropped below freezing. At night. In the depths of winter. Somehow at four in the afternoon it was twenty-four degrees out and cloudy. Of course, all I had to wear was a windbreaker over my warmest tee-shirt. Thank God I had a decent pair of boots.
It was a half hour walk home from school, which normally I didn’t mind. It would have been longer if I kept to my father’s rules of keeping to the sidewalks instead of cutting through the town cemetery. When Mom died, and I had to move in with Dad and his wife, he’d given lip service to setting rules and boundaries. He hadn’t backed up any of those rules, and we’d barely had a single conversation in the last year.
I’d spoken more with my step-mother, Genie, and step-sister Savanna. Genie often decried that she didn’t want me in her home. She only did the bare minimum for me, which was more than my Dad did. Savanna was used to being an only child and resented the hell out of me. She often screamed at me and stole my things. My step-sister was also getting a ride today while I had to walk because, as Genie informed me, I was not her responsibility. It was the last day of school before the holiday break, and I couldn’t even get a little Christmas charity.
Frost and dead grass crunched under my feet as I stomped across the cemetery’s lawn. There was a guy across the cemetery in a weird blue homespun t-shirt making a snowman over one of the graves. My first thought was that he was crazy or high, because he had to be freezing in the snow, and, you know, building a snowman on a grave.
He turned and looked at me, head cocked to the side like a curious raptor. In a quick, easy lope, he crossed the distance to me. I was a little nervous watching the guy approach so quickly, and my nerves were not soothed when he stopped three feet in front of me. He didn’t look right. Oh, he was handsome enough, but his hair and eyes were ice white, and his features were unnaturally sharp.
“Now why is a pretty girl like you wandering off to freeze among the dead?” His grin was predatory.
“Oh, you know, just trying to get home so I don’t freeze.” I forced a smile.
“Why aren’t you wearing a heavier coat?” He began to circle me like a shark. “You are cold, aren’t you?”
“Ah, I’m a Texan. We don’t get cold.” I chuckled, more nervous than amused. “Honestly, I don’t have another coat.”
“Poor thing.” The man said, but there was more contemplation than pity in his voice. “So what is such a pretty girl doing in walking alone in this kind of weather?”
I shrugged. “Couldn’t get a ride.”
“You don’t realize how much you say with your few words and humor. You are cold and hurting, and that has nothing to do with the snow.” He reached out a hand and brushed at my hair without touching my skin.
“Yeah, well I lost someone not that long ago and my home situation isn’t really ideal.”
“Is someone hurting you?” An icy wind cut across the cemetary like a blade and his eyes glittered menacingly.
I shuddered, not sure if it was actually getting colder or if I was just afraid. “No, nothing like that. We just don’t get along. It’s fine, though. I’m getting a job once the spring semester starts so I can save up some money to move out once I graduate. Things will be better then.”
He considered this for a moment before asking, “So you need money to make things better?”
“Well, yeah.” I watched in bafflement as he reached behind his back and produced a brown leather pouch and tossed it at me. It clinked as I caught it. “What’s this?”
“Gold. I’m assuming that humans still use it. I’ve seen shops with signs saying they buy it. There should be enough in there to benefit you at least somewhat. In bygone eras, that was enough gold to make up a sizable dowery. I don’t know if that is still a thing, but if it is, find yourself someone kind. You seem like a good girl who deserves it.”
“Um, thanks.” I hefted the bag, wonder where he’d gotten it, and if it was really full of gold. He leaned in causing me to start, his eyes sparkled playfully.
“If I thought you could take the cold, I might marry you myself. You are pretty and brave. You do amuse me. Unfortunately, I fear the slightest touch of my lips would chill you to the . . . bone.” The last word he murmured so close to my own lips that his breath tickled across them creating a light frost. My stomach dropped. Nothing human was cold like that.
“What. . . who are you?” I whispered, lips so cold they could barely form the words.
He pulled away with a delighted bray. The wind picked up again, this time so hard it ripped snow from the ground in a small blizzard. Among the screaming of the brief gale I heard the name, Jack. When the wind died down a moment later, he was gone.
I don’t think I ever made better time on the way home, running the entire way. I didn’t tell anyone that I met Jack Frost in the local cemetery. The bag he’d given me was full of assorted gold coins. I hid them under my mattress, because he was right. You could sell gold at any pawn shop.
Predictably, Sierra found the coins. She’d been going through my things again while I was taking a shower to warm up. She threatened to hand them over to my step-mother if I didn’t tell her where I’d gotten them, so I told her the whole story. I warned her not to go to the cemetery until the weather warmed up. I even offered to split the coins with her if she just stayed inside. She threw the pouch back at me and said that she didn’t need my gold before stomping out of my room.
I should have known what Sierra was going to do, but I think my brain was still partially frozen. When she didn’t come down for breakfast in the morning, we all thought she was just sleeping in. The cops showed up around noon. She’d been found frozen to death in the cemetery. Apparently she hadn’t been as amusing as me.