The Majestic Heron

Ivy sat on a wooden bench beneath a bare oak tree as its last flurry of crisp autumn leaves rained down over her green bobble hat. She scribbled away tracing the outline of acorn leaves, all glistening from the frost that had come the night before as the last slither of sunlight dipped beneath the silhouette of forestry.

A lone heron majestically swooped the frozen lake as ducks waddled, skating and prancing over the sweeping ice ponds. Ivy looked up from her notebook resting it on her lap, her black boots were muddied and splattered and she began to twirl a lone stray of auburn hair that had fallen from within her milk braids. The forest around was silent, the last of the gold had fallen to the floor as a solitary squirrel foraged for the last precious acorn.

“Beautiful isn’t it? The first frost. Brings something magical about it.” Ivy turned, the silence broken by Jack as he skipped kicking up the layers of leaves. Wrapped in a black duffle coat, his full charcoal coloured hair almost smothered his diamond blue eyes. With a flash he slipped beside her on the bench and pulled out a tapered candle decorated with vines of silver glitter. “Here, the first of advent soon.” Ivy smiled warmly as she took the candle.

There was a brief moment of silence, both of them watched the yellow band of light slip beneath the horizon. “You know, you ever think the Snow Queen was misunderstood. My mother always warned she was an evil witch who would pierce you with ice, but she always made the landscape look so beautiful. I’d happily turn to ice to admire this everyday.”

“But you’d be an icicle? Trapped in a mirror wasn’t it?” Ivy looked down and continued to aimlessly doodle her leaves. Intrigued by her distraction Jack leaned over and noticed the acorn illustrations that somehow captured the silver sparkle that encased them.

“I’d make conditions with her so that I could keep my sight in return for being her faithful prisoner. Besides, Ivy, you have beautiful drawing skills. Maybe you could teach me snowflakes sometimes.” He returned to his side of the bench and began to aimlessly kick his boots among the leaves.

“Anyone can draw snowflakes, they’re all unique, just draw patterns.” Out the corner of her eye she saw his mischevious smile. “Why are you smiling?”

“Your cheeks are red, just like berries… is that why you were named Ivy?” She smiled snapping her notepad shut, sprung from the bench and began to trudge across the forest floor. Jack turned following her with his eyes before jumping up and running past kicking up the leaves. “Come on, this is the best time of year right? It’s beautiful!”

Pausing for a moment holding her notepad against her chest she laughed, the immature black shadow that pranced and spun among the leaves making himself dizzy, eventually falling to his knees, his eyes wide and cheeks full with glee. Concerned, Ivy ran to his side and gazed down in to those piercing eyes. “Has anyone ever told you that your eyes look like icicles?”

“That’s why Mother called me Jack, after Jack Frost. She was convinced I had an ice sheared in my heart as I was born on the first frost of the year. My eyes stayed this way from birth.” Together they paused, both of them became shadows of the night as a barn owl hopped out onto its perch. The bright Venus began to rise in the sky and each star yawned and slipped out to the black blank canvas.

“This time next year I might be what I always wanted…” Jack whispered, the words fell from between his lips as a plume of condensation followed.

“And what’s that?” Ivy was enchanted by his deep clear eyes, blinking into the dark she noticed that tears had begun to form.

“Just a still ice statue watching as you sit on the bench, a picture perfect painting as nature revolves around the beauty you emboss. Promise me one thing? That you will draw snowflakes for me, each one unique to the other. Just like you, Ivy, are unique to every other person who walks this earth ignoring the beauty that you draw.”

12 Months Later

Through the leaves Ivy skipped, aimlessly kicking them aside swinging her arms as she held tightly onto her worn notepad. The trees shivered their leaves which fell like snow catching on the duffle coat buttons. Her long auburn hair curled over her shoulders and she smiled warmly as a streak of pink appeared across the sky. Ivy reached the bench sitting down, taking in the glittering shimmering landscape of forest trees as the heron bowed before grandly spreading his wings and disappearing into the sunset sky.

For hours she looked round waiting for Jack but there was no sound, just silence.

Out of conscience she doodled snowflake upon snowflake, each one unique, each one shimmering from the moonlight that smiled comfortingly down upon her. Eventually she turned and noticed a snowflake made of paper by her side. Spinning it between her fingers, she felt them turn cold and icy. Behind her she swore she heard Jack but there was nothing, just an echo of the wind.

Then a note appeared in her book, as if written just seconds before.

Jack Frost. A boy we loved and lost so young.

Dancing with the Snow Queen forever.

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