The Snow Maiden

I was always a straight B student. Because a C made me look dumb and an A wasn't worth the effort. Scoring an A is for suckers. This pissed off the wrong people (my parents), so I was punished by being sent out here: a village in the snow country. But instead of building character, I met this village's darkest secret: the girl in the snow. She was dead and she changed my life. - UPDATES EVERY MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY!

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Author's note

My latest story! I think it's the best yet :)
AA

4. Chapter 4

"Are you OK?" I asked.


Dumb question, I know. Obviously she wasn't OK. Hell, she was lucky to be alive. She sat on her pile of snow. She tilted her head slightly and asked, "Who are you?" 


"Huh?" I didn't answer. Her Japanese was perfect. And yet there was something odd about the way she spoke. Something in her voice just didn't sound right. Like it felt hollow in a way. But she didn't seem to be abnormal — other than her paint-like black hair, her snow white kimono and her piercing blue eyes. 


She held the cans of milk tea in her hands, waiting for my answer. 


"Who are you?" I asked. 


She said nothing. 


"Why are you here?" 


Nothing. 


"Did someone hurt you?" 


That final question finally got a reaction out of her. She put a finger to her lips and seemed to think, then she smiled ruefully and shrugged. 


What kind of answer was that? Maybe the cold had frozen her brain? Yes, that might be it. 


I put her arm around my shoulder and lifted her up. I said, "Alright, come on. We should go see doctor. I think there’s one in the village." 


Her body was incredibly light, like a feather, like a ray of light. But I was sure that she was real: my hands were definitely feeling her slim shoulders. Based on past experience, I can categorically conclude that she is a female member of the human race. 


She seemed to go along with me, but as soon as I mentioned the word 'village' she resisted. 


“What?" I let go of her. She sat down on the pile of snow, her tranquil expression suddenly disturbed by a storm of emotions: pain, dread, memories only she might know. 


I sighed. What a pain. But at least she has some strength in her. Which meant that at least for now, she was fine. Kind of. Maybe. I can't be sure because I'm not a doctor, only a straight B student. Maybe I could become a straight B doctor. I'm sure that would reassure my patients. 


I sat down on next to her on the snow pile and took a can out of her hands. I opened it and took a gulp. The warm liquid like glowing ember in my stomach. 


I said, "My name is Yamata Satoshi. I'm 17 years-old. I don't live here, but my aunt does and I came here to visit her for the winter holidays. I live in Tokyo." 


That more or less summed up my 17 years of life. The funny thing is that for most people the summary will stay the same. Maybe add two more lines: attended XXX university with a degree in XXX, worked for XXX company and then laid to rest in a casket made from XXX wood. 


The girl said, "Mhmm..." 


"And what's your name?" 


"My name..." She glanced at me and then turned her attention upwards. She peered at the spotless blue, her eyes one with the sky. A moment of utter silence. No birds, no deer, no falling snowflakes. As though nature itself respected her presence. Then she said, "I don't have a name." 


What?! I blinked. She was lying. In the moment when she was looking up, she was thinking, contemplating her answer. If she really didn't have a name, she should have tried to remember first and maybe look a little confused. But when she looked up at the sky, she was completely at peace. But why was she lying? 


"I don't believe you," I said. 


She turned to me, her expression vague, her eyes a bottomless pool of sky. "Yamata-kun? Can I call you that?" 


"Sure." 


"What are you doing out here?" she asked. 


So she was asking the questions now. Alright, I decided to go along with it. Maybe I'll even find out who she is. 


"Like I said, I'm here to visit my aunt." 


"But why are you in my forest?" 


"Your forest?" 


She said nothing. She waited for me to answer. 


I said, "I'm just here for a walk." 


I took another sip from my milk tea. She saw that and tried to open her own can. She struggled. I took the can from her, opened it and then handed it back.


She beamed like a child, clasped her hands around it and drank heartily. 


Then I asked, "Is this your forest? Is your father a landlord? Does he own the whole village?" 


"My father…," she murmured and her expression grew sad. Then before I could ask more, she glanced at me with a faint smile. "Yamata-kun, what do you think I am?" 


What kind of question was that? Seriously, this girl's got a screw loose. Maybe I should take her to the doctor. But she resisted when I mentioned the village to her. If I tried to touch her again, maybe she'll think it’s sexual assault and she'll report me to the police, then I will be charged and then...and then...


Stay calm. One step at a time. Go along with whatever game she's playing. 


"What do you mean? You mean you aren't from Japan? Are you a foreigner?" 


Which wouldn't surprise me. Even among foreigners, natural blue eyes was a rarity because blue eyes were a recessive gene. And the only reason why I know that was because I had to know it to get a B in the biology exam. See? I'm not dumb. I'm just too smart for my own good. 


She shook her head. She asked again, "What do you think I am?" 


I sighed. Talking to her was a pain in the ass. I had half a mind of just standing up and leaving her, but she was one lone girl in the middle of the snow. Common decency prevented me from leaving her. And she was cute. Like really cute. If it weren't for these weird circumstances (e.g. potentially being charged with a murder/assisted suicide), I'd probably be trying to get her number. Hell, right now I couldn't even get her name. 


I said, "If you don't have name, then I'll give you one."


She blinked, her face blank. Then she said, "OK." 


What to call her? I glanced around and then at her. Long black hair, fine features, a kimono as white as the snow. 


I said, "Yuki?" 


"Yuki?"


"Yuki." 


She seemed to think for a bit and then nodded. "Yuki will do." 


I almost laughed. Yuki (snow) was possibly the laziest name I could come up with. If I was an author and I wrote that, my publisher would probably kick me out the door. Or maybe my readers would laugh me into the ground. But I'm not a writer, so whatever. 


Yuki asked me for the third time, "What do you think I am?" 


Again, this question. And again, I decided to play along. To get this over with. So that I could go back to the village. So that my aunt will only kill me halfway to death. 


"You are a girl," I said. 


"What kind of girl?" 


"A foreigner?" 


"Maybe. 


"Japanese?" 


"Maybe." 


I shook my head. This didn't make sense to me. You know what? Screw this. This girl was just messing around with me. If she has enough energy for that, then she probably isn't going to die. 


I stood, patted the snow off my trousers and turned to her. "Look, I don't have time for this. I'm going back to the village. You are free to stay here." 


The sun was setting and through the gaps in wall of trees, rays of light found their way to me and my body cast a long and narrow shadow on the ground. Yuki too got up and the sun hit her. 


Huh? 


I rubbed my eyes. 


This couldn't be right. Why was there only my shadow on the ground?! My heart beat fast. I glanced at the pile of snow. It was perfect save for the mark I left when I sat down. There was depression from Yuki lying on it, sitting on it, sleeping on it. It's as if she was never there. 

 

Yuki tilted her head slightly and smiled. "What do you think I am?”

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