“Kai, what are you doing out here?” a young girl asked, as she climbed through a window. She stepped onto a planter box, the breeze blowing lightly through her curly golden hair. Carefully avoiding the rose bush that had been trained to grow over the window, she made her way to a young boy.
“Hi, Gerda. I’m watching the people walk by, waiting for my father to come home.” Kai sat on a bare spot among the plants, looking with his honey eyes onto the narrow street below. His walnut hair had been cut short, not quite long enough to cover his ears.
Several houses lined the brick-paved street, most built quite close together in this part of the village. Looking across the street, between the simple wooden houses, Kai could see the ocean in the distance, along with some fishing ships bringing in the day’s catch. To his right, a large cliff loomed high into the sky. Intermittently, the sun would show between the clouds.
Kai’s home had been built so close to Gerda’s that only a few feet separated their upstairs bedroom windows. Their parents had rearranged the planter boxes that normally hung under the windows to allow the two children to visit and play. The planters had been turned so they connected one window to the other, forming a bridge between the two homes.
“Do you want to see my new red shoes?” Gerda asked.
The two children stood and headed to Gerda’s window on their right. Before they could enter, they heard a call from Kai’s window. “Does anyone want a fresh baked cookie?”
“Mom made cookies!” said Kai. They both turned and climbed into his bedroom. Like hers, a trained rose bush also surrounded his window. After entering, they ran downstairs and into the kitchen.
“There you go,” Kai’s mother said, handing each a cookie.
“Thank you, ma’am.”
The door opened and a middle-aged man walked in.
“Father! You’re home!”
“Hi Kai. How was school?”
“Fine. We’re learning our multiplication tables.”
“How was work at the docks today dear?” Kai’s mother asked her husband.
“Busy. Also, there was a lot of talk about that new queen up the coast in Arendelle.”
“The Snow Queen?”
“Why is she called the Snow Queen?” Gerda asked.
“She’s magic. She can make snow with nothing more than a wave of her hand,” answered Kai’s mother.
“They’re saying she also caused that strange weather we had a few weeks ago,” Kai’s father remarked.
“Why would she do that?” asked Kai.
“Maybe she does not like people to be able to catch fish,” said Kai’s father angrily.
“I heard she had accidentally lost control of her magic,” his mother offered.
“Do you think if we put her in the oven she would melt?” wondered Kai.
“That’s not every nice,” his mother scolded. “She would not, but her clothes might. They’re made from ice!”
“She wears ice?” asked Gerda.
“That’s the story. She has a beautiful, blue-white dress made from snow and ice. I’ve heard she can use her power to change whatever she’s wearing into her ice gown.”
“Why doesn’t she freeze?” Gerd asked.
Hai’s father answered. “She cannot feel the cold. I heard she made a palace out of ice, and lives there.”
“Have you two finished your cookies?” Kai’s mother asked. Both children nodded.
“Here, you can both have another. But no more, I don’t want to ruin your dinners.”
“Thank you!” both children said.
“Kai, why don’t you take Gerda back upstairs and play. I need to get dinner ready.”
The two children looked at each other and ran back upstairs. As she climbed through Kai’s window, Gerda bumped her hand against the side and lost her grip on her cookie. They watched the treat fall into the alley below.
“Here, you can have some of mine,” Kai said as he broke his in half.
“Oh, thank you!”
After they finished their cookie halves, Gerda started talking. “If the Snow Queen can’t feel cold, I wonder what else she can’t feel.”
“Maybe she can’t feel warmth, or love,” wondered Kai. “And she caused that storm. My father couldn’t work for three days.”
“You think she can’t feel love? She sounds like an evil old witch. Maybe she has a big nose with a wart!”
They sat there for a moment, imagining what the Snow Queen must look like. Then Gerda remembered, “I wanted to show you my new shoes. I’ll get them.”
Kai lay on his back, looking at the clouds, watching as they drifted overhead, from behind the northern cliff. Then he saw something that looked like some sort of haze near the cliff’s edge. He stared upward, trying to figure what the haze was when a sand grain fell into his right eye.
“Ow! Something fell into . . .ulp!” Another rock shard fell into his open mouth, interrupting him. He turned onto his hands and knees, trying to cough it out. Despite his efforts nothing happened, the shard had lodged inside him.
“Kai! Are you alright?” Gerda said, coming through the window from her bedroom.
“I think so, something fell into by eyes and mouth. But I think I got them out. I don’t feel them anymore.” He stood, looking around like he saw everything for the first time.
“Are you alright?” Gerda asked again.
Kai looked at Gerda. “Your freckles, they’ve grown. They cover your entire face. You look hideous.”
Gerda’s raised her hands to her face. “What? No they don’t. Why would you say that?”
Kai ignored her, looking elsewhere. He saw one of the few, late season roses on the vines surrounding Gerda’s window. He walked to the vine and pulled off a flower. “It’s all full of bugs. It’s ugly!” He tore the bloom apart, scattering the petals.
“Kai! Why are you doing that? You’re my best friend! What’s wrong with you?”
“Shut up, you ugly little goblin!” He turned, climbed through his window into his bedroom.
Gerda stood there for a few seconds, trembling, trying to understand. Then she burst into tears. She retreated to her room, fell into bed, and buried her head in a pillow.
Kai walked downstairs, into the kitchen. His mother moved about the kitchen preparing dinner. “What’s that horrible smell?” he asked.
“Kai, don’t say such things. It’s your dinner,” said his mother.
“You mean I have to eat that?”
“No, you don’t,” said his father. “You can go to bed without your dinner.”
“Good. Better than eating poison.”
“That’s enough, Kai.” His father stood and took Kai upstairs.
When he returned to the kitchen, his wife asked, “what was that about?”
“I have no idea. Something got into him.”