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On Wings of Snow - Tony Lee

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On Wings of Snow

By Tony Lee

Copyright © 2016 by Tony Lee

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

First Printing: 2016

ISBN 978-1-365-62674-6

Dedication

To the glint of light on broken glass.

Short Story

The Licorice Sky

The sky glimmered, a licorice purple twinkling with gold stars.

I took the two envelopes out of my pocket and gingerly shook out the two letters. Holding the papers up to the sky, I examined the text again, too many times in too small of intervals. Black calligraphy, curved and dotted elegantly, covered the entirety of both pages. I traced my fingers over my friend's signature stationery, the familiar white doves resting on the margins of the letter, olive branches gently clutched in their talons.

Cafe Ciel, I read to myself, my eyes flickering back and forth between the paper and the building in front of me. Even in the dim moonlight I could make out the silhouettes of two words emblazoned on the marble wall; the same two words on the letter. There was no mistaking the location.

The wind swirled around me, tickling me with its gentle tendrils. A little breeze dancing on its tippy toes, like a graceful ballerina-in-training. I resisted a smile as I pushed through the glass doors.

A table for one, please, I said, politely nodding to the waitress at the door.

The cafe was oddly empty for a weekend night, I noted, and I chose my seat at a discreet window booth. I pulled the satin curtains back, revealing the licorice sky. Gazing at the sparkling stars and the velvet blanket of purple invoked something strong and sad. Emotions flowed in one after another, spiraling from wistfulness to regret to guilt. My eyes remained fixated on the scenery, not willing to move on.

Lucia announced her arrival with a delicate cough. With a smile, she seated herself across the table and stretched, the night's exhaustion showing in the crinkle of her brow. Her outfit was simple, a beige coat and an evening hat for the wind. Nothing that suggested wealth, but everything that suggested that she doesn't desire it. Lucia was simple - perhaps that was the reason for our friendship.

Evening, Charles, she said, formalities always on the top of her priorities list. She removed her gloves, plain mittens for the cold, and neatly placed them next to the silverware. Sorry for making you wait.

She was punctual, a fact that both of us were well aware of, but yet too involved in our manners to acknowledge. Instead, I shook my head and smiled forgivingly. Her eyes, a shiny purple like how I remembered them to be, were the same hue as the sky outside.

So, the festival, I spoke, placing her letters onto the cream-white tablecloth. Today was the planned day, but…

Lily… Lucia murmured, and foggy clouds covered up the stars in her eyes.

All I could do was nod solemnly. It was too early to stop mourning, yet too late to continue.

It wasn't our fault, I wanted to say, while patting Lucia's arm in comfort. Wasn't our fault.

But I could already hear Lucia's retort, sharp and clear, the only time her gentle nature would ever lash out at someone else, We could have helped. It wasn't our fault, but it was our choice - we could have stepped in to help… we didn't.

Snapshots of Lily intruded the edges of my mind, bombarding my peripheral vision with guilt and sorrow. Pictures of the gun, the bloody bullets, the surreal holes in her body that made her hollow. Her suicidal statement, a piece of paper that oh-so innocently declared her life. Everything haunted me. Perhaps I could have protected her from herself..

The festival was supposed be today, Lucia whispered, her fingers at her tear duct, not wanting any drops to escape. She was being strong for me, to protect me from her grief. Today, winter blossoms into spring. Loss into life. I thought to myself, perhaps, this moment would be symbolic.

I nodded. The festivals were well-known events in town. Celebrations, music, dancing… each and every festival marked a change in season. But this equinox, the festival was canceled. Some might say, The show must go on!. Those