She noticed a young girl gliding on the ice while the even younger girl behind her struggled and did everything within her power to keep herself from falling. She failed.
Her sister turned to her, and threw her hands to her hips, exasperated. "Come onnnnn!!!"
The little girl didn’t hurry to stand. No doubt she wasn’t too pleased about being in the weather and falling, and even less pleased that her sister was trying to rush her in spite of her difficulties in staying on her feet.
"Michellllllle!! You’re going too faaast!" she whined, rolling over onto all fours before tentatively getting up on both feet. She kept her knees bent to maintain her balance and shuffled that way to where her sister still waited.
Minerva meandered toward the little girl from behind, drawing the attention of the elder sister, who gaped at the rangy black-clad, dark makeup-wearing woman approaching her sister from behind. The young girl saw her sister’s shock and turned to see what was obviously coming up behind her. And before she finished her turn, her feet flew out from under her and she dropped hard to the ground on her butt, her legs flying up in the air.
When she saw the tall, skinny, pale but blacked-out figure of a woman looming over her, her face wrinkled and tears welled up in her eyes.
"Don’t cry," Minerva said, kneeling down to the girl’s level. "Are you hurt?"
She started to nod, but shook her head instead. She looked to her sister, who had moved closer, but still kept her distance.
"Do you like the ice?"
The girl frowned, and vigorously shook her head.
Minerva smiled, and looked to the girl’s sister. "But you like the ice, don’t you?"
The girl nodded.
Minerva returned her eyes to the younger girl. "See! That’s why you fall so much. You don’t like the ice, because you are afraid that it will make you fall. Your sister likes the ice, and doesn’t fear it, so it doesn’t make her fall."
Mirnerva stood and offered a hand to the girl. "Come on, I want to show you something."
The girl, at first recoiled from the hand. It was pale with long fingers and dark red nail polish that looked like dried blood. And the woman’s face was pale with blood colored lips and icey blue eyes (actual blue, not that gray color that people called blue) surrounded by black makeup.
But seeing nothing actually wrong with the hand, she took it (she had on knitted red mittens anyway, so she didn’t actually have to touch the woman) and allowed the woman to help her to her feet.
The elder sister had moved much closer now, and was standing beside the woman and her sister.
"What is your name? I am Minerva Snow."
The girl’s lips moved and a thin white fog burst from her mouth, but the sound was barely audible. Still, Minerva heard it.
"Well, Sarah, I want to teach you how not to be afraid of the ice and snow any longer, okay?"
The girl looked dubious, but nodded anyway.
"Okay, repeat after me: I am a friend of Minerva Snow…"
"I am a friend of Minerva Snow…"
"Let me pass…"
"Let me pass…"
"Let me go."
"Let me go."
"Let me walk free and clear."
"Let me walk free and clear."
"With no doubt…"
"With no doubt…"
"With no fear."
"With no fear."
Minerva smiled and winked at the girl. "Now say it again."
The girl took a deep breath. "I am a friend of Minerva Snow. Let me pass, let me go. Let me walk free and clear, with no doubt, with no fear."
"That’s it!" said Minerva. "The snow and ice shall hinder you no longer. Go safely now, and we shall see each other again very soon. Bye, Sarah."
Minerva smiled at both girls and started on her way toward her destination. Before she got ten steps, the other girl called to her excitedly, her face a grin ten miles wide. Minerva turned to watch the girl running and jumping and sliding in her boots with all the precision and skill of a figure skater. Even her sister couldn’t keep up with her.
A second later, both girls were at her side. "How’d you do that?" The elder girl asked, her face aglow with wonderment and admiration matched only by her little sister’s.
Minerva smiled and looked at both girls. "Do you really want to know?"
They nodded eagerly.
"Would you believe me if I told you, no matter how weird it might sound?"
Again, they nodded eagerly. They had, after all, seen it for themselves, so what could possibly have been weird after that demonstration?
"I am an ice princess."
The younger girl’s eyes widened with amazement. "Really?"
The elder girl looked more dubious. "No, you’re not."
"Are their really ice princesses?"
"Do you have a crown?"
Minerva shook her head sadly. "No, I don’t have a crown. All I have is this rag on my head. But I can make a crown if you want me to."
The younger girl nodded eagerly.
She looked at the elder girl for approval, and the elder girl nodded too.
Miranda took of the do rag and neatly rolled it into a cylinder. She held the two loose ends together and a second later, when she released it, the two ends had been fused into a continuous rolled up piece of cloth. She gave the cloth to both girls for them to examine. They looked amazed when they saw that there was no beginning and no end to the cloth.
When she took the rag back from them, she sat it on the grains of ice that coated the sidewalk and slowly the ice encrusted the rag from the bottom and the top until it was completely coated with the tiny silvery grains. Some grains continued to rise on the rag, forming spires that twinkled of a thousand tiny balls of ice. And when she lifted the rag from the ground, it was no longer just a rag, but a crown of ice.
She placed it on Sarah’s head such that it would not fall off. "Now you have a crown."
Both girls were stunned and more than amazed. Sarah lifted the ice cold crown from her head and looked at it. She didn’t know what to think, but she knew one thing: Minerva Snow was a real life ice princess.
"Can you make it snow?" asked the older sister.
"I can sometimes, Michelle. I just need a little help to make it happen."
"Make it snow!" said Sarah. "Please!!"
Minerva looked sad. "Now is not the right time, Sarah. All things have their time and their place. If I made it snow now, people might get scared and panic, because it’s not the right time for snow in this city. You wouldn’t want people to get scared, would you?"
Minerva laughed. "Really?"
Sarah thought about it, then shook her head.
"Me neither. I don’t like when people are afraid. When people are afraid it makes them do things to hurt other people sometimes. It’s good to be cautious, but it’s not good to be afraid."
"But will you girls help me?"
"How?" asked Michelle.
"Don’t tell anyone that I am an ice princess. They might not believe you and they will think you are making things up. Okay?"
"And I want you to help people understand that the world is a place that needs to be loved and cherished."
"How do we do that?"
She reached into her pocket and pulled out Joel’s business card. "Write down what is on this card. I work there. This man is my boss. You can call me there and I will teach you how to make people understand things about the world that they have never known. Okay?"
Wide eyed, Michelle took off her book bag back pack and took out her marble covered copy book and carefully wrote down the information that was on the card. Sarah looked over her big sister’s arm while she wrote, then she looked at Minerva.
"Why does an ice princess have to work?"
Minerva laughed. "Ice princesses have to eat, too! And I need to help my boss understand some things that he doesn’t understand about the world too. He’s a really smart man. He’s got a PhD."
"It means he went to school for a long time and knows a lot of stuff."
Michelle wrinkled her nose. "Ew. Why’d he do that?"
"Because he knew that that was one way that he could learn enough to help the people learn how to take better care of the world. He’s a scientist and he does all sorts of wonderful things to make sure that the water is clean, that the air is clean, that pollution gets stopped and cleaned up."
"Wow, I want to do that."
"Then you have to go to school. You have to do all kinds of things that seem hard now, but when you look at it, it’s really easier than having to deal with a worl that is filled with pollution and hardly fit to live in."
"Did you go to school?"
"In a way, yes. Do you know where Brotherly Love Middle School is?"
Both girls shook their heads.
"I went there for two years. I learned a lot while I was there. It was for really smart kids."
"You’re smart," said Sarah.
"Yes, they are. My best friend there was a girl named Mariah. She helped me out a lot, because when I first went there, I didn’t’ know anybody. I hardly even spoke the same language that you speak here."
"What language did you speak? You sound American to me."
She smiled. "I spoke a language called Du-li. It’s a very old language that not many people even know of. Only people of secret societies that study the ancient ways of the people of the earth have some knowledge of it."
"Wow. Can you teach us?"
"Of course, you girls are my friends and are a part of my crèche."
"Crèche. It sort of means that we protect and look out for each other."
"Like blood sisters?"
"Yes, I like that. Like blood sisters."
The girls looked at each other and smiled widely.
"So when you girls need to know what to do, you will call me?"
Minerva grabbed the girls in a big hug. "That makes me happy."
When she released them, she stood and looked down at them. "I have to go now. But we will see each other again very soon. You will meet Joel, too. He can seem mean at times, but he doesn’t really mean it. You will see. Okay?"
They nodded, a little less certainly, but they nodded nonetheless.
"And remember: I am a friend…"
"…of Minerva Snow. Let me pass, let me go. Let me walk free and clear. With no doubt. With no fear." The sisters said in unison.
Minerva smiled and the girls ran away on the ice, never slipping nor sliding unless they wanted to.
And Minerva looked to the steel gray sky and smiled up to it. Perhaps, just perhaps, the world could be set aright after all.
Unto the Living Earth © 2007 Walter R. Milton