Cassie let herself fall backward onto a soft mound of snow. The scrawny brown-haired girl panted and wheezed with expended effort and kept her hands up letting the frigid wind soothe them. The cold, sharp air was several steps warmer than in the bucket of ice water. Her hands tingled with numbness as the moisture on her hands froze over.
“I n-n-n-nev-ver knew how c-cold it could really be,” she shivered against the snow on her back. Cassie was not dressed for weather. She wore a simple, summer-green tanktop and black pair of thin board shorts. A girl’s laughter came from her right and she turned to scowl at her friend.
“That’s exactly what I said to you,” Cherry said. The short, white-haired teen girl sat curled up on a brown recliner with a flickering, yellow fireplace next to her. She appeared to be in a cabin with its front half completely missing. She wore white pajama bottoms decorated with red cherries and a pink long-sleeve top. “You have no idea how cold it’s going to get,” Cherry said as she stood from the recliner. “Sound familiar?” she grabbed a heavy blanket from the side-table next to her and padded barefoot toward Cassie.
Cherry reached the boundary of the cabin and an invisible wall shimmered as she crossed the threshold. She helped Cassie up and wrapped the blanket around her; then, she supported the girl as they walked to the fireplace. They crossed from the snow onto bare wood floors and Cassie instantly felt warmth. The boundary shimmered and vanished revealing the other half of the cabin. Cherry guided the shivering blanket to the fireplace and helped her sit down then joined her. She tossed a small red glowing ball from her hand into the fireplace. When it landed the dying fire was renewed with a bright orange roar. Cassie stopped shivering.
“This is only the first step,” Cherry said quietly. “It will get colder.” Cassie gave a stiff nod, she was afraid of jump-starting her shivers again.
“Okay,” Cassie said. She sat up straighter and loosened the blanket around her bony shoulders. “I can’t imagine anything colder…,” she shrugged. “But I believe you.”
“And you still want me to teach you?” Cherry asked for confirmation. She did not think Cassie would quit but Cherry made sure to let her know she had that option. Cassie nodded.
“It’s going to be a hell of a surprise when I can pull it off,” she said with puffed out chest and a large grin. “Totally worth it.” Cherry smiled and nodded. She hopped up and yanked the blanket off of Cassie. The front half of the cabin shimmered and disappeared.
“Then that’s enough of a rest,” she said. Cassie stood without complaint and headed for the snowy field. “Hey,” Cherry called with a smile; she felt proud of the girl’s determination. Cassie paused and spun around. “When you get this step…,” she winked at Cassie. “I’ll take you to see some unicorns.”