New York is rarely quiet. The city’s a living thing, with subcutaneous systems and concrete skin. But New York in winter is different. In January, the city drifts in and out of sleep in the hours before dawn, when snow and ice muffle its pulse.
She is new to the city. It’s her first winter here. Fresh out of high school, she’s a fragile thing with hollow eyes and delicate wrists. Her father calls her a ghost. She hates it when he does.
Her fragility scares and angers her. She bristles into mirrors that reveal her sensitive bones. They are the sort of bones that get broken by wind and circumstance. She doesn’t want to get broken. She’s afraid she already is.
She leaves her dorm just before dawn – she has rehearsal before class. She pads through the lobby of the old brownstone that the University gutted and made a dorm. It’s charming from the outside, but it looks like an asylum above the ground floor. She breathes better whenever she leaves, even on mornings when the wind singes her face as it whips down 5th.
She usually goes around the park, rather than cut through Washington Square, but it’s 6am and the snow is fresh and no one is around. Besides, the smell of snow is comforting – it reminds her of mountains and home. The mountains are clean and simple. For all that she likes the city, nothing is simple here. Nothing, really, is clean….
She walks carefully down the icy street, watching her feet in their shearling boots and dreaming restless dreams. She thinks about boys she wants to fuck, and girls she wants to kiss. She has never had sex and she has never kissed a girl. She’s not the girl who gets kissed. She’s best friends with that girl.
She reaches the arch that frames Washington Square and looks up as she passes through. The city sounds hush and stop. Everything is still. Even her breath hangs, suspended, perfect and round, like a drawing of a cloud. The world within the arch is pure and white, relieved by slashes of black wrought iron and even blacker trees.
She takes a step back, afraid to ruin the snow. She’s a girl in the beast’s garden, but there is no father and no rose.
She jumps at the sound of her name. The syllables break the spell. She turns around, annoyed, until she sees who it is.
“Lana, it’s freezing! Why are you out?”
“You forgot this when you left. You can’t rehearse without a script.”
Her roommate hands her a binder. She looks like a Russian princess with her long blond hair and snow leopard eyes. Normally, they’re lined, gothic and black, but it’s early morning and her face is as clean and untouched as the snow. For a moment, Sasha imagines an old-fashioned sled taking them both away.
“Thanks, Lana,” she says, feeling awkward and cold. She’s stood in one place for too long.
“No worries, Sash. I was up anyway.”
Neither girl moves.
“I should… I should get going. I shouldn’t be late.”
Sasha turns away. She’s blushing and she doesn’t know why. She lives with Lana. There are no secrets in their room. But something in Lana’s measured gaze makes her feel like something’s changed.
“Mind if I walk with you?”
“You’re barely wearing a coat! Look – your hands are blue!”
Sasha reaches for Lana’s naked hand, but Lana pivots and links their arms.
“So snuggle and keep me warm.”
Sasha doesn’t argue. Lana is like that. She makes decisions on impulse and rarely changes her mind, but disaster never touches her. Disaster wouldn’t dare.
Together, Lana and Sasha step onto the snow, creating deep deliberate prints and moving like Siamese twins. Suddenly, Lana shivers.
“Maybe I should have worn a better coat.”
“And gloves,” Sasha says, stopping beside a bench. “Come here….”
She takes Lana’s hand in hers, intending to give her her gloves. But the park is a frozen garden again, and they are princesses in snow…. Following an impulse so old she can’t stop, Sasha slips Lana’s fingertips into her mouth, holding the other girl’s ice cold skin against the liquid heat of her tongue.
Her heart hammers but she can’t stop, and Lana doesn’t pull away. Their breath combines like a fractal bloom, warming the space between them. Sasha begins to suck, running her tongue over Lana’s skin in tiny, liquid strokes. Lana sighs.
Sasha freezes. The impulse that got them there leaves her and she feels too shy to move. Lana gives her a measured look. She looks ancient and wise, like the keeper of secrets Sasha wants to know. There’s so much she wants to know…
Lana strokes her cheek. Then her mouth moves over Sasha’s, like every boy she’s ever kissed. But Lana’s lips are soft and her skin is even softer, softer than a boy’s, and she cups Sasha’s neck like a dream – the dream of a restless girl who’s been brought up to look for a prince.
Their tongues touch and Sasha imagines Lana’s mouth between her legs. Sasha clenches her thighs. She’s strong. Not fragile. She’s feeling so much that she’s melting the trampled path.
They move closer, ignoring the cold as they pull at zippers and fumble with scarves. The bench feels like a bed. They’ve left the mundane world and bloom, surrounded by black and white.
Crunches in the snow.
Sasha looks up. A man goes by with a funny, little dog. He smiles and nods and keeps walking, making careful, deliberate prints. Sasha watches him go.
“When do you have to be at rehearsal, Sash?”
Lana bites her lip. It’s plump and pink and freshly kissed, and Sasha wants to keep it that way.
“I’m skipping rehearsal today.”
This story has very little to do with The Pogues EXCELLENT song, “Fairy tale of New York” (which ranks near the top on my favorites list). While the song is a glorious, semi-drunken duet that *always* makes me smile, this story is rooted in something that actually happened to me – a frigid walk through Washington Square Park one dawn in early January. The sight of Washington Square, quiet and covered in untouched snow, has stayed with me for many years. It seemed the perfect setting for this.
To read more seasonal erotica and nonfiction, head on over to Exhibit A’s site. Click here to catch the prompts and participate (there’s still time!). And click here to see who else has made merry this December.