Carnelian and Ice

Like a Block of Ice

Here's the story behind this story: some months ago I was thinking about a one-shot with a female vampire and a human man, as a gift for my friend Camilla. Then I met SatinCoveredSteel; we began to talk and she made me fall in love with Alaska. Since she told me about the World Ice Art Championship in Fairbanks, I've been thinking about a story inspired by those amazing ice sculptures. Here it is. SatinCoveredSteel held my hand during every step of this journey. I can tell you it's been a fabulous experience. Are you ready to join us?

Thank you! to Marlena516 and jmolly.

A last note: as you probably know, I don't own Twilight.

Fairbanks, Alaska

"The light..."

An old woman squints her eyes, trying to read the entire title of the ice sculpture aloud.

A man nudges her from the side. "Come on, Mom. I promised Danielle I'd be back for dinner."

She points at the carving. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

The son barely looks at it. "It sure is. Too bad the artist picked a name that's longer than the actual sculpture."

A couple of boys breeze past the carving, but they don't spare it more than a distracted glance.

"Wow!" one of them exclaims. "The guy who made it sure has a way with a scalpel."

The artist scoffs at the rough compliment. From her hidden spot nearby, she wonders if any of the visitors have noticed the words she's engraved on the ice, or thought about the meaning of her creation.

This is the first time she has shown a piece of her art in public, although she's using a pseudonym and never interacts with the visitors or the staff of the World Ice Art Championships. The idea of an ice sculpture fascinated her, because she considers herself like a block of ice that retains only the appearance of the human she was.

Preparing her entry for the competition proved to be challenging, because she had to master her strength and carve the ice block as slowly as she could to avoid raising suspicions. She wanted to stay hidden, so she wore – and still wears – a heavy winter jacket matched with gloves, hat, and a thick scarf; she's so bundled up that she could pose as a lean man.

The result is the sculpture in three parts the visitors are looking at.

Layers of flames represent the life she lost in her change. They're so finely shaped that they seem made of crystal. When the carvings are lit up in the evening, the red and orange hues she's chosen for the theatrical lights make the fire come to life. On the base of the flames, she's engraved quotes from the poems she loved as a human. Most of them are love verses, representing the love she dreamed of finding, which is now unattainable.

The second part of the sculpture creates a strong contrast with the fire. The ice is shaped in broken columns, like huge splinters of glass surrounded by the flames. It represents the way she emerged from her transformation – frozen, invulnerable, inaccessible. An inhuman creature. A vampire.

The third element is the one that tells more about her life, and at the same time, it's the most mysterious. A broken chain links the flames and the columns. Small protuberances hang from the links of the chain, as if dewdrops had frozen there. Actually, she'd had blood drops in mind, with the chain being the symbol of her bloodlust—the chain which keeps her a prisoner of the monster she's become.

In the evening, a white beam enhances the top of the ice columns, as if they are pointing to a distant light. It's a far cry from the version of the sculpture the artist had imagined at first. In her previous version, the chain wasn't broken. As long as she was thinking about the blood she'd taken, she believed that the light was unachievable. But then she tried to see beyond the disgust for the inhuman creature she was. She considered the years she had spent never killing a human, and always taking as little nourishment as possible from the animals on which she fed. On a whim, she broke the chain and picked the title for her sculpture:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Bella still knows that light and darkness will always fight in her neverending life. But for once she doesn't want to believe that the light never stands a chance.

Thanks to the unseasonably mild weather, there are many visitors in the evening. Mostly, there are chattering groups of young people, who enjoy the opportunity to spend a few hours having fun and sipping a hot chocolate at the exhibition café, more than the chance to admire the works of art. Little do they know that, if the warm weather continues, there is a risk that the carvings will melt sooner than usual, and the viewing will be cut short. That happened twice before, at the end of the nineties.

Bella is in the midst of imagining her masterpiece melting into puddles of muddy water, when something piques her curiosity. A solitary man has stopped by her carving, looking at it longer than anyone else has done so far. Tentatively, he reaches out a hand as if he's going to touch it, but then thinks better of it and refrains.

She's tempted to move closer to him, but stops. She's kept herself at a good distance from the people, not wanting to test her control too much. The visitors' scents are mingled in tantalizing waves that crash over her whenever the wind shifts. Good thing that she fed in the early morning. Taking care to remain inconspicuous, she leaves her secluded spot and moves onto the wide path. She edges around behind the man, toward the opposite side of the site that encompasses her sculpture, trying to catch a better view of his face. She wonders if he'll still be there by the time she's far enough around to see him from the front. He stays. She watches as he bends to read the title of the sculpture and the plaque with the artist's presentation. You won't find much, she thinks. She has provided only a very short and vague biography: I.S. Carnelian is a resident of Alaska and a self-taught artist.

In choosing her pseudonym, Isabella Swan kept her initials but added the name of the red gemstone that reminds her of the way her eyes looked after her transformation. She cringes because it's the way they still look, after what happened two weeks ago.

When the man stands back, his eyes meet hers for a moment. Then his emerald green pools look beyond the sculpture. Bella is mesmerized by the kindness and depth those eyes hold. If eyes could caress, this man's irises would do it. She stares at him as he roams the carving with his gaze, lingering on every detail. His hat and scarf don't allow her to catch more than a glimpse of his facial expression, but the attention he gives to each detail of her work is enough to intrigue her. She feels as if he's looking right through her, as if he can see her soul.

But she knows she doesn't have a soul anymore.

She bows her head and shuts her eyes, recalling the verses she inscribed on her creation. That unknown man has seen them – he has read them. She saw how his eyes glistened when he read the only quote she's engraved on one of the columns – on the highest one. Per aspera ad astra: through hardships to the stars. It's one of her favorites, and she feels as if she's shared an intimate memory with him. Moments of the life of the girl who loved that quote parade in her mind. She recalls the hours she spent in her backyard, lying on a blanket and reading until it seemed that she was actually visiting the world in which the book's characters belonged.

She can still remember the sadness she felt when she finished a book she'd particularly enjoyed – the bittersweet pleasure of the final pages of a beloved story, when it was time to say goodbye to the fictional people who had kept her company. After saying goodbye to so many books – and to the worlds they had disclosed to her – Bella had been forced to say goodbye to her human world.

A pang of longing crashes over her at the thought.

When she looks up again, the man's already gone.

A few minutes later, Bella leaves the exhibition, too. She won't be here tomorrow night. The thought of Mike, and the date they have then, gives her some comfort on her way back home.

Thank you for reading! Your thoughts?

The story is due to be updated every Monday.

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Carnelian and Ice's extras are posted on: h.t.t.p : / / myreadinglounge. blogspot. c.o.m/