When You Live On An (Arctic) Island

Flickering fire lit the lamps and the open bonfire in the middle of the tribal house where the entire community gathered. A young man whose messy black hair perpetually fell into his eyes held an older model of camcorder on his shoulder, somber as he watched the people file in through the lens. It was the coldest night of the year with a thick cascade of snow falling silently from the heavens, brushing the hats and shoulders of each citizen, lingering even longer than the young man expected as the building offered little improvement in temperature from the frigid outdoors. The snow only disappeared from the privileged individuals who had earned a seat near to the central blaze, but the rest wore white flecks on their clothing, visually separating who was in control. It wasn’t something the cameraman liked to consider because his father and grandfather had taught him that every individual in a society was equal, even if they performed different tasks in the community. But they had never lived on this island in the vastness of a polar ocean. Here it was survival at its sharpest, often cutting ideals out of the equation in favor of the majority of the community still living by the time spring arrived. Each season had its own cruel beauty in a way outsiders could never imagine. No flowers pushed through topsoil to announce the arrival of a new time of year. The frost merely melted and it was possible to bury the dead from the long, dark winter with enough natural light to forego the torches until autumn. Summer was a blinding mass of sunshine and melting water, mud and mosquitos that created an entirely new risk. 

The leader of the town banged a gavel on the nearest bench reserved for the elites. The meeting had begun. 

Hours later, the young man shivered in his hut, wondering if he was a type of elite himself because he was equipped with the necessary electricity to power his camera. Records must be kept and the town leaders realized the logic of supplying him with what would accomplish the objective. 

After plugging the camera into the power source, the man fell to sleep rather quickly, spent by the cold. As he dreamed, his lips curved into a smile as he saw the graceful and brave young woman who had defied convention and lived on a rock in the ocean, riding above the standards of the town. She lived her own life, even if only inside his imagination. 

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February, Not Yet March

I haven’t seen anyone trapped under the ice today. For this I am grateful. The dim midwinter light filters in through the window, reluctant and winsome as I return from my daily stroll through the woods, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Fear shoots through my limbs as I ponder the plight of those in the ice, frozen until their rescue. Perhaps I have only imagined them and their presence, perhaps I will find them roaring back to life once the calendar sheds another month.

Their situation was hideous as blue hands pounded the ice from the underside and I was obliged to go inside their world. It makes me hot and cold all at once, but I know that whatever comes, I will be given what I need to complete the task.

I stare to the ceiling, and see only a whisper of snow gliding past the ghostly windows. It is not yet time. I close my eyes and descend into the fevered dream once more.