They let their boots talk.
All that crunching snow, with crusts of ice above and below. Too sheeted to be molded into balls, or snow boulders. It gnawed on the calves and hamstrings after awhile. But it was a good burn. Matching the heat inside her lungs. Each lungful living large outside the lips, before dissolving away. The same for him. Maybe their breaths would meet in the silk of blue light, she thought, and dance beneath the pines.
His strides were longer than hers, and she struggled to keep up.
She watched the way he attacked the hill, and smiled against her scarf. The red of his ears poked from beneath his black hat. She had whispered things into those ears last night. They had been red then, too. But she liked seeing him away from her now. On his own. Just a little ahead. Almost unconsciously so. His instinct for solitude bound her closer to him.
She knew he would eventually turn. If only to tease her about being slow. Her pace dragged slightly. Pulling his string, if just a tug.
“You coming, or what?” he said.
He grinned back at her, and she stuck out her tongue. Feeling twelve again.
“You’re too fast!” she said.
He set the sled on the summit of the hill, and waited for her to sit. Once she did, he squeezed in behind.
She leaned into his chest. Resting elbows on thighs. Sinking into his body heat.
She felt his arms wrap around, and heard the wind begin to whistle as they tipped toward gravity’s pull. His chin bobbled against her shoulder. Her eyes teared from the frigid blast. A blizzard of laughter blew between them as they scraped up more momentum. Halfway down, she unleashed a scream that frightened the crows. A murder exploded from the tree limbs, dropping their ice daggers, but the sled outran them.
As they weaved between the evergreens, she remembered her Ethan Frome. And briefly closed her eyes.
“What do you think?” he asked, when they finally touched bottom.
Voice sucked dry, she could only squeeze his knee. He nodded and helped her to her feet.
They let their boots talk. As they headed, once more, for the clouds.