Winning and Losing

The sky above Rune erupted again in a brilliant display of green jets streamed with red, like fireworks launched from the surface of the frozen lake. He looked up, smiling, felt his body relax for the first time that evening, muscles sighing from relief.

“So . . . ” Several words came to his mind, were rejected before they reached his throat, none able to convey the effect of the dancing lights above him. It was just . . . “So.”

Then the memory of everything he’d experienced that day erupted in his consciousness. Finishing last in the fencing tournament, Double-J kicking his ass, the argument with his father. Annie saying they shouldn’t date any more. Annie breaking up with him. Annie riding away in her family’s Cadillac.

Of all his loses that day . . .

Rune lurched forward, hands pressing down into the snow, his body convulsing in sobs he no longer wished to subdue. He’d lost her. She’d felt like his reward for a lifetime of loneliness, her presence awakening sensations he’d never imagined sharing with anyone else. Having her as his girlfriend made him feel like a winner. But that feeling had driven off with that Caddy.

He opened his eyes without realizing he’d shut them. Still sobbing, he wiped his eyes with the back of his right hand. In the dim light he could see the outlines of his tears where they had fallen in the snow. His cheeks stinged with streaks of ice.

The edges of his vision caught a change in the lights above him. He sniffled, propped his body erect, knees still dug into the swow. Looked up. The lights, yes, they had changed. They were all white now, almost cloud-like. And . . . they were forming into a shape. 


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