“The Snow Queen,” thought Gerda, her mind stumbling over the same ground it had covered again and again over the years. “I wonder if Kay ever thinks of her. Surely he must. He spent so many days with her as a boy, trapped and hopeless in her endless frozen hall. Sleeping, blue with cold, isolated from everyone but her. He must see her in his dreams. Are they nightmares to him, full of miserable shadows like death? Or does it feel like a homecoming, the way dreams convince us that we are returning to a familiar place, when it is a place we have never known?” She had never dared to ask Kay, afraid to show him how often she herself thought of the Snow Queen. These worries were an ache about her heart that did not go away.
Gerda looked over at Kay who was sitting in the doorway in the sun, reading the daily newspaper with the care that a good pastor would take with the Bible. He needed reading glasses now. Actually they both did, but he set them at the end of his nose, giving him rather a whimsical look. Sometimes as he read, his lips moved, as though he were reading to himself. It was an endearing trait, left over from childhood when he was learning to read. Gerda went over and stood behind him, putting her hand on his shoulder and resting her chin on the top of his grey head.
“I love you, Kay,” she said simply, “and I miss you when you’re not here with me. It makes me happy to see you sitting in the sunshine of our own home.” Kay smiled a little.
“The Snow Queen,” thought Kay. “I wonder if I will ever feel warm again. I am so fortunate to be here now, to have escaped and come home to the life that made me happy as a child. Here we are, my Gerda and I. We are no longer young yet we are still together, sitting in the sunshine, surrounded by our roses. I love Gerda. But every winter, the beauty of the snow takes me back to the Snow Queen. In my dreams, I am held captive again, and again strangely contented in her barren world. I am anxious to live this life fully as I once knew it, but some part of me fails. I go through the motions. I have no way to know if this is real, or merely the dream of a homesick child, still imprisoned by a cold, uncaring queen.”
Kay reached up and covered Gerda’s hand with his own. Her hands were so warm and his never seemed to be. He could not see her face but he thought he felt the warmth of her smile over his head like a summer sky. He closed his eyes then, and raised his face to the sun. And shivered.
Mary Barnes Jenkins