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     A ship is designed to carry only what it is meant to carry, for exactly as long as it meant to carry it. For to have even a hair out of place could mean tearing open the tightly sealed hull, or scrambling the control unit, or distort navigation, or throw off the air pressure. If a ship is damaged in flight every human being would die in seconds, still strapped to their seats in the empty vacuum, the one-way travel tickets frozen against their breasts as the open wound of their ship drifts into infinity.

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     Miki was twirling atop an ice cube when Vida first saw him. Each time he leapt off the edge with his fist in the air, her heart followed. Perhaps it was too soon, but she couldn’t help it.

     She’d heard the stories about the children from Hiemslandia. The ice thieves. The giants. And the rescue—of course the rescue. Even with the condensation droplets in the way, Vida could see Miki’s wounded eyes that shone through the chilled glass.

     Vida sat down at his empty table and smiled. And Miki sat down on the ice and looked back at her. He extended his arm to the foggy covering and polished it with his sleeve. His action was nothing—not really. But Vida, seeing his openness toward her, giggled and loosened her shoulders.

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     I like my hands—small, translucent. As I look at them now, I see that my fingertips are pink with cold. Strokes of black soil are embedded beneath the fine slivers of pearl. I touch the bark of a tree. I can’t feel it.

     On my feet are red, satin slippers. I always wear them, even in the woods, even when it’s cold like this and pebbles press painfully through the soles. Droplets of blood mingle with the seeping dye. The cold has burnt all feeling away so that my hands and feet are no longer mine. I dance through the woods on numb toes.

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     “Red,” I called her. It was because of the red, hooded cape she always wore. No one else could have worn that cape. Anyone else would have looked ridiculous. But my little Red could never look ridiculous. Maybe it was the thick, straight eyebrows, the simmering, liquid-gold eyes. She was such a dark, little beauty, the eyes stood out in sharp relief. Looking at her then, you would not have believed she was only fourteen.

     Perhaps that’s why no one ever worried about her, not even when she walked alone in the woods. The mother was awful. The grandmother was worse: all day in that musty bed, in that hideous nightgown buttoned all the way up to the grotesque glob of chin. They took advantage of poor Red. The girl had no childhood at all. And, like a child, she stuck religiously to that path.

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     Folk called her Queen Frost; her voice glittered like frozen moons. In a kingdom of snowlit forests, she sat beside the king. The castle was warm with her laughter. She taught her children songs as bright as low stars and told them tales of lands which never were. In the winter, when the nights were as long as black winds, she trekked food parcels to old folk in the deep woods.

     One day, she became ill. Wise women gave her herbs grown from icicles and owl song, but her eyes dimmed and her voice became as thin as frost light. Her children stayed at her bedside. Candles burned through the quiet night. When the sun rose over the snow lands, she didn’t wake. The silence in the castle was as vast as mountain skies.

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     Jacey stopped at the Laundromat on her way to work, the only customer save for two suited men standing in the corner, passing a box of Wheat Thins back and forth. She opened one of the washers to discover a pile of confetti within. Some of their colors had bled onto each other and mixed to create new shades of blue, pink, yellow-green. She heard a crunching sound and turned to find the two suited men at her side, regarding her sternly as they chewed.

     “Sorry,” Jacey muttered, backing away.

     The men began transferring the confetti to the dryer below. They took big handfuls before scouring the machine for remaining pieces, picking them out with care. Jacey approached Gretchen at the front desk, leaned back with a jumbo Slurpee and a tattered anthology of ghost stories.

     “What’s up with them?”

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