3. Storm

781 74 8
                                                  

CHAPTER THREE

STORM


Everything appeared the same to Freddie. He looked around for his red reindeer hat, but the wind blew it away. The snow came down heavy upon his exposed head, and the hood on his coat kept blowing off. Despite the bashing and punching and slapping of the snow, the young boy pressed on, pulling himself away from the shadow of the cabin.

He moved only a little bit away and already the cabin disappeared. His feet sunk a few feet deep, slowing him down from making his escape. Every time he pulled his leg up, he would lose his balance and drown in the freezing snow.

The family car soon appeared, buried so deep that Freddie was on level with the roof. He brushed some of the snow away to find out which position it was parked, and that way, he could know his way to the trees to find some solace there.

On his hands and knees now, he rapidly brushed what he could, though the downpour made the task incredibly hard. He had to hold his breath and turn his face away from the onslaught so that he wouldn't slowly suffocate.

Freddie's heart sunk. He would have to follow the direction of the wind. Even when he stood, he fell backwards, away from the place he so desperately needed to go.

Still, there was a drive from within him that spurred bravery. As sub-zero water ran down his body from beneath his clothes, he knew the alternative was a death sentence in itself.

His family didn't love him, and for that reason, he lost the love he felt for himself. He could not go back to that soul-crushing place. He needed, more than anything, to continue, to move forward, to find the place in which he belonged.

Forcing his feet forward proved problematic but not impossible. The obstacles before him were only temporary, and once he moved past the self-doubt with positive thoughts of a better place beyond the woods, he managed to fight back against the elements. Every so often, he would turn his face away from the wind so he could breathe, then continued on his journey.

Before he knew it, he was surrounded by trees. They managed to block some of the wind and snow, yet everything still looked the same.

Freddie felt desperately lost. He stifled a cry and looked to the sky. He begged, pleaded with God, that he would not die. He shoved his hands into his pockets and found the snowflake keyring that provided him with so much warmth and comfort.

He closed his eyes and continued to pray.

This is for you, Freddie.

His voice. It was so clear in his ears, and it was almost like he was there, speaking directly to him. The violent wind quietened enough so Freddie could hear Walt speak. His mouth curved into a smile as water outlined his lips.

'For me? Really? What is it?' Freddie asked. He looked around the empty school corridor to ensure nobody was there. Lines of lockers lay undisturbed as they watched the two boys in the hallway. Freddie then looked up at the boy, directly into his eyes.

'It's to remind us of how we met. Don't tell me you forgot already!' Walt laughed, though his eyes reflected some worry. Perhaps he was worried he actually did forget.

'Don't be silly, of course I didn't forget!' Freddie replied, taking the small object from him. He brought it closer to his face so he could admire it. The snowflake gleamed under the overhead lights. The pure shade of blue sparkled as if it were magic. He played with the chain attached to it.

Walt continued: 'I know it's not much, but we've been seeing each other for almost a year now. We've kept this a secret for so long, and you've been so patient with me. I know it's not easy. We both haven't told anybody about who we really are, but I'm starting to feel ready. Are you?'

Walt's words always inspired a warm flurry in his heart. Just hearing his voice made him feel invincible. Freddie kept the snowflake keyring tight in his grasp as he opened his mouth to speak.

But the bell rang, and with that, both boys jumped and faced their lockers as soon as the corridor flooded with students. The noise polluted their senses and tore them away from each other. A couple of boys in soccer attire surprised Walt from behind with a jab in the back.

'Why did you leave class early man?' one of them asked, grabbing Walt by the shoulder.

Walt hesitated, then said, 'Just wanted to use the bathroom before everybody took them over.'

Freddie pretended to move some books around in his locker.

'Well, come on then, Coach won't be happy if we're late again.'

'I'm coming,' he told them. The boys started down the corridor. Walt leaned close to Freddie as he passed, and whispered, 'Meet me at Rose Park at eight tonight.'

Freddie snapped out of his memory, though he wished to stay there. The continued cold of his surroundings crept in like a slow death. His hopes were not so desolate after imagining Walt's voice, but he still didn't know which direction to go.

Something moved up ahead. He sharply snapped his head towards it and clutched his body tight. At first, he thought it was part of the trees due to its similar brown colour. It was small and struggled to stand. Freddie cautiously moved forward to identify what it was.

Once he could see through the snow, the small animal became clear. It reared its head up in the boy's direction, yet did not pay attention to him. It was a young fawn with fragile legs that looked ready to give way at any moment.

Another movement came from behind it. An older deer, the mother, stepped out from behind a thicket of trees and used its head to support the young fawn. Her soft eyes moved to Freddie and lingered on him. Her ears perked up.

The fawn fell over, and the mother broke her attention with Freddie to help him up. Once the fawn could stand, they both walked away.

Freddie was unsure of what to do at first. He kept his eyes on them, not wanting them to leave him. He restrained himself from shouting at them to stop.

The mother deer looked back at him as she walked, then returned to guiding her son through the snow. Maybe she was going somewhere Freddie could be safe also. Without deliberating further, he followed the animals.

The swirling storm raged on, but Freddie found it easier to walk now. He tried to keep up with the deer and the fawn, but he still fell behind until they were just dots in the distance.

'Wait!' Freddie yelled. His feet stumbled, and he fell head-first into the snow. Part of him wanted to just lie there, but he lifted his head up and stood.

The fawn and his mother were gone.

Freddie sighed his disappointment but continued in their direction. The trees were beginning to open up and become less daunting. He wasn't sure how long it would take to find some sort of sanctuary, but he didn't let that deter him.

Soon enough, he started to hear music amongst the darkness of the night. It was a low hum at first, and he stopped to listen to it. He wasn't entirely sure he'd heard it at first.

But a familiar carol rose in volume, and he knew he was close to safety. He started to run, slow at first, but he fought the shaking of his body to gain speed, panting as he proceeded.

A light came from up ahead. He moved towards it, grinning that his prayers had been heard. He said a silent thank you to the deer, even though she and her son were now gone.

Once he passed through more trees and climbed over a small snow hill, a village appeared. The lights were now blinding as wooden houses formed around what looked like a grand monument in the centre. Smoke rose from the houses. The sounds of singing and cheering filled Freddie with utmost hope.

The most incredible aspect of the village that Freddie could see was the grand Christmas decorations. The monument in the middle was a giant statue of Santa Clause, a decorated Christmas tree stood beside him. The tree overpowered everything in the village, shining flashing coloured lights; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, like an immortal rainbow.

Without wasting any more time, Freddie took his first steps towards the village.

Fawn | An LGBTQ+ Christmas StoryWhere stories live. Discover now