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On Thin Ice

by LUNARGIRL


On Thin Ice

"Margaret, where are you going?" my younger sister Mary asks, looking up at me with her big blue eyes, just like mine. I freeze and turn around on the old wooden floors, feeling guilty that I woke her up. At the age of ten, Mary should still be sleeping. I know I should be. "Go back to bed. I'll be back in a little bit," I tell her. "Don't go. You know father doesn't like it," she says, as she rubs the sleepy dust from her eyes. "I'll be back before you know it," I say kissing her forehead and tucking her back into bed. Enveloping myself in my threadbare blanket, holding it close to ward off the cold, my feet pad softly against the cold worn out floor. Careful not to wake Mary up again, I grab the first thing my hand touches and hurriedly throw it on. I pick up the brush on my desk and start brushing my long red curly hair quickly, not caring about breakage. I tie it back at the nape of my neck where it meets my pale skin.

I hold my arms close to my worn-out, dull clothing, trying to keep every bit of heat in, but it's no use. This winter is just too darn cold. Even the crops have been bad this year. Father said I might even have to drop out of school because we can't afford it, though he always says that. We’re already struggling enough with five mouths to feed, and no brothers to help with the work. I've lost hope completely. There is only one thing that brings me comfort and bliss now, ice skating. The gracefulness, the feel of the ice, the freedom, it's endless to me.

I creep down the stairs, my boots making little to no noise. Then I hit the one stair, that one darn stair. I cringe at the noise it makes, like a squeak, -mixed with a cry of pain, like it is too tired to work anymore, -and wants to give out. Though I wouldn't blame it, I would feel the same way too, considering how old this house is. That is nothing new though. Nothing about this place is new. Everything is worn down until one day it just snaps, like a twig. That's what happened to my mother. She broke, and she died. People said it was from overworking, having to care for four girls. However, I know what happened; my father killed her. I should have helped her more when I first noticed her acting weird. I should have done something. As the oldest, I should have prevented this. My parents didn't love each other. That's what happens when you are forced into marriage with a person you barely know. They are complete opposites, her with her kindhearted spirit and tenderness, and him with his stone heart and callousness. Her family was poor. She had no choice. It's not a lie. My parents hated each other, though they never showed it, ever or said anything about it, but I could tell. I tried to hide it from Anna, Ruth, and Mary. I guess that was why I was so ignorant to what mother was going through.

I won't let that happen to me. I know it's stupid, but I thought I could skate myself out of poverty. I thought I could be one of the first female figure skaters, make a difference, do something with my life that has meaning, something besides getting married, having kids, and then dying. I thought if I was good enough, I could win my freedom. That’s why I get up before dawn in the morning and work all day in the summer. Not just because my family needs the money, but so I'm ready when my chance comes. My worn skates now clutched in my hand tightly held to my chest, like they are the only thing keeping me tethered to this world, and to some extent they are. I reach the bottom of the stairs, relieving my weight, and taking my hand off the worn-out banister. From there it is only a handful of steps on the cold floor through this lonesome house before I reach the door.

I don't bother to look around this drab place. I know it like the back of my hand. The three bedrooms upstairs, sparsely decorated, one for Mary and me, Ruth and Anna, and now the one occupied by only father. The hallway after you climb the creaking stairs is almost barren except for the few pictures mother painted before she died that didn’t get put in the closet. There’s the small kitchen, with its chipped dishes and brittle utensils, where Anna and Ruth help me do most of the cooking. The dining room is where we eat all our meals with its ancient, solid, wood table, and fading walls. The parlor room we never use. It’s closed off, a ghost in the house, never acknowledged. The one closet is downstairs, mainly filled with mother's old things, like her clothes and paintings.

When we had money to spare, before she died, she used to paint, I think that was the only thing that brought her solace from being married to my father. Her paintings were beautiful. She would sell most of them, but there would be some she would keep. My favorite one had a beautiful grassy plain with a breathtaking sunset in the background, with hues of red, gold, orange, pink, purple, and many more shades I can’t describe. With deep green trees, vibrant flowers, and us. In fine cloths, that the rich would wear, a family for once with my mother, me, and a sibling red curly hair hanging loose, and with joyous smiles on our faces. That is the life that would have been ours -, if we lived in another world, another time. Things would have been different.

I place my hand on the doorknob, leading to the outside world of wonders, just as a voice I know too well, rings out in the echoey stillness of this place. It is a voice I dread at all costs that makes the hair on my pale skin stands straight up. “Where are you going?” He says. Taking a deep breath, I turn around. “I could ask you the same thing, or better yet, what are you doing? I was just about to do some chores,” I say. At the age of 42, John Williams was a rough man, with shoulder length black hair with strands of grey in it, blue eyes, tan skin, and a sturdy frame from working in the lumber department, and a jerk. “At 4 a.m.? Do not play coy with me, Margaret, for I have never heard of a girl being so dedicated to her chores, especially in winter. So, I will ask you again, where are you going, because last I checked you didn't own or need ice skates to do chores,” he finishes. I just stare at him, not saying anything, knowing he will continue if I don’t speak. “Don’t act stupid with me girl! I have found you a job in the next town over teaching at the school. You leave today, so I suggest you get packing,” he finishes. I stare at him in open-mouth shock, my blue eyes as big as saucers. “What the heck, no! I can’t leave Mary, Ruth, and Anna, what about them,” I yell. “You can see them when you come home on holidays, or you might just stay there.” he says a gleam in his eyes. “I can’t live like this anymore,” I say, salty tears streaming down my pale face. “Why? Why did you kill mom? Why? You kill everything! You have killed my dreams, my hopes, and you are killing me from separating me from the only family I love, and care about!” I yell, my voice hoarse, looking him straight in the eyes, my face now red and puffy. “Love? What do you know about love?” he laughs. “Love is a fairytale. Love makes us weak, and stupid, love is a myth, love is ignorant! Love does not exist! Your mother was weak and pathetic women, too kind for her own good. You mother died from weakness. This world killed her, not me. Infact, it probably had to do with taking care of four stupid, deceitful, and disrespectful girls. I wouldn't be surprised if your mother died from what an embarrassment you were. Serves her right though,” He finishes with an untapped viciousness.

I snap, screaming I swing my arm back and hurl one of my ice skates at him with all the strength I possess. It leaves my hand and flies, hitting him square in the temple, and though the blade is not sharp, it still cuts him. It rebounds and lands at his feet, as ruby red blood starts to trickle from his temple. His face amasses into something of pure rage, and other indescribable emotions, turning his face beet red. So, I do the first thing that comes naturally, I run. Turning, I swing the door open, causing it to collide with the wall, making it rattle and almost fall off its hinges. His voice booms into the bitter cold as I run out the door. “Don’t you run away from me you insolent girl!” I can hear his thundering foot falls as he chases after me, starting to close the lead I have on him. I race across the snow. The beating of my heart drowns out everything, pushing me faster. I near the big frozen lake where I ice skate, noticing that the ice is unstable, but does father know? I turn my head to look behind me as I run, and then my feet are pulled out from under me. I cry out and my feet flail madly as I fall, the tightness of his grip on my ankle is excruciating. I roll and kick, and feel my foot collide with bone, and hear father’s cry of pain, a tiny victory. I get up again and sprint, deciding I have only one option left, I must cross the lake.

I stumble and slide my way across, not daring to look up, for I only have eyes on the ice. Struggling to avoid the dark spots as I weave past them, where I know only havoc awaits under the surface. I turn around if only for a moment to glimpse where he is, my beating heart thumping against my chest, hard. I can see him, sprinting as best as he can on the ice with a slight limp, totally unaware that he's running on thin ice, unlike me. I’ve been on thin ice my whole life. I have never been safe, and I have never been able to keep the people I love safe. First my mother, then my sisters, and now me, but without father, that could all change, I just hope I live long enough to see it. By now I’m almost on the other side, oblivious for just a moment. I almost don’t hear the ice crack, before my world turns into a disarray. I freeze and drop to my stomach, spreading my weight out, my eyes squeezed tight, feeling numb all over. Waiting for something to happen, anything, but all I hear is the beating of my heart and my shallow breaths, and then a splash. For when I open my eyes and turn my head, my father is not there. For it is then, that I realize what happened, that my life on thin ice is finally over.

The End


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45 Reviews


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Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:44 pm
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Rosewood wrote a review...



Hey there @LUNARGIRL, I'm her to give you a (hopefully) helpful review!

Minor Corrections

"Margaret, where are you going?" my younger sister Mary asks, looking up at me with her big blue eyes, just like mine.


I don't know why exactly but the last part seems a little off. I think that, to create a better connection with her sister, you should rephrase it. My suggestion is quoted and written in bold below.

"Margaret, where are you going?" my younger sister Mary asks, looking up at me with her big blue eyes- a perfect copy of mine.


I'm probably dragging this on too long, but it helps to give the sentence an almost regretful or remorseful air - even if the MC doesn't see it. I really hope that makes sense.

I cringe at the noise it makes, like a squeak, -mixed with a cry of pain, like it is too tired to work anymore, -and wants to give out.


There was a few things I noticed in this sentence, so I 'll tackle each one at a time.

I cringe at the noise it makes, like a squeak mixed with a cry of pain, like it is too tired to work anymore, -and wants to give out.


Here, you didn't need a comma or a hyphen.

I cringe at the noise it makes, like a squeak mixed with a cry of pain. It sounds like it is too tired to work anymore, -and wants to give out.


Since you used 'like' already once before, it's unwise to use it again in the same circumstances. I think you should put a period after 'pain' and replace just 'like' with 'It sounds like'.

I cringe at the noise it makes, like a squeak mixed with a cry of pain. It sounds like it is too tired to work anymore and wants to give out.


You don't need the comma or the hyphen after 'anymore'.

That is the life that would have been ours -, if we lived in another world, another time.


You also don't need a comma or hyphen after 'ours'.

At the age of 42, John Williams was a rough man, with shoulder length black hair with strands of grey in it, blue eyes, tan skin, and a sturdy frame from working in the lumber department, and a jerk.


I saw that because this was description of a character, it's bound to sound like a run-on. But there were a couple pretty straight-forward instances where better word choice could've helped you out. I'll emphasize in bold below.

At the age of 42, John Williams was a rough man, with shoulder length, grey-streaked black hair, blue eyes, tan skin, and a sturdy frame from working in the lumber department and being a jerk.


And... that's pretty much it! I have a feeling that once you really got into the story, your writing flowed perfectly and created fabulous dialogue.

Major Corrections

I'm not sure if this is a particular style, but usually a new paragraph begins after each individual dialogue. I absolutely loved your character's interactions with one another, but the way it was written made it hard for me to concentrate.

Overall, this was an amazing piece and despite a few small errors, it created a beautiful connection between the reader and your characters - a perfect conclusion. The description and clever title that represented the story well, (metaphorically and literally). These were simply lovely and they were a few highlights I wouldn't do you justice unless I pointed them out. I also really enjoyed the ending, (which I hadn't predicted), and it gave nice closure. You are a gifted writer and I see a lot of myself in you, (in a humble and good way :D). I wish you luck in future writing and a late welcome to YWS!




LUNARGIRL says...


Thanks for the review! That was the first thing I published so I was a little unsure how to format it.



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Tue Oct 27, 2020 11:28 pm
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ChieRynn wrote a review...



Bear with me. This is the first time I’ve reviewed in months. I’ve been looking for a long time for a good short story to read and I have to admit I think I’ve found one. 😉

So! First off. There are 3 things I want to congratulate you on.
First! Your description. I truly enjoyed how you peppered your story with description instead of lumping it all into one paragraph. You described the setting as it came along instead of having a grocery list at the very beginning. Good job! Description is essential to a good story and I think you’re off to a great start.

Second! Your structure. You successfully kept a short story brief, something I’m incapable of. You left room for the imagination, which is a foundation of short story writing. Each sentence was packed with just the right amount of information to keep the reader intrigued and the story moving along.

Also, the way your end paragraph reflected your title beautifully sums up the story and makes for a powerful ending.

Third! Consistency. Your verb tense was consistent throughout the story, something I find hard to do in the active voice. Maybe this is just a personal compliment rather than a literary one, but I’ve always had a hard time with the active voice and your story was a good example of keeping the verbs consistent. There were very few core grammatical errors.

Nextly (I’m aware this may not be a word), I found 3 things that I would call “grows”. A Grow is a thing to work on. A seed that needs to be watered. A flower that’s just about to bloom, but just needs a little help.

Enveloping myself in my threadbare blanket, holding it close to ward off the cold, my feet pad softly against the cold worn out floor. Careful not to wake Mary up again, I grab the first thing my hand touches and hurriedly throw it on.


Description again! I feel as if these sentences could be improved by making the description a little more concise. It’s hard to feel something that’s “worn out”. What does “worn out” feel like? Is it hard? Is it all splintery where the polish rubbed off? Is it riveted with scratches from furniture being dragged across it? Also, when you describe the “thing” she put on - I’m assuming it’s clothing – I’d like to know exactly what it was. Did she pull it on over her nightshirt/pjs? Was it simply a coat? Perhaps she slept in her clothes since they were the warmest thing she had.

And I would like to know how old Margaret is. It would help the reader to understand how hard it might be for her to leave and take a job so early in life.

On to the senses.
I freeze and turn around on the old wooden floors, feeling guilty that I woke her up.


Since this is a sentence about her hearing, let’s talk about how the old floors sounded. Again, it’s hard to picture “old”. Us humans perceive things through the 5 senses, so when describing something that you’re not looking at (since she’s not looking at the floor and thinking about the age of it) you can resort to the other senses. In fact, I first read “old” as “cold”. I can feel the cold floor through my feet just thinking about it. Hardwood during wintertime is freezing, we used to have it in our house.

Lastly, dialogue.

Formatting dialogue can be difficult on YWS, but it’s not a super complicated thing to fix, nor is it that big of an issue. I think that if the core of your story is good, then simple formatting it’s a huge deal. But there was a massive chunk of dialogue in the same place and it was a little difficult to digest. Some paragraph breaks and dialogue separation would make a world of difference.

That’s all I have! This was an engaging story and I’m glad it was the first thing I saw in the Green Room. Keep writing!




LUNARGIRL says...


Thanks so much for the review.



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Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:13 pm
SpunkyKitty wrote a review...



Hi! spunkyspacekitty here to review!

Glows: This is a really heart-wrenching short story. I can almost feel the foreboding atmosphere the protagonist is in. There is some very nice description, for example,

“I cringe at the noise it makes, like a squeak, -mixed with a cry of pain, like it is too tired to work anymore, -and wants to give out”

This captures the image perfectly. All throughout your story, I felt like I was there, watching these events as they happened. Very good job!

Grows: I noticed some spelling errors, so next time you write something, make sure to read through it very carefully. Also, I was a bit confused on who John Williams was. Was he the protagonist’s dad? Or just a creepy neighbor? I’m pretty sure he’s the dad, but I would make it a bit more clear.

Overall: This is a very nice piece, it just needs a few edits.




LUNARGIRL says...


Thanks for the review, and yes, John Williams was the protagonist's dad.




Oh yeah. Blame it on the assistants Jack.
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