The aftermath of the storm left clear skies and the roads covered with a perfect sheet of ice.
Alice, overjoyed that school was cancelled, stepped out of her house and exhaled to watch her breath. The sun flashed off of the street, drawing her eye to the unbroken rink. She smiled and lost no time putting on her skates.
She glided to Danny’s house and arrived with a pointed stop. “Come out, loser!” she yelled from the edge of the driveway.
Danny put his head out and frowned. “Cold,” he declared.
“What took you so long?” Alice accused.
Danny laughed. “There’s lots of losers on this block. How was I supposed to know you meant me?”
“Hurry up,” said Alice, with a graceful spin for emphasis. “And bring your camera.”
They skated for miles, past the Miller’s farm, and over Deer Creek Bridge.
“Hold up,” said Danny. “The light here is good.” He lifted his camera to take a picture.
“Let me help,” said Alice. She used one gloved hand to lift the edge of Danny’s toque away from his eye.
“There,” she said. “Now you can see.”
Danny blushed. “Remember what I said about cold?” he managed, trying to distract from his reddening face. He pushed his toque back down roughly. “Why don’t you skate down towards that tree, then come back this way?” he pointed with the camera. “I think it would make a good shot.”
Danny took two pictures on her way out, and six on the return trip.
“Here, look at these. They look nice.” He said, tilting the camera display toward Alice to scroll through the photos.
“Ha!” she said at the first one. “You focused on my butt!”
“No I didn’t!” Danny protested. He looked closer, then fell very quiet. She was very right.
“You totally did!” teased Alice. “Admit it! You like my butt. You always have.” She gave him a quick hip-check for good measure.
Danny almost fell into the snowbank from shock.
Alice grabbed his free hand and pulled him back to a stable footing.
“Come on, silly,” she said. “I’m joking.”
“Right,” said Danny.
“Let’s see the other ones,” she said, leading him on.
Danny became very aware of how close they were, as she leaned in to see the screen.
He advanced the frames. He was quite talented, and the photos showed it. “You do look very-” he hesitated, trying to think of the right word. “Pretty,” he decided.
“Thank you, Danny, that’s awfully kind of you,” said Alice.
But now the tension was too much, and neither knew how to handle it. Snowflakes began to float down from the surrounding trees, and Alice had to make her move.
She punched Danny in the arm, and took off at a breakneck pace. “Come on, loser! Last one back over the bridge owes me a Coke!” she called over her shoulder.
“That won’t even make sense when I win!” replied Danny as he raced to catch up.