Thursday, October 20, 2022

“The Message” • by Helen French

I hide messages in ice, where I hope my captors won’t think to look.

There’s an extraordinary amount of data in a single snowflake. Each one unique, each one able to tell a story.

I can’t make snow, but I can rewrite its form, so this is what I do from my cell. I stare out the window, I harness the power inside of me, and I magic my message into ice, adding a duplication code so that wherever this particular blizzard falls, the message falls with it.

My daughter is far cleverer than I and she will be waiting for a sign—so I’ve sent millions of them.

Nevertheless, I’ve been doing this for some time now and silence has been the only response. What if she’s been captured too?

I keep hoping because hope is all I have. It’s built-in to me, just as cold is built into ice. There’s always a way forward. I just have to find it.

Mid-thought, my door rattles open. Breakfast time.

“Good news,” my captor says, as he places my food on the floor. “Spring is on its way.”

And then even hope begins to melt.


Helen French is a writer, book hoarder, and TV-soaker-upper who grew up in Merseyside near the coast and now lives in Hertfordshire, UK, with her young family. Her short stories have appeared in venues such as Stupefying Stories #23, Shoreline of Infinity, and Flash Fiction Online, and she is currently buried in novel-writing. You can find her on Twitter at @helenfrench.