She took the impact just above her heart. Hardened skin fractured, smaller fissures spider webbing across her chest and down, splintering her belly button.
“How dare you?” Her words frosted in the air. Christine felt her icy core softening under the flames of rage, melting. Calm, cool, and collected was key — especially cool. She took a deep, calming breath and felt ice pellets hit the back of her throat.
The bat dangled from Brad’s hand as he stared at her. Sweat dampened his hair and the collar of his T-shirt. “What are you?”
“Probably the only person you know who wouldn’t end up in the hospital after taking the business end of slugger there.” Though her eyes were as frozen through as the rest of her, Christine felt a tear trickle free. It froze on her cheek, a round pearl against her clear skin.
“I knew you were lying to me. No one can be as frigid as you and not be hiding something.” His fingers tightened around the neck of the bat, and a flush heated his skin. “I saw you with that guy tonight.”
“That was a job interview,” Christine exclaimed. “Not a date!”
Minus the attempted murder, the situation could have been humorous. Mike (a.k.a. Mr. Fabulous) had taken her out for coffee as an informal interview for a position with the Allies of Justice. The idea of having an affair a famous superhero twenty years her senior was ludicrous.
“No one has a job interview in a diner on that side of town.” Brad smacked the bat against the palm of his hand. “You’re a lying whore.”
“It may be moot at this point,” Christine said, “but we’re over. I’m going to leave before I do something we’ll both regret.” She took a step toward the door, leaving a moist footprint on his paisley rug.
The bat smashed into her back. Chunks of ice hit the floor as she stumbled. Brad’s face — the one she’d thought so handsome — was a molten mask of hatred. How had he snowed her into thinking him nice, sweet even? She could discern the shape of each individual snowflake, but she couldn’t see that her boyfriend was a psychopath.
He swung again. Ice burst from her palms, pelting him with stinging debris. He winced, but his swing was true and the bat smashed into her outstretched arms. One snapped at the wrist, the other at the elbow. She lunged forward. If she could touch his skin, she could freeze the water inside of him. Then she’d be safe.
Brad skittered out of reach like a cockroach. Her arm stubs flailed through open air; then, the bat slammed into the side of her head. Her ear shattered, as did most of the hair on that side. A chunk of her cheek landed on the rug, breaking apart like a snowball. Cracks splintered her nose and left eye.
“When you die, do you turn human again?” Brad asked. “Water would be easier to clean up than blood.”
By now, he was behind her. Christine tried to fight back, but without her arms, she was limited. The bat crunched one knee, and then pulverized her foot. After that, Christine succumbed, allowing him to beat her into a pile of ice crystals. In her ice form, she felt no pain, just a curious lightness as each body part separated from the rest.
Crushing her to icicles kept Brad occupied for a while, but eventually he grew bored and went to the utility room for a broom, muttering curses against her as he went.
She allowed him to sweep her into a nice, neat pile in the center of the rug. Putting herself back together was easier if she was all within reach. As Brad left to get a garbage bag, Christine embraced her desire for revenge and began to melt. The heap of shards softened into a mound of slush. Brad thought he could kill her that easily — she would show him what she was truly made of!
When Brad returned, his sandal brushed against the slush as he opened the garbage bag. Christine tamped down her emotions and started to solidify. A hand erupted from the slush and grabbed his ankle underneath his jeans. He screamed, but the sound was cut off as the water within his body froze. Christine grew as the slush pile shrank, her body expanding into its familiar lines. When she could reach his arm, she circled his wrist with her fingers and released his leg.
Moments later, they stood facing each other. She was clear and perfect, not a splinter or crack to be found. He was cold and hard to the touch, but still alive. She hadn’t frozen him completely. He could still breathe and his eyes rolled. It wouldn’t take much to finish the job, maybe thirty more seconds of freezing, but in the end, Christine let go of his arm.
She leaned forward so her lips grazed his ear, ice sliding against ice. “You’ll thaw, don’t worry. Probably have one hell of a cold, though. And I’ll be watching you from now on. Hurt another woman, even if it’s just her feelings, and you’ll end up a popsicle. Next time I’ll see to it that you never thaw out again.”
Brad made a strangled noise that she took for horror. A wry smile curved her lips, and as the warmth of her amusement flooded through her, her ice melted, leaving a pink-cheeked blonde in jeans and a sweater standing before him. She patted him on the cheek in farewell. On her way out the door, Christine switched the thermostat to its lowest setting. No reason to hurry the thaw.
Erin M. Kinch lives and writes in Fort Worth, Texas, where she shares her home with her husband and a rambunctious golden retriever. Her short fiction has appeared in various print and online publications, including “Allegory,” “A Thousand Faces,” “Electric Spec,” and “Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic.” For more information about Erin”s stories, visit her blog at www.erinmkinch.com.