Copyright Chrys Romeo 2012
Cover by Chrys Romeo
My biggest flaw is that I fall in love. I do. And when I do, I
lose my head over it. I do it completely, absolutely blindly to any
outcomes, irreversibly and hopelessly. I love too much, when I fall for
someone. It might be considered a quality actually, but when you
think about it, it’s just got me into a lot of trouble, lots of times.
Besides, you’re not supposed to be in love when you’re an aspiring
top ski champion training to become a member of the mountain rescue
service. You’re not supposed to think about her eyes and her smile
and an explanation to why she’s making your head spin while you’re
going down the slope in full speed. You’re not supposed to see her
image reflected in the snow. It’s a danger to focus on anything but the
direction ahead. The point is, I focus on anything about her, anything
but not the direction. I just go with the flow, daydreaming about the
impossible. Why impossible? Because I am aware she is less
interested in me than the stiff snow itself that covers the mountain. I
could hit a tree anytime for it and she couldn’t care less. And what
makes it worse: she’s been in the opposite team. I’m really not
supposed to like her. There is no reason for me to think about her.
There is no chance whatsoever we’ll ever be together. And yet, against
such implacable odds, I’m in love with her so much now, that I can’t
think of anything else and I don’t know what to do with my life when
she’s not around.
That’s insane, right? I know. But that’s how it is.
Yes. I miss her when she’s absent. I keep thinking of her smile,
the tone of her voice resounding in my ears, her clear sharp eyes
staring me down, the way she lets her hair flow like golden wheat
ruffled by the summer heat or the way she gathers it in an athletic
ponytail, leaving no question, no doubt… the slender way she moves,
the way her steel glance catches me from behind the ski goggles, the
way she buckles up her belt, the way she touches her frozen earrings,
making sure she didn’t lose them in the snow… her determination to
be perfect at the game, her subtle winning smile, knowing she’s just
going to conquer the slope and there isn’t going to be anything
standing in her way. The slope just lights up when she is there, it
becomes a field of gold in a summer sunset and she is almost glowing,
making the snow sparkle. I wish I could paint the beauty of those
unforgettable moments, the fractions of seconds when I get a glimpse
of her in that other realm of sunlight flowing to make me dizzy. I
stand and watch her in that morning sunrise frost, which I don’t feel
anymore, I stand there and let her start down the slope ahead of me,
bewildered at my own storm of emotion at the mere sight of her, I
stand there amazed and speechless, while the entire mountain seems to
sink under my feet and I am surprised I can still find the resources to
say good morning when she passes me by. In a word, I love
everything about her, even the things that hurt me most: her casual
indifference, her cold attitude, her distant independence and
detachment from any hint of commitment to anything. I would think
of myself masochistic for having fallen for her, when she’s the one
that seemed to hate me the most from the opposite team, ever since we
first met. I didn’t agree with her, I didn’t like her, I didn’t tolerate her
and she seemed equally annoyed by me, or even more so. She couldn’t
stand the sight of me. My presence irritated her on the slope. She
slammed the ski poles in silent protest against me being there one
meter away. And I did everything I could to get away from her: I
turned my back to her, I avoided being the one next to her at the
starting line, I took different tracks on purpose… we were the perfect
enemies. Sometimes I would return the passive aggressive language to
her and slam down the ski equipment, to show my own anger at her
hostility. And yet right now, I could eat from the palm of her hand, or
go throw myself off the competition, just to make her happy and help
her win. But she doesn’t know she has got that power. Who knows
what would happen if she finally realized that. I would be lost for
So how did I go from complete disapproval to absolute
attraction? Well, maybe it’s true there’s a thin line between love and
hate, as well as the magnetic truth that opposites are drawn to each
other and need what the other side brings, as soon as they wake up to
understand that. How did I cross that invisible line and actually began
to let myself be completely charmed by her, when she didn’t even
attempt it, or actually wanted the opposite? Sometimes I think it
would’ve been much easier to continue disliking her. I wouldn’t have
suffered so much from feeling attracted to her and having to keep my
distance. Sometimes I think that I’m so addicted to her because she’s
such a challenge to me. She’s like a flow of adrenaline, a rushing heat
that goes to my head. She’s unpredictable, inaccessible and hard to
please. She’s tough and drastic. She’s also hot and dynamic. She’s
rapidly deciding, quickly acting, fast ending it. And constantly
attentive, watching like a sleepless spy under cover. She could cut you
into pieces if you got in her way, in a flash of a second, without even
blinking, without remorse either. She’s that sharp, though sometimes I
ask myself if it’s right, for the idea of mountain rescue, for someone to
be so harsh just as she slides down the slope, fearlessly, in full speed,
spreading a wave of snow from her ski dance, elegantly and ironically
fitted in that ski costume that lets you know she’s a girl of her own
fashion and she knows what she’s doing. I just started to notice more,
when they placed us in the same team. I started to know her better. I
started to like her sense of humor, her sense of justice, her
determination and the fact that she always seemed to have an opinion
about situations. I started to overlook my disagreement and give in to
being interested. I got caught in a series of attractive this and that
about her, little things that became important and got my attention. I
started to admire her outfits too, though I would never have paid
attention to that before. Actually, I started to notice how well it suited
her personality and the attraction began to sink in unknowingly. I
found myself turning my head to watch her. I found myself listening
to what she was saying. I started to realize something had changed in
the way I felt about her.
But let’s start with the beginning. This season began like any
other season, we were preparing for the competition and training to
become better rescuers. We were on opposite sides, until we learned
the news that a bigger ski club bought our two little clubs and the
company merged into one, we became affiliated branches. Then we
were compelled to meet each other more often: at breakfast, at
trainings, at meetings, in the hallway, eventually we got to share the
mountain cabin at the foot of the ski slope. I and her and the rest of the
joined teams. The thing is, we got used to spending more and more
time together and bumped into each other more often, though we both
seemed to be slightly annoyed by it and kept avoiding each other’s
company. We silently agreed that we disagreed. Until the cabin
It was a peaceful winter day at the cabin in the mountain where
we were training for the championship season, at the mountain rescue
department. Most of our teammates were up the mountains. There
were just three or four of us left in the cabin, according to our training
schedule. I was there. And she was there too. We were casually
having breakfast in the morning light, I was having coffee at the table
and she was getting busy with making some tea, her back turned to me,
of course. She liked those tall mugs of tea and took her time preparing
it. I was trying not to look at her t-shirt, sipping my coffee and
watching instead the glowing snow outside. Then someone burst the
“Quickly, get out! The cabin’s on fire!”
We looked at the person in bewilderment. The person ran out, to
alert others too, as the fire alarm was ringing in the hall. I was calm,
not really believing it. I placed the cup of coffee on the table. Yet she
reacted differently. She dropped the bag of tea and started to gather
her things in a hurry.
“Shouldn’t we take out the equipment?” I asked her, as she
walked around with her ski jacket hanging on her arm.
She slid a quick neutral glance at me.
“The papers”, she said. “We must get the papers”.
We looked at each other with no other choice than to cooperate.
And, to my surprise, she was very reasonable, at that moment. She
seemed to leave aside whatever she might have had against me,
focusing instead on solving the immediate situation.
“Where are the papers?” I asked her.
The club’s contracts and files were of utmost importance, which I
hadn’t thought of. But she had. I admired her for it, in that freezing
“The papers are upstairs, in the office”, she answered simply.
“I’ll get them”, I said, still remaining calm.
“I’ll go with you”, she informed me, kind of stiff.
“No, you better get out. I’ll find them”.
“You can’t get them alone, they’re too many”, she replied very
sure of herself, though I sensed a trace of fear and hurry in her voice.
“We’ll get them together”.
I realized she was afraid, and despite that fear, she was
determined to do what she considered her duty, stepping over the
threat of the smoke that was starting to enter the room. I understood
there was no way to make her change her mind, so we went upstairs
together, jumping over the things scattered around, as if we were
climbing a mountain slope. People had left in a panic, making a mess
of whatever got in their way. Yet I saw no panic in her attitude, or she
was hiding it well enough. Everything in the cabin was made of wood
and likely to catch fire instantly. The flames were spreading fast. I
wondered if that thought made her tremble slightly. I opened the door
to the office and a whirl of smoke enveloped us.
“It’s too late”, I said.
“No, it’s not. Let’s get the papers”, she said with absolute
determination and went inside, to my surprise.
I followed her in and she started taking the files off the shelves in
a hurry, piling them up in her arms, as I watched her, stunned and
speechless. Another second. Then I hurried to help her. We emptied
the desk drawers and the shelves, gathering the documents, as the
room was filling with smoke. I seemed to automatically let her take
charge of the decisions.
“Let’s go now”, she said.
“Have we taken everything?”
We went down the stairs, then finally out of the burning building,
placing the files safely on the fence in front of the cabin. Then I went
in again, to get the ski equipment too. She didn’t try to stop me, nor
did she ask what I was doing. After that, I returned next to her and we
just stood there, near an advertising board that said “Snow Paradise”,
watching the flames emerging from the roof, clouds of grey and black
smoke rising in the clear winter sky like an atomic umbrella. The fire
extended rapidly to the entire roof, going down the walls. Smoke was
coming out of the windows, endlessly. In ten minutes, no one would
have been left alive inside. Fortunately, there was nobody in, we had
been the last persons to get out. When the fire department arrived,
sirens, frenzy and tons of water pouring on the cabin, the chief of the
club came up to ask us what had happened. I let her explain.
“We got the documents and the equipment safely and we went out.
It happened fast.”
“It’s good that you got the files safely. We’ll have to relocate the
And relocated we were.
Yet I think that was the moment when I discovered that I could
cooperate with her so smoothly, so naturally and efficiently. And
when I started to admire her.
The next thing we knew, we were relocated in a bigger cabin, a bit
more distant from the training slope, with shared showers and
opposite rooms. It turned out we were neighbors, me and her. In the
days that followed, I seemed to just open the door to my room at the
exact time when she was going in, or returned when she was coming
down the hall from the opposite direction. I was intrigued by these
moments of passing each other by; I didn’t know what was going on
in my own mind; it went on a stand by zone every time she was
around. My thoughts seemed to shut down, which meant I didn’t
know what to do, what to say or how to react, because I no longer
knew what to expect from her or from myself; things were changing
visibly between us. I suspected she complained about me to her girl
friends, about having to inconveniently stay in the room opposite mine
and see me so often or be bothered by my presence in the hall, even
more so when one evening, returning from training and forgetting to
switch on the lights in the hall, I mistook the left wall from the right
and I tried the door to her room. I thought the keys were wrong. While
I was fumbling in my pockets, searching for other possibly matching
keys, she opened the door and found me standing there, in the dark. I
froze instantly, realizing I was in front of her room. She turned on the
lights and crossed her arms. I blinked, blinded by her sight and the
sudden neon light bulbs in the hall. She was wearing a soft creamy
bathrobe and had a towel wrapped around her head. The smell of
shampoo and hot water made me forget my words. She was just
looking at me with that clear sharp steel glance, halfway accusingly,
halfway still waiting for an explanation. I felt an avalanche run me
down, engulfing me in breathless snow.
“I thought this was my door”, I said shrugging and I turned
around quickly, finding my keys in the last second, before she replied
“Obviously, it’s not”.
I was so sure she would get deeply mad at me for it. The next
morning, as we took the ski lift to the top of the mountain, I got a
glimpse of her steel eyes, pinning me down in the morning frost, just
for a second, and I had the confirmation that she was angry at me. I
tried to hide away from her and mingled with teammates, choosing the
distant corner, next to the window, where I just stood, watching in
oblivion, through the frozen window, the tip of the fir trees, the pines
and the cliffs under the moving rope lift. I could still hear her talk, on
the other side of the crammed, crowded lift, and I couldn’t help
listening, though I was sure she hated me with the same determination
she wanted to win.
“You wouldn’t believe it, people don’t know their way anymore!”
I heard her say and I knew it was an allusion to me, I expected she
could have had said worse about me.
I tried to ignore her comments. We were on the same team at the
moment, we were no longer official competitors, rivalry should have
dissolved, yet she seemed to find it hard to forget we had been in
opposite teams. She seemed eager to tear me to pieces, to beat me
down the slope, to show me the extent of her perfect abilities to win
against me and get some revenge for having been annoyed by me time
and time again. To just be done with it.
As we got to the starting line, I was aware we would meet on the
slope, but I was determined to stay out of her way. We were told to go
in groups of five. I looked at her again. I could see nothing through
her ski goggles, just light reflected from the sunrise. She stood there at
the starting line, ready and eager to get going. She had an early start;
instead, I waited for half a second, then followed her down. At first, I
was just following her smoothly, making slight turns in the valley, as
the mountain view changed and shifted by. I was keeping an eye on
her silhouette that went on shining ahead, like a silver comet on the
immaculate bright snow. I began to increasingly catch up with her,
until we were almost shoulder to shoulder; but then, I hadn’t noticed
the other skier that came from the side, flying off in a shortcut, over a
crest and directly into my elbow. I was knocked down in a fraction of
a second, lost balance, rolled over and hit my head on cold ice. I
blacked out, as the mountain zoomed around, upside down and when I
opened my eyes, waking up, the first thing I saw was her face, against
the sky, leaning above me. I was still on the slope, the snow was
resting cold under my back, the sun was above, lighting her figure like
a halo as she glanced at me in a frown. I wasn’t expecting anything
from her, but I was surprised she had stopped her race to see what
happened to me. Actually, she had done a lot more: she had phoned
the team on top and the medical crew at the finishing line. For the first
seconds, I just stared at her, unable to move. She was frowning above
me, but when she saw me coming around, her eyes took a neutral
shade. I soon realized it was not me she was upset about.
I tried to get up.
“Be careful”, she said. “You could have a broken bone”.
She retreated to let me adjust my knees and check if I could move.
As she stood up, I looked at her, feeling still slightly dizzy and having
a headache, but something more intense than the sunlight was stinging
“I think I’m O.K.”, I said, looking up at her.
Then I noticed we were alone on the slope. I didn’t dare ask her
why she had stopped next to me.
“It’s not fair”, she said in a sudden revolted tone, looking away, at
the crests of the mountains in the distance. “It’s not right to send a
skier off track like that. You didn’t even get a warning. It’s just not
I was so surprised at her unexpected concern for me and the
injustice of the situation. Then, we heard the sound of the helicopter
coming from behind the cliffs.
“I don’t think that’s necessary”, I said and she took out her phone.
“I’ll call and tell them you’re fine. Are you sure you can make it
down the slope?”
“Sure. I’ll make it.”
We went down together, slowly, and as they greeted us at the
finish line and the medical crew took me for tests, I was already
longing for her presence to last more than those few hours. It was the
beginning of my addiction to her. Yet I seemed unaware that I had
already crossed the line from disagreement to love. And maybe she
“So, you’ve got the hots for the Snow Queen”.
My buddies were already teasing me. They had noticed I had
become more and more attentive to her, even though we still didn’t
talk or interact too much.
“Snow. Not Snow Queen. Just Snow.”
I forgot to mention her name: Snow. Which was very appropriate
for her personality.
“Yeah, we know… Tough one. Haven’t you picked wrong this
They were amused by it and just as aware as I felt, that it seemed
an impossible story. She was that inaccessible. She was freezing cold.
However, in the last weeks I had begun to see her differently.
Her girl friends, instead, were hostile towards me. They were
annoyed that I was interested in her presence, they were scrutinizing
and upset, ready to stand between us, sending me glances of irritated
disapproval. As much as I tried to hide my feelings for her, as much as
I tried to give her space and not bother her in any way, people around
us still noticed something was going on and they resented it. It was
unpleasant to realize she might have been complaining about me to
them, even though there was no actual reason for it. Or maybe they
thought it was their responsibility to keep us apart, for the good of the
team – how that could have served the good of the team, it still
puzzled me. Maybe she realized people would be against us and she
behaved as indifferently as she could towards me. Or maybe that was
exactly what she felt: nothing but annoyance. However, I liked to let
myself believe there was more to it.
I knew I was not supposed to be in love when I went up the
mountain, but I couldn’t prevent it anymore. And the thought of her
having a spark of interest for me, of liking me at least half as much as
I liked her, seemed irresistible. It made me dreamy and often
As distracted as I was by her, I ended up tying knots to the ropes
the wrong way.
“If you do that again I’ll disqualify you”, the trainer told me and I
found myself caught between the dooming possibility of being
disqualified and her indifferent attitude that was sending me nowhere
But when I looked up at her, as I was trying to make sense of the
tangled ropes, I noticed something more than cold disregard. She was
worried. She was afraid, underneath her indifferent expression. She
hadn’t said a word, she was standing still, not even blinking, but I
could feel her tense attention, watching the situation.
“Fix it immediately. Are you going to fix it, or not?” the trainer
seemed to become mercilessly impatient.
I looked at her once more: I was so sure now that she was holding
her breath, apparently trying to seem uninterested and detached, yet at
a deeper level anxiously waiting for a verdict concerning me, waiting
for me to get out of that trouble. I just felt her hoping and praying I
would get it right, as I tried to disentangle the ropes. I felt her indirect
attention like a wave of heat above me, something she could not
prevent, her heart beating at the same pace with mine, deeply worried;