Her pockets were filled with tissue lint, and a tube of sugar plum balm to pack her lips with a punch. The elements naturally painted her ivory cheeks with color, like the stain of two strawberries left on grandma’s linen tablecloth. Upon the misfit strands of hair straying from her knit cap, crystals clung, layer atop crunchy layer. Her tread slow, yet steady, made for sloppy impressions, and her narrow feet turned fat. Beyond the naked branches, between the crisscross of X and Y, she spotted a doe a deer a female deer. Its long limbs and slender stature highlighting a female presence, which made her feel safe. Yet the doe’s unbreakable stare and painful stillness provided the evidence: she was wild, and there would be no protecting where fear was found. A slight hang of the head marked her embarrassment, and without sudden movement, she carried on down the sloping spine of the trail. Her brief moment of incapacitation had been enough to send a chill throughout; the heat she built was so easily lost. Slowly hunching, she began huddling her own limbs, drawing them closer. Within her mittens her thumbs bowed and popped from their individual vessels to join the other four; just like how those who stand apart from others secretly wish to be included; even her thumbs had felt alone. Strength comes in numbers. And so, too, does warmth. The easy truth quickened her pace, turning it into an awkward jog. Beneath the icy surface that had covered her coat, a flood of excitement cascaded; just like the water racing beneath the ice of the creek below. She ran for the warmth that would keep her going, and for the warmth that would welcome her when she reached home.