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The sun disarmed itself on the horizon, its painted setting watched with disdain through clear ovals of glass left uncovered by encroaching frost.

Outside, sub-zero weather slid near, its local invasion timed with the departure of light.  Old snow bestrewn with footed prints crosshatched back yards, while walls of snow built by road plows displayed their age, peppered with the sooted emissions of internal combustion engines.

Sophie hated winter.

Not the only item on her extensive dislikes list, cold scratched past a male friend, American Idol, and kitchen cleaning.  For the first time, hate of cold kept her from aiming at herself for what she judged a moment of extreme klutziness.

“Meet me by the statue of Robert Frost after school,” Maeve instructed her just before last period class the week before.  “So excited!”

“What?  Tell me!”

“Uh uh, you wait until later.  Byeeeeee!”

Sophie knew the reason and judged her friend lame for months of esteem-stripping grovelling, all for a jump into friends with benefits status.  Maeve learned not a thing in the past thirteen months.

Through the final class, Sophie weighed options and counter-measures.  She vowed to act.  Sophie assembled the words in her head.  She formed a candid lecture on the consequences of existing in the world of body sharing, where the prevailing attitude equated protection with cowardice and conformity.

 The bell sounded day’s end.  Sophie exited front and began descent of the ten granite steps, her disapproving eyes watching the feared pack swallow Maeve and her naïve smile.  Her right foot touched the third step, glazed with a coating of untreated ice.  A compound break resulted and consigned her to home after the setting, kept from attending school for an indeterminate time.  It added another burden onto her mom, now caring for four month old Josie.

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