The surface of a frozen pond reflecting a leaf shape over blue water.

The frog is suspended in ice next to a red apple in the frozen, shallow pond. Its lips are parted where they meet the surface, as if taking a last sip of air. I stick out my tongue to feel the first snowflakes of the winter storm. Taste silence. I’m the only guest at the inn. The others left after the weather warning blared from phones over breakfast.

This morning, my boss left me a voice-mail. “I’m sorry about your brother. I know you’re taking a couple of days, but I need you back asap.”

And texts, “Call me while you’re driving back.” 

When my twin brother fell sick in Autumn, I’d struggled to keep up with work. I would stare at my to-do list, watching the words drift, separate, merge. 

The snow comes faster. Nearly covering the frog and apple.

“Ontario wood frogs are survivors,” my brother once told me. We were on a forest walk catching up on our college lives. “In winter, they produce glucose like a sort of anti-freeze. Their hearts stop. You’d think they were dead. But in Spring, some start breathing again.”

I name the frozen frog Schrodinger. Walk back to the inn, past the leafless birch trees stiff as skeletons. On the far hill, a pine forest rises like a plume of dark smoke. 

When the inn’s chef, Indira, hears me stomping my snowy boots on the hallway mat, she mothers me into the dining room. Pushes me into a seat by the fireplace with a bowl of butter chicken and naan. The rest of the staff have been sent home. They drove away fast on the narrow, hilly roads to their families. It’s just Indira and me. I ask her whether she thinks Schrodinger is alive in his block of ice. Whether he will breathe again come Spring. 

“Oh, it’s dead, I’m sure,” Indira says, her voice barely audible in the rising wind. She sits at my table. Hugs her own body. “Who can survive this Canadian cold?” 

After lunch, I strip off layers in my room. Winter coat. Sweatshirt. T-shirt. Tank top. Snow pants. Long johns. I bury myself in blankets. The lights flicker. I fantasize about texting my boss, “Snowed in. Power outage. Nearly out of juice.” I want to be scant. Forgotten. I sleep for two days, waking occasionally to eat the Moroccan stew Indira leaves at my door. 

I dream I quit my job and move into the pond. Schrodinger and I eat my to-do lists and fall asleep. When we wake in Spring, there are more stars than dark spaces in the sky. 

“Are you alright, dear?” Indira calls at my door. “The sun is finally out. You should go for a walk!”

I pull up my body. Spend hours watching the landscape change through the window. From the snowmelt, green emerges. The birch trees ballet their limbs like a beckoning. The pines seem to cast their shadows upward to form turrets in the blue. 

I walk down to check on the frog. There is still a light covering of snow in the valley. My footprints join the fresh ones of a lone coyote, loping across the hill to the pond. The ice has receded. Schrodinger is gone. But the apple, exposed, gleams plump and red in the faint sun.

Photo by James Mann, used and adapted under CC.