But, I realized that I just got back to where I started. The white of the whiteboard turned into the white of the snow, and the equations on the board turned into trees.

"Weird," I said. "I was just here."

Jackson slung his arm around my shoulder. "Yeah," he said. "Very weird." He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.


His face suddenly turned pale and his hair grew and his features feminized into Gwyneira. I rubbed my cheek where she kissed me. It wasn't numb or anything. It felt normal and human. My cheek also started to feel warm.

"Hey," I said to her. "What's up with everything?"

She giggled and danced around me.

"I like you, Kieran," she said. "You're a very interesting guy. Too bad I'm in control of your dreams now; they had so much fantasy potential."

"You're freaking bipolar," I said. "You try to kill me then you tell me you like me?"

"I never tried to kill you," she said. "I never even though of hurting anyone. I can't help it. I'm just born this way, oh cursed spite." She grabbed a snowball out of thin air and threw it at a tree.

"What are you talking about?"

She grabbed me by the wrist and suddenly I was half awake, half dreaming. I could feel the real Gwyneira sitting beside me, her coldness biting me furiously.

"Okay, okay," I said, shaking her hand off. "I get it."

"Only when your dreaming can I touch you without hurting you, smile at you without killing you, see you without blinding you. Oh, I hate it."

She took me by the hand and this time her touch felt human, and warm, and soft. She led me to where she had tried burying me before, and empty grave with an empty slab of concrete at its head. She ran her skinny finger across the grave and wrote her name on it.

Gwyneira Elizabeth Neigebourne.

"Why?" I said.

"I've lived for sixteen years as a snow maiden," she said. "And every year, as I thought it would get better, it only became worse. I never had any friends, and when I did, they would be gone the next day, coughing and sneezing at home. People gave me strange looks as if I were the root of all evil. Sometimes I wanted to scream at them that I can be human, but I know I never will be the same until death."

"No," I said.

She cried and ice fell out of her eyes.

"When I die, I'll melt and be absorbed into the earth like everyone else. Death equalizes everything, even someone as horrid as I."

She jumped into the grave and it started to snow.

"Gwyneira," I said. "Please don't do this." I tried pulling her out, but she shocked me with her icy touch.

"It hurts the most when I fall in love," she said, lying in the grave. "Because I know I'll never get kissed. I'll never even get to touch, to look into their eyes and…"

The snow was falling harder now, and she was covering herself up with it. I realized I had no time left. So I jumped into the grave after her.

"Kieran, no!" she said. "You'll surely die with me!"

She tried to push me out but I held on to her.

"I'm sorry I was afraid of you," I said. "I never knew…"

"Kieran, when I dropped my books, I thought you would pick them up for me because I wanted to get close to you for once. I'm sorry for what I did to Jackson."

"He's fine," I said. "He's just—" She couldn't. I couldn't.

"I know you hate me, so why torment yourself?" she cried. "You can never love me back, and I know it. Oh, Kieran." She ran her hand up my cheek.

It stung and my cheek went numb.

Illusion and reality flashed between each other. Bus grave bus grave bus grave.

"I love you," she said. "Kiss me, just once, before I die."

I couldn't say anything. I could barely move because she was so cold, so cold, but our lips met. My vision turned from white to black to white to black to green.