Their victim, the orphan, the monster, continues to lie in his place. He stares at the blue sky through his tears and feels the hatred as tight as the snow. He should not be. He is an ugly childhood, a gruesome tale, a leftover from a failed life. And the only thing pure is the cold. The cold is his resting place.
Let the boys fear the worst. Let them think of themselves as murderers. Let them wonder if he was once a regular boy.
The shaking of his body begins to grow still. His limbs begin to vanish. He uses what energy he still possesses to push his arms and legs away from his body. The cold stabs at his chest, and he drags his limbs back inward. But one more time, he pushes them out, smoothing the snow into a pillow of ice.
The blue sky is all he can see. The cold is all he can feel. But he is at peace to now know that he lies in the outline of an angel. He knows, as he pulls his arms and legs back in, that he is with his mother again. He is with the dove that showed him the way by being the first to fall, by being the first to peacefully join something so much more than itself.
And as his world grows dark, it is the dove that he first meets. From some distant place, he feels another being close to his heart. He feels claws on his chest. He feels feathers against his cheek. He feels life still clinging to him.
And then the boy opens his eyes. The dove is on his chest and its claws are piercing through his pajamas and scratching at his skin as it flutters earnestly, its eyes wide and sincere. He raises his head to see blood on his pajamas where its claws are stuck, and as he cries out in pain and tries to sit up, the dove flaps free and into the air. He watches as it gains height, spiraling forever upward to meet the winds that will guide it home.
And then, clutching at his chest, he realizes that he has not been left alone. He can feel a presence in his heart that he had not noticed before, as bright and warm as his own blood. Climbing to his feet, he runs stiffly back to the house. It is a long way, but he knows he will make it. And even if he lost all in his limbs in the cold, he would never lose that warmth in his heart.
He had never wanted to die. He had only wanted proof that he was meant to live. And there it was: a scar next to his beating heart, the memory of his mother as a beautiful dove, and a snow angel in the field.