Yukina wonders why her mother is the way she is.
She could be a corpse. She is not warm. She does not speak. She does not move.
But she breathes. She has a heartbeat. It makes a dull, rythmic sound, as if it is barely holding onto life.
She could be a ghost. She is fixed in the past. Her eyes are open, yet she sees nothing.
But she is there. If a hand were to reach out and touch her, it would feel flesh and blood.
She pays no attention to the child clinging to her arm, to the warm hands on her cold skin.
"Mama, I had a nightmare."
The girl's crimson eyes are large, pleading. Some would call them the color of blood, but on her, they can only be described as the red of a comforting fire.
The mother does not blink. Her eyes stare into nothing. They are red also, but not like fire. They are a dull hue, like the weak glow of dying embers.
"Please. I'm so scared."
A pair of arms wrap around the child, lifting her up. She looks, and sees the face of another woman, who is very much alive.
"Come now, Yukina-chan."
The voice is soft, concerned. They walk down the hall, away from the frozen maiden - but the child still does not understand.
"What's wrong with Mama?"
"She is sleeping."
"When will she wake up?"
She won't. But she will never, ever say that. Not only would it frighten the girl - it would deprive her own self of any hope.
"Maybe when spring comes."
"But it's always winter here."
She sets Yukina down, and smiles.
"Then she'll have to go find it somewhere else."