Peer Review by Hartsock2 (United States)

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In the Winter Cold

By: Nika


I blinked slowly, like what was before me would change. Sadly, it did not. My small fire was diminished to embers, and the extra wood I had collected was not yet dry. I felt the cold prickling at my skin, making it stand on end. In the small, dark cave, I gathered what I had left for kindling and struck flint and steel near it, and ignited a small flame. The cold was growing more ferocious, but was nothing compared to the hunger I felt clawing at my stomach. I shivered violently, shakes wracking through my thin frame. The flame grew hotter, and I knew my kindling would not stand for much longer. With a groan, I pushed myself towards the exit of the cave, or where it should have been. Instead, large boulders were stacked over the hole. I walked back to where my fire began to sputter and spark weakly. I gave up and threw one of the less damp longs from the pile on top, praying that it would catch. Another shiver stole through me, and I knew I had to eat something. My stomach was aching from lack of food, and I knew my skin was ashen. I reluctantly removed a small stick of rabbit jerky from my leather bag and ate slowly, knowing even the smallest amount of food would make me sick if consumed too quickly. Even the tiny, half inch bites rolled nausea over me. I looked around my small cave, too weak to remove the stones right away. The cave was about six-feet tall, and it was around 10-feet wide. It was frigid, damp, and rocky. I had slept upon a small, leather sheet that I kept rolled in my bag, along with a itchy wool blanket. Finally my sickness had passed, and I stood wearily, planning how to free myself. I pulled my platinum blonde hair back into a ponytail using a string, and rubbed at my golden eyes. Pain rocked my head as I walked over, and began to pull rocks out of the barrier. Rock after rock, I finally made a big enough space for me to escape through. The icy air hit my face once I looked around outside. It was truly beautiful, out in the snow-covered forest, ice sparkling everywhere. I went back into the cave, extinguished my fire, and rolled up my blankets. I slid on a thick leather jacket before setting off into the forest. Dark, knotted trees surrounded me, and the snow crunched beneath me as I set off. I had escaped the city not more than two months ago, and had been living alone since after losing my friend to border patrols. As I walked, I thought of the city. A controlling, ugly place. I thought of my little sister, who always looked up to me. My mom and dad, who always loved me and cared for me. My older brother that I looked up to... Who left years ago. I remember him still, brown ruffled hair, jovial smile, glowing eyes... We tried to forget him. When he turned 15 and I turned 10, he left. He had been complaining about curfew. About school. About not being allowed to go into the woods, behind the walls that surrounded the city. Then one night, he came to my room, frantic.
"I have to leave Amber. I have to. I'm sorry." He spoke quickly.
"But... What? Jacob?" I had asked. My ten-year-old self had been so oblivious.
"I have to. I love you Amber, just remember that. Stay safe. I'll find you one day." He said, hugging me tightly. His dark brown eyes begged for my understanding, my forgiveness. He then left my room, and I had not known what he meant. The next day, he was gone. Just like that. My light, my role model. Gone. I used to think he was just confused, that he didn't understand the laws, and at least that is what I was told. We were distraught, but the government only said one thing.
"Forget him. He is a traitor." Is all they said. We suspected him to be dead by now. I still secretly celebrated his birthday each year. Going out, I would get a cupcake and candle, light it, and blow it out for him. He would have now been 25. Now I was 20 and had done the same thing to my sister, Jessy, who had just turned 11. I tried to spend all the time I could with her before I left, instilling what I knew was right... But I don't think it will stick now that I left.
I heard the crisp crunching of snow to the distance, and pulled out my dagger. I scaled the nearest tree, searching for what made the sound. A small, white rabbit hopped below, red eyes surveying the forest nervously. It crossed beneath me,  and I dropped down, pushing the dagger through the animal. I hoped it felt no pain as I threw it i to my bag for later. I allowed myself to eat another small strip of jerky, as I felt renewed. I strode deeper into the woods, ready for whatever came next.

Message to Readers

This is another fiction I'm writing (or... have been writing), and I guess if anyone has any input that would be great! Thanks!

Peer Review

I liked the last line. It stood out to me because it kinda gave me some information on the character's personality even though it wasn't necessarily for that. It told me that the character was mature, well at least enough to be wary of her surroundings.

I feel curious about what was going to happen to her and what happened to Jacob. I feel the urge to read on. I like that in a story. I like how it keeps me interested and makes me want to read on.

I would ask what got the idea of this story going. What inspired you to write this wonderful piece? I ask this a lot by the way. It is something that interests me.

Reviewer Comments

I also say this a lot, but, this is a good piece. Please write more! I am on a bit of a cliffhanger and I am not a big fan of those(normally). That is especially true when it is on something that I really like or even when I just want to know what was going to happen next. By the way, good job and keep up the good work!