One day, the ice sculptor began to melt.
As it happened, he came to realize he had a few regrets.
He regretted having become an ice sculptor for one thing—there was no stability in it, it had never quite felt like a solid career. His parents had hoped for a more conventional sort of success. They’d wanted him to work in the kind of buildings fronted by sculptures made of rock, or steel.
He regretted never having started a family of his own, though he’d been hired to chisel likenesses of children for holiday parties many a time: it was only in their ice-versions that the little tykes would ever chill out and stand still, he thought.
He regretted the decision he’d made, at a moment he’d been unable to pinpoint in therapy, to freeze his emotions—he’d imagined this might work something like freezing eggs for women, and that he’d somehow be able to harvest and re-implant his extracted feelings later in life.
He regretted having been born lucky, into the most prosperous time in recorded history, and wasting too much of it watching superhero franchise movies and reading comics about supervillains—including one whose lifetime of resentment was predestined when his body was permanently frozen in a bizarre lab accident.
He regretted that he’d never had the privilege of seeing an actual iceberg close up.
He regretted that his melting wouldn’t be accompanied by the melancholy synth of Modern English’s 1983 pop hit “Melt with You”—which, at the time, had suggested a kind of dreamy romanticism that the ice sculptor had wanted to luxuriate in, like a bathtub full of chocolate, but which now suggested the sunsetting of, well, everything: icebergs, illusions, youth.
He regretted that he wouldn’t have the time to share his regrets about never having thawed out the friendships he’d ruined by being distant and cold for no good reason.
The ice sculptor regretted that no one would ever really see the white-hot fire of untapped passion which had burned within him all these years. Instead, they’d see only a waiting-to-be-mopped-up puddle, creeping slow as a snail’s trail across the hardwood slick of a hotel ballroom floor.
Matt Leibel lives in San Francisco and works as a copywriter. His short and very short fictions have appeared in Electric Literature, Passages North, Portland Review, Wigleaf, Heavy Feather Review, Socrates on the Beach, and Best Small Fictions. He is still on twitter, at @matt_leibel.