Carlos and Raiza vacationed on Manitoulin Island back in 1993. Carlos was ten. Raiza was way older, but she was nine. Their families were both staying at the same little resort. On Thursday, the families went to Kagawong together.
At the falls, all the older kids screamed and splashed under the falls, and all the parents lolled on the muddy limestone shore. Carlos found a safe little pool in a magical realm far away from it all. The water eddied around lazily, out of the flow from the rest of the river. It was up to his knees but was fathoms deep. Carlos spun around faster and faster because it was a transport to another dimension. Raiza watched him spin until he came out the other side, his guns blazing to attack the lizards monsters there on the far shore, green tendrils reaching out with menace and fun. Raiza rolled her eyes. Such a boy.
Carlos gunned his way along the shore, and Raiza, tentatively, stepped into the pool, the little eddy far far away from siblings and parents. Slowly, she turned. The green vine cliff, the river bubbling away below, the parents, the waterfall, she turned and saw them, she turned and saw them.
The third time Raiza turned, she slipped and fell, and when she came up, the waterfall saved her. Everything was white and frozen, but Raiza wasn’t cold. She was Raiza, the girl, but she was in a golden suit that was outside this time.
The waterfall was a frozen veil. The face behind the veil was a Shadow Woman, her voice caught in a song, the song silenced by the frost of a penetrating winter. Raiza thought this winter, the crystal ice, the deep silence of snow, was so beautiful, and peaceful.
Not cold at all, Raiza slipped and slid and glided her way down the frozen river. Fish were frozen solid below, caught forever in mid-spawn, never to reach the top, never to drop their eggs. Tree branches hung heavy with layers of white, all greenery long lost, all needles long dropped.
When she reached the bay, Raiza realized the extent of the freezing. The town was there, but there was no life. No cars puffed their exhaust through the streets. No chimneys saluted her, promising the warmth of a hearth inside. The snow was miles deep. Raiza became cold now, cold with fear. Beauty was put aside, for now she saw that all was dead.
Raiza screamed. She tried to claw her way up the stream, back to the time transport that was the little pool, but the river was too frozen and hard. It was so slippery she would gain a metre, then slide ever farther out, out into the frozen expanse of the bay. Raiza screamed, though to do so only deepened her terror, for no-one was alive to hear.
Raiza felt the Shadow Woman from the behind the frozen veil. The Shadow Woman woke, in her own way, and with a breathing in, just one breath in, she pulled Raiza back up the river.
Standing on the ice, facing the frozen veil, Raiza’s golden suit was gone now. In one more second she would freeze solid and die, like everything else. In that one little moment that lasted forever, Raiza saw the Shadow Woman behind the frozen veil, her dark eyes remembering the sound of children’s laughter, and salmon flashing in the sun. Then Raiza saw the dark eyes close again.
In 2016 Raiza Hamza won the Nobel Peace prize for her definitive work on global climate change forecasting.