A dusting of snow fell from the clouds onto Nanook and Amaruq as they stood on the iceberg surrounded by floating bunches of frozen water and glaciers in the distance. The ineffective and short-lived sun allowed them to see the lifeless horizon dotted with patches of other frozen islands. Weak breezes blew no movement into the still sea.
“We’d better swim to shore when we see land,” Amaruq said.
“Then we’ll get hypothermia,” Nanook said.
“Best to wait until the iceberg melts.”
“There’s no food.”
“Well, starving to death takes a while.”
“To think, we were once respected.”
“I was the best teller of tales and you were the fairest judge and chief. I could speak volumes of our ancestors’ experiences from many moons ago,” Amaruq said.
“You were always there when I needed you to tell how our predecessors dealt with conflicts arising from infidelity to stolen bear pelts. The company—”
“Do not get me started on them, Nanook. There used to be respect for the elderly.”
“I am part to blame. I am the one who signed the charter.”
“It’s not really your fault—I mean who could understand the fine print?”
“First, the missionaries came then a bunch of salesmen from the company”.
“They gave us those pots, pans, and bolt action rifles. Everyone wanted more.”
“They told us to sign the five-thousand page document and an oil rig came next. We all enjoyed our whiskey, hot tubs, and High Definition TV.”
“We should have worked until we both dropped dead.”
“Then a drunk company man with a smirk came to my igloo with a bottle of Jim Beam. He said he was selling retirement plans.”
“That deceiver told me the same.”
“He took me to the Holiday Inn, drank with me, and waited until I was drunk to tell me the best retirement plan the company offered was the ice plan, better than the avalanche plan, and way better than the drowning plan. He told me to not bother reading the fine print because he read it for me.”
“When I asked for the ice plan and signed the paper, he laughed and told me I made a wise choice.”
“That stack of papers weighed as much as a sleet ball the size of a fist with confusing fancy words.”
“I would have preferred a nursing home, any nursing home to this.”
They stopped talking. The tide brought their ice floe towards the open sea, and the patches of slush amongst the bodies of glacial ice became sparser and a less significant part of their surroundings. A disturbance in the glassine appearance of the water appeared in the outlying sea. Both of them put their hands above their eyes to make out the approaching entity.
“I can’t see that well, but that patch of ice is moving…” Nanook said.
“That’s a polar bear! May the Great Spirit save us!”
Frederick Frankenberg (he/him) is a recent graduate with a BA in Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz and an AS in Engineering. He has been published in Little Old Lady, Purple Wall Stories, Short-Story.me, CC&D Magazine, and other publications pending.