Snow, a Memory, and a Sled

Submitted into Contest #77 in response to: Write about two people going sledding for the first time in many years.... view prompt


Happy Sad Friendship

When it snows, I think of my sister. I picture Lilly, laughing, in a fuzzy white sweater, with hot chocolate slopping over the edge of her warm mug. I see her falling face-first in an attempt to make a snow angel, tufts of snow perched throughout her hair as she frantically brushes her arms and legs back and forth. There was always a sparkle in her eyes when she slammed the snow shovel into my back in our parent’s driveway. She sang off-key to Christmas carols, and she loved to poke my sides when I made fun of her for it. Most of all, I remember Lilly, up by the hill on Montgomery Street, a slightly banged sled under her, cheeks and nose red with the cold, screaming as she zoomed haphazardly down the slope.

A cold wind shakes me out of my remembrance. I tear my eyes from the hill, just barely visible over the tops of the houses across the street. I brush some glittering powder off my hat and resume the repetitive shoveling motions. Bitter winds sweep flurries onto previously cleared areas, but I pretend not to notice. I work for a few more minutes, glance at the (sort of) shoveled driveway, and then lean the shovel against the house and go back inside. 

The alarm sings a brief jingle as I open the door. I shuck off my boots, gloves, and hat and lay them on an old towel. I unbutton my puffy coat, hang it on the doorknob, then stride over to the kitchen. My brother, Harry, is sitting at the table. I’m about to turn back around when he grabs his phone and pushes by me. 

“Don’t bother, I’m leaving.” He says bitterly. 

“Good,” I reply. Maybe it’s stupid, but our relationship has always been like this. Ever since the crash, anyway. Childishly, I stick my tongue at his back. Grabbing the kettle, I fill it with water and set it on the stove. I brush by the hot chocolate packets in the cabinet in favor of a bag of tea. As I wait for the water to boil, I idly tap my fingers on the marble countertop. When the kettle whines, I shut off the heat and let the water trickle into a mug. I plop the teabag in along with it. 

I settle on an armchair and begin to sip slowly, staring out the window. A rustle of fabric next to me takes my attention, and I see my mother seated next to me. My gaze goes back to the window. 

“Don’t ignore me.” She says, a trickle of hurt in her voice. 

I don’t reply.

She lets out a little sigh. “Please. I know it’s the first snow, but that doesn’t mean you need to shut yourself out from the world.”

“Maybe the world has shut itself from me,” I say, still not looking at her.

“You know that’s not true.” She says quietly. I clench the handle of my mug a little harder.

“Really? So Harry would just be best friends with me if I wanted? We could be perfect siblings again, I’m sure.” I take a sip of my tea. 

“He misses you.” My mother says quietly. 

I look at her. “Yeah. That sounds like a real accurate summary of our relationship.” I roll my eyes and return my gaze to the window.

“We all miss you.” 

When I don’t reply, she excuses herself and leaves, the gentle tread of her footsteps following her. 

We all miss you. I shake my head and set my mug of unfinished tea down. I walk over to the laundry room and strip off my damp socks. After placing them in one of the hampers, I walk up the stairs to my room. Harry’s door is ajar, and as I pass by, he looks from his phone to give me a rude gesture. He returns to his phone, a frown on his lips. He misses you. Yeah, right. I can’t wait to go back to college. 

I enter my room and fling myself on my bed, a rough plan of napping taking shape in my head. But as I lie on my bed, a cycle of thoughts repeat inside my brain. My sister, on a sled, zipping down the slopes. My brother, staring at his phone, frowning. And my mom, a plead on her lips. We miss you. I shove my pillow on top of my face. He misses you. 

I give up. Pushing my pillow aside, I slowly walk out of my room. Harry’s door is closed now. I stop outside of it for a few seconds. Then I let out a breath and knock.  

“What’s up, Mom?” He says, idly.

I push open the door. “Doyouwannagosledding?”

“What?” He replies, looking up, a little shocked.

“Do you want to go sledding?” I repeat. 

He looks back down at his phone. My cheeks feel a little hot, and I begin to shut the door.

“My snow boots are too small.” He says, voice a little quiet. It sounds like a refusal, but there’s almost a question behind it.

“You can borrow mine,” I say, a strange feeling in my chest. “I have two pairs.”

“Your feet are tiny, though.” Harry makes a face. “I’ll just wear Mom’s.”

The feeling in my chest grows. “Shut up,” I say, a little smile on my face. I’ve said those words to him so many times before, but this time there’s almost affection behind them. “Let’s go then.”

We hike up to the top of the hill, feet dragging. There’s only one sled, and it’s a little banged up, but it's big enough for the both of us. The cold whips at our noses and ears, but we’re almost there. I set the sled on the ground, holding it steady so it doesn’t slide down without us. We haven’t done this in so long that I barely remember how, but Harry settles down into the front of the sled, and so I hop behind him. With the removal of restraints, the sled begins to zip down the hill. 

The air rushes by, and a feeling of nostalgia overtakes me. We hit a bump in the snow and begin to spin around, all control lost. As I whip around in the powdery whiteness, I clutch Harry, laughing wildly. His voice joins with mine, and when we crash into a tree, I can almost imagine Lilly’s titter along with ours. 

It’s strange what snow, a memory, and a sled can do. 

January 17, 2021 21:09

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Zelda C. Thorne
14:28 Jan 24, 2021

It certainly is happy and sad. Very moving. Good job


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Jessica Primrose
02:15 Jan 24, 2021

Great short story :) very moving.


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William Flautt
19:26 Jan 23, 2021

Wow, this is truly excellent. My favorite line is "It sounds like a refusal, but there’s almost a question behind it."


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