You might think that a cabin on top of the Alpes would have everything a person needs to have an easy-going life. But what if I tell you that despite the luxuries--redwood, marble, and a collection of first edition hardcover books--it's a dull place for someone who grew up with technology all around him. And yes, I'm talking about me. I sigh. Even if we had internet, with no electronics, it's obsolete to even think about it.
I stare outside the fogged-up window. My dad and the devils for my twin sister, Vickie, and Glory, are making a snow castle. My dad is very artistic for someone who runs a Fortune 500 company, in fact, it was his idea to come to the cabin without any of our electronics. "to rejuvenate."
My mom comes strolling into the picture with my youngest brother--Joey--on her shoulders. She has a sus vibe all around her and just as the feeling demanded, she opened fire and took down a tower using Joey as a projectile. My dad stops what he's doing and quickly retaliates. Mom grabs Joey and makes a run for it as Vickie and Glory take pursuit.
I smile. That's my family. I look over my shoulder. The crackling of the fireplace was soothing the first three days, but it became annoying around the fourth. I sigh at the sight of all board games plastered and scattered over the table and floor. All the novels that caught my attention have been read twice. Even dad's Santiago Rojas series met the same fate. Now it's a matter of getting out of my comfort zone and going out there... But it's so damn cold. "Screw it," I finally say. I grab my winter coat, swing it over and slide my hands inside the sleeves. Put my boots on and go on to join mom's special forces. she probably needs it.
I open the door and step outside. There's no one to be seen. Only the castle that in my head I see in flames and the footsteps as the scattered tracks of soldiers. I go around the cabin, lead by the steps. No one. This is too sus. I squint. I gasp. I turn. Too late.
The snowball lands square on my forehead, I see the other one out of the corner of my eye. Hits my right side. I don't have to see the third one to know it's coming from the left side. It lands hard on my ear. I'm disoriented. I don't know where the fourth one is coming from, but I know it's big. Wack! it came from the front. That's dad. Never attacks from behind.
"Welcome to the mountains, we have fun and games," My dad heckles as his firm footsteps approach me.
"Come on, big brother," Vickie starts. "You knew that would happen." Glory finishes. "How dare you come out without a plan?" They both say in unison.
"Are you otay?" Joey approaches me.
"Yes, Joey, I'm o--" He halts my lamentation with a tiny snowball to my face. I instinctively get up and chase after him. First to kick his little ass then to switch into a playful mode. I catch him. I tickle him. He laughs until he's out of breath. I leave him on the floor, totally weakened.
"It's nice to see you in this mood," Mom says as she steps next to dad. Dad wraps his arm around her, pulls her closer to him, not without squeezing her ass first. Mom slaps his hand playfully then kisses him. We press our lips and look around uncomfortably.
"What got you in the mood, son?" Dad asks without making assumptions. That's something I really like about him. He always asks the right question and does little to assume anything. He wants to hear people's thoughts as they happen.
"Well, I saw mom in trouble and thought I would be of help," I say.
"Okay," he nods sensing the subtle tension in the air. He unwraps his arm around mom. She looks at him as he slowly backs away.
"What are you--?" Mom's puzzled face connects the dots.
"Vickie, Glory," I say.
"Yes? Big brother?" They say in unison. Bam! They fall butt-first to the ground.
"Oh, sh--" Mom says and takes off. She grabs a skateboard that leaned against the cabin and takes off down the hill.
"Hey, using your powers is cheat--" Vickie and Glory start to protest. I land two other snowballs in their face and they laid on the ground pouting and grunting. I turn to see Joey. He gives me a big smile. I forgive him. I go after mom.
She's a quarter of a mile away down the hill. I grab my snowboard and take pursuit. Mom is short and agile. She takes sharp curbs as she weaves through the snowy landscape. After three tree crashes and an ambush, I finally catch up to her. She keeps zig-zagging, making it hard for me to anticipate where she's going to go. She finally takes a right and for a split second, I lose sight of her. I make the turn. Wack! A tree branch runs across my chest and takes me off my feet. I land on my back. My mom arcs over me while she flips me off.
"Breath." She says as she gets out of my field of vision. I stay there on the ground. Laboring to breath, whizzing, then finally gasping. I pant. I stay there. I let the feeling buzz through my body. The needles of the pine trees are visible from the worm view. The clear blue sky only a piece of the puzzle. I wonder at how warm I feel on the inside. I take deep breaths. Close my eyes. The memories of the past few days feel so vivid. Did they all have this sensation? and why isn't there a single memory of an electronic coming to mind? maybe it's the difference in meaning and reward?
Maybe, just maybe, this is what my father refers to when he says that 'when we go out, what will come to mind will be the moments you spend with your loved ones.' It might sound hypocritical coming from someone who seems to have it all, but maybe that's why he has it all. Because he understands that little aspect of humanity. That little spec of being alive. I hear the slow, firm footsteps again. I don't have to look at him to know it's him.
"Making snow angels?" He smirks as he towers over me. He looks around. "Whoa, tree branch. Trust me, it could've been a lot worse." He chuckles and offers me a hand. I take it. He pulls me up. I snow myself off as I see the man standing in front of me. He's mesmerized by his surroundings. How does he do that? How does he keep that childlike aura around him?
"Wanna see what I found?" He turns to me with a big smile.
"Yeah," I say knowing I won't be disappointed. He turns towards the woods and starts smacking his lips. I frown in total confusion. Then I hear it. A rustling of branches and subtle crunching of the snow. I squint. I see two glowing, yellow eyes. Are they floating? No. They simply belong to a snow-white wolf who is happy to see my dad. how do I know? Because of its wagging tail.
"Wussu, mah lih guhl." My dad talks gibberish to the wolf, and to my surprise, just like a regular dog, it reacts by wagging its tail more feverishly. It puts its face on dad's hand and rests there for a few seconds as dad brushes her white fur. I'm mesmerized.
"Go ahead," Dad says, "you have the first step down. You're calm. Go for it." He says without hesitating. I know why. I heard that animals reflect people's feelings. The wolf was at ease, just like dad was and so should I. I go for it. I pet it. It turns to me and licks my face. I smile and chuckle. Then I hear a faint whine, pick my head up and an entire pack of wolves strolls out of the forest. I arc my eyebrows in amusement. My dad breaks a big smile and we start petting them all.
My dad closes my eyes. I can see his energy spreading through the pack. All the wolves, one by one, start laying down without taking their eyes away from my dad. They cross their paws and admire the moment. Purity and mayhem in one picture. My dad opens his eyes, looks the white wolf directly in the eye. Kisses it on the forehead and tells her to go. She licks him in the face.
After a long session of butt scratches and funny goodbyes, we make our way up to the cabin. It's almost nightfall, so the sunset's orange reflects itself on the mountains, just like the wolves reflected our emotions. My dad carries that gentle smirk of his as we walk side by side without saying much or none at all.
We make it inside the cabin. My siblings are gathered around the hearth. Mom is reading them a story while they sip hot cocoa with marshmallows on top. It's strange. All of the sudden, the cabin doesn't seem that boring anymore. It seems brand new again, but it's not the cabin that's new. It's... me. I feel rejuvenated.
I turn to meet my old man. He winks.