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Fantasy

Adam stepped into the cold morning air dressed for frigid temperatures. The secrets of survival in the cold were now old lessons, learned the hard way. He never lost a toe to frostbite, but the nerve damage lingered.

Being impervious to the elements is a fantasy born of childish bravado. ‘Get tough or die’ was his youthful motto. The days of venturing out in winter weather, with no hat or gloves were long gone.

It began to snow in big, heavy clumps. There is something so wondrous and fantastic seeing those swirling flakes descending. Soon, clinging white frosted his long black coat.

Adam smiled at the fact it could be too cold to snow. The wetness of this snow proved the humid air was barely freezing.

Adam walked and pondered the belief that each snowflake remains always and everywhere unique from all its brothers. Perhaps, he thought, there are no two identical flakes in this storm. But in all of history, that design has never once repeated? How infinite can infinite be expected to be?

“Maybe this snowfall is just a re-run of last year’s storm.”

“It’s moot,” he thought. “No way to test it.” He laughed at some absurd researcher seeking a snowflake’s identical twin. And giving up in frustration at each flake melting under the microscope’s lens.

“’Aha!’ he cries. ‘Found them… oops.’”

Regardless, he found the falling snow infinitely beautiful. So intensely dazzling, in fact, he averted his eyes. Tears streamed down his cheeks.

The trees stood grey shadows behind the density of the windless storm. The snow collected quickly. Picnic tables sheltered green grass while carrying inches of fluff. This silent accumulation unsettled Adam. How can something so grand arrive without a whisper?

Adam could enjoy that almost electric sense of space created when the snow arrives. Something big happening. The lack of traffic blessed this world empty of everything but snow. An immense silence filled the world. A woodpecker’s ‘tocking’ punctuated the storm’s great, quiet roar. A crow called and heard no reply.

Adam loved the paradox of hearing everything in the silence.

Adam enjoyed seeing his breath, a momentary vapor keeping rhythm with his step. It confirmed his presence.  This fanciful scene, dreamy but not merely a dream.

He heard shrill sounds far off. Children make the most of this rare event. It heartened Adam to see some things never change.

Adam had little patience for children’s screams. But here, they were necessary. It would ring false to see children running about in silence under this floating deluge. Screams were mandatory here. They were screams of pleasure.

A bend in the road revealed a dozen children glorying in this crystalline paradise. Of school age, they were big and small. One big kid ran without a jacket. The activity kept him warm for now. It brought Adam’s own foolhardiness to mind.

This was the perfect snow for packing good, solid snowballs. And the kids were engaged in a major battle. Adam noted the coarse quality of their language. These were not of his generation.

For a moment, Adam hesitated. “What if they see me and make me the target?” That moment passed. They had quite enough targets amongst themselves.

A wave of nostalgia washed over Adam as he remembered his own epic snowball fights. He had a good arm back then. He once threw one at his friend Charlie. Adam’s snowball hit Charlie’s hand as he wound up to throw. Both snowballs exploded in his face.

Charlie laughed. “Hey man, that was good. How did you do that?”

How many kids got their faces washed with snow? Bigger kids initiated the younger. It was a universal torture. But no one thought it bullying. Sooner or later, everyone got the treatment.

Adam and Charlie conspired a surprise snowball attack at the height of summer. They stored a couple of snowballs in their mother’s freezer. Souvenirs of their grand battle, they stayed there until June. But when the time came to use their aged snowballs, they had mysteriously shrunk to nothing. How do you explain frost-free freezers to a kid? Charlie joked that ‘freezers aren’t free.’

Adam watched a trio of kids building a snowman.

He remembered when he and Charlie, built a snowman on the playground. They worked hard, long after the bell. The principal stood in the door shouting threats of expulsion if they didn’t get to class.

It could have been a ‘teachable moment’. In building their snowman, Adam, Charlie, and their third-grade friends demonstrated the basic tenets of any civilization; cooperation, competition, conflict, and its resolution.

‘Expelled for snowman.’ How would that look on one’s permanent record?

Mrs. Schnell, Adam’s third-grade teacher, had a rule. Anyone coming to class with wet clothes would have to sit in their underwear, wrapped in a towel. Somehow, she never made an example of Adam, though he couldn’t deny the evidence had she brought charges.

Did she want him to catch pneumonia? Or was Mrs. Schnell afraid to confront him?

Charlie came in with wet jeans and met his fate. Only he made a show and wasted classroom time parading around in his towel. Whistling the whole time. Third-grade girls are not amused by such antics. Charlie knew no shame. Certainly not Mrs. Schnell’s brand of it.

Enough snow had accumulated for sleds and toboggans. Those would come out after a hard freeze. Adam never understood the point of trudging up a long hill for a thirty second thrill. Somehow corrugated cardboard made sense in the summer.

It would be hours before snowplows cleared the roads and created great ramparts lining the roadways. They were perfect for burrowing into.

For Adam and Charlie, there were always snow forts. They excavated deep tunnels where no one could find them. Adam and Charlie agreed, even if it collapsed on them, no harm done. It’s only ice.

Who could have predicted that truck spinning into their embankment after hitting an ice patch? The spring thaw told the story.

When the snowstorm tapered off, the kids ran by, helter-skelter as if Adam were a stump. Steamy hot chocolate promised to spread warmth through their bodies.

Adam turned to watch them recede into the distance. Their fresh tracks led past him in the virgin snow.

How long had he stood there? Not so long. But no tracks marked his arrival. Adam stood alone with his memories.


January 10, 2020 15:06

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2 comments

Barbara Eustace
22:22 Jan 15, 2020

Lovely story of childhood memories

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Alex Lucas
00:02 Jan 16, 2020

Wow. What an interesting way to tackle the prompt. You're writing is quite incredible, and you're descriptions throughout are easily my favorite way I've seen this sort of weather explained. Really beautiful.

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