One Lump of Snow, Or Two
“What’s wrong Amy? Don’t you like sledding?” John’s voice was soft and playful, now that they were safely in the center of the road.
She just looked at him for a moment. She heard his quiet chuckle and shook her head, before looking back out the window. Unbroken snow stretched out before them, so white and bright it hurt, even with sunglasses.
Panic gone, she remembered another day, so long ago, on this very hill.
“C’mon, Amieeeeee. Gramma and Grampa are ready. You’re gonna make us miss out. Don’t you wanna go sledding. C’mon. It’s gonna be lots of fun.”
“I…I…my zipper.” Amy faced Mark, holding her coat open, expecting him to help her. Instead, he drug the sled to the door. She spied Gramma coming toward her. “Please, Gramma, please?”
“Of course, Princess. Let me help you with that.” Her thin, twisted fingers, smoothly tugged up the stubborn zipper. “Let’s see if Grampa has the car warmed up, okay?”
Amy giggled and took Gramma’s hand. She walked slowly, so Gramma could keep up. The cane tapped on the clear, dry sidewalk. Gramma tested each place before trusting her weight on it. Amy climbed into the back seat, while Grampa helped Gramma into the car. Mother was there, too, holding her steady.
Mark gave no one space to talk as they drove to the hill. Using his most serious, most grown-up voice, he told Grampa where to go. Mark knew so very much about cars, how fast to drive, how slippery snow was, and when to turn.
Gramma and Grampa laughed. Mark didn’t notice. Amy giggled, too. It was so much fun to laugh.
When the door opened, Amy shivered at the sudden cold. Everyone got out, except Gramma. Grampa pulled the sled up the hill, ahead of them. When he stopped to take pictures, she and Mark waved to him.
Mark held her hand as they trudged through the snow. She pretended she was a train engine, puffing up the hill, making smoke. But, they walked a long way, and she got tired of the game. She was glad her orange jacket was warm.
Mark took the sled from Grampa and ran up the hill.
She stopped, catching her breath. She wondered if she had to go any further, or if she could ride the sled from here. The car seemed so very far away. She hoped Gramma was warm.
Chuckling, Grampa scooped her up. “Now, you be careful Amy. Okay? We don’t want you gettin hurt. You don’t wanna get me in trouble with your mamma, okay?” Then, he squeezed her.
She giggled. “Oh yes, Grampa. I will be really careful.” She held tightly to him, taking in the unfamiliar scent of pipe tobacco and wool. “I…is Gramma going to sled Grampa?”
He squeezed her, again. “No, sweetie. Don’t think so. Gramma is…well…kinda tired today. But, she wants you to have a real good time, okay?”
Far above, Mark yelled something, and waved his arms. Then, he plopped down in the sled. He yelled something else as he slid past them
Grampa laughed, and held her. Amy squealed as Mark slid down, faster and faster, before bouncing to a stop. “Would you like to do that, Amy? Don’t have to if you don’t want.”
Amy looked at the hill. It seemed so steep. And the car was so very far away. Still, Mark would laugh at her if she didn’t. And he would tell mom and dad how scared she was. And he would tell Debby. And everyone at school.
Without a word, she slid from Grampa’s hold, and waited. Teeth clinched, she sat down on the sled. She didn’t want to lay down, but Mark made her. She closed her eyes and held her breath. She didn’t know what to think.
When the sled started moving, she screamed. She tried to sit up, but a hand pushed her back down. Opening her eyes, she could see Mark running along beside her. Then she was going so fast he could not keep up with her.
Giggle-scream as she rode her magic carpet.
Face down. Cold. Unable to move. Snow covered her face. One of her hands hurt.
Crying, she sat up just as someone big and strong lifted her into the air. Grampa held her close. Sobbing and shivering, she buried her face in his chest.
Moments later, she settled on Gramma’s lap, warm and safe in the car. The windows fogged over and she could not see outside. Gramma wrapped her arms around her, and rocked her gently. Amy snuggled against her. Gramma smelled…different today.
“There now, you are just fine, now.” She continued to rock Amy. “Would you like some hot cocoa, something to warm you up?”
“Oh, yes, Gramma, please?” She turned and sat with her back to Gramma as the older woman opened the thermos. The car filled with the smell of chocolate. Steam rose and the fogged completely over.
“Well, now. This seems a little hot. Why don’t we cool it down a little. Will you have one lump of snow, or two?”
Amy smiled and blinked back a tear. The house was just over the next hill. She turned. “Hey. Kids. These hills look like perfect. Do you want to go sledding?”