Sugar in the Snow

April 16, 2009
By Lilly Lerer BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
Lilly Lerer BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

It is Thursday night and tomorrow might be the first snow day of third grade. I am freezing happily in my room. My brother Joe and I have already put on gloves and long socks and turtlenecks and sweaters and pants and more socks. I'm still about to become a human-popsicle. And Sugar is about to become a rat-popsicle.
Sugar is an albino rat, about 4 inches long (tail not included), with pink feet and red eyes. I got him at the pet store with a cage and a fish, but the fish was for my sister. He lives in my room with me next to my bed, so we are naturally close. He’s cold tonight too, but he doesn’t have a rat-sweater to wear, so I put him into my pajama drawer and he crawls around in all of the color and flannel and nightgowns. After a while, I feel around the drawer until I find him in a long pink sock and pull him out. The night passes in 10 long hours. When I am about to fall asleep, I look over and tell Sugar goodnight and to have happy rat dreams, but I know he doesn’t. He doesn’t dream. He just sits in the wood shavings with his eyes closed, and his heart pumps blood through his body and he waits.
The next morning I wake up to cold hands on my shoulders. “LILLY!” It’s Joe. “ITS SNOWING!” he says, and rips off my covers onto the floor. Sugar is alert in his cage. My window is frosted over. School is cancelled. I leap out of my pajamas, fly across the room, and land in a turtleneck that I left on my desk for this emergency.
“LET’S GO!” I grab Sugar from his cage, he climbs onto my shoulder and the three of us run outside. The sky and clouds are blank and white, along with the grass and treetops. I scoop some into my hand and taste it. Sugar is watching the snow from my shoulder; he probably thinks everything is normal. He is warm. And suddenly I realize: Sugar has never experienced anything like this before! I rationalize for a second. I take him into my hands and reach down and put him into the snow. Immediately, his body melts the snow around him into a rat-shaped hole. I hear some meeping from Sugar, which I interpret as laughter.
The rest of the story I must tell you separately, reader. Here is what happened: I almost killed my pet rat on the first snow day of third grade. After just ten seconds (I was timing), my mom saw Sugar in the snow and rescued him before I could even explain how much he was learning. She handed him to me and he stopped meeping and jumped into my pocket immediately.
“Mom, can rats die from snow?” I asked her with concern in my voice. She looked at me and laughed.
“Yes, honey, they can, and so can humans, so you and Joe better get inside quickly!”
I wasn’t hungry for dinner that night, but I microwaved some water for Sugar to heat his body. Things went back to normal with time. And here is what I learned from all of this: growing up involves cold and bad things, and if you are a pet rat, that can mean snow. And so just like I sometimes fail spelling tests, I think it was a good thing that Sugar almost froze to death that first snow day of third grade. Because I know this: that morning, through all of the meeping, Sugar came one step closer to becoming a grown up, mature rat.

The author's comments:
The terrors of third grade!

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