A Walk in the Snow

July 28, 2008
By Brenda Snell, Fenton, MI

“Jeri.” The boy ahead of me called out, looking back, smiling happily. I paused for a moment, struggling to remember his name.
“L’nni. My mind finally said. His name is L’nni.
I trudged onward through the snow, feeling the cold slowly seeping through my boots. I wasn’t used to the frigid temperatures. My thick coat made the going tough as I struggled to keep up with the boy. He was running, laughing uproariously, swiping at the snowflakes falling from the sky around us.
I felt them, landing in wet patches on my cheeks, and pulled up my rough wool scarf to protect my face. I had borrowed it from my Uncle Damien, and it smelled heavily of his musky cologne. But the warmth was comforting and pleasant, so I didn’t mind.
L’nni was wearing only a light jacket and worn, frayed jeans. His sneakers were old and filled with holes, but he was oblivious to the cold as he turned his vibrant blue eyes to the sky.
“Look.” He said, a goofy smile plastered over his face. He brushed a long lock of his pale blonde hair from his eyes, and turned back to me.
“Snow,” he murmured, pointing to the heavens “See?”
I smiled, humoring him as he waved his hand through the air, causing the flurries of small snowflakes to dance in the wind.
“That’s great L’nni,” I said, my voice muffled as I spoke through the scarf. “But we need to be getting back. Damien’s going to come looking for us.”
He simply ignored me, and continued moving his hand around through the air.
It was then that something began to happen.
It seemed as if the snowflakes were moving together, creating a shape in his palms. Then, he began packing it tightly together, forming a ball in his hand…
I had to blink a few times. It couldn’t be possible. He seemed to be plucking snowflakes from the air around him now, placing them on his creation, making it grow until is was shaped perfectly…
It was incredible.
“How did you do that?” I asked, my eyes widening in surprise. He handed it to me, and I took it in my thick gloves, brushing off a fine sheen of thin white powder from its smooth surface.
It was a solid block of ice.
“L’nni? How—“
I gasped as he reached forward, and pulled down my scarf, exposing my face to the cold. It hit me like a wave, and I found myself pulling back, trying to put the scratchy fabric back in place.
“Jeri,” he grinned. “It’s okay.”
He pointed to the sky again, and took my hand, holding it tight. A chill hung on his skin that permeated the lining of my thick glove, but I ignored it. I watched him as he caught the falling snow on his tongue, and I smiled weakly, doing the same. The flakes quickly melted, and on a whim, I imagined that they tasted like sugar-- sticky and pleasantly sweet--just as I did when I was little.
“This is a secret,” L’nni whispered to me. “Damien doesn’t know what I can do. I’m afraid to tell him.”
“Why?” I asked, wiping snow from my eyelashes. “He’s a nice man. I’ve known him forever.”
“I don’t know.” The boy replied, shifting nervously, kicking up snow with his shoe. The light powder gently whisked around on the wind, making strange patterns in the air. I watched it, waiting patiently for his answer, feeling his hand tighten around my own.
“I want to go home.” He continued, his voice suddenly weak. I looked up at him, seeing his icy eyes glass over and gaze out at the distance. I guessed that it was towards the north…towards the snow.
Towards his home…
“Damien is a decent man.” L’nni continued, walking back along our makeshift path. The snow crunched beneath our feet as the icy top coat collapsed under our weight. The sky was beginning to darken, and small stars peeked out at us from their hiding places. L’nni’s face was troubled as he trudged the familiar path back to my uncle’s cabin, following our dimming footprints. I knew what he was thinking about…He was thinking about his home…
When I thought of my home, images of cars and traffic came to mind. I thought of smog-filled air that left a fowl taste in my mouth, the strange people that hung around on the sidewalks, and the creepy feeling that you’re always being watched. Out in the wilderness where Damien lived, there was nothing like that. Just clean, fresh air, and pure, white snow as far as the eye could see…
To me it was perfect.
But maybe L’nni knew of something even better.
“I’m leaving next week.” The boy said suddenly, turning to me. His statement took me by surprise, and I stopped in my tracks.
“Why?” I asked, feeling my heart plummet. Earlier I couldn’t even remember his name…but he had always been there, trailing behind Damien like a shadow. The cabin without him would seem empty.
“Damien wants to send me to a school…in California, I think.” He continued, pulling me along gently behind him. “He promised that when I graduate, I’ll be ready to fit in with everyone else. Maybe then we can meet up.”
He was smiling again, but it seemed empty. California was far from where he wanted to go…
And for some reason, I had the bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth.
“That’s great.” I replied grinning weakly. “Damien must really care about you.”
“He’s a decent man.” The boy replied, squeezing my hand.
And we continued down the path, oblivious to the snow falling gently around us.

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