The Snowflake

December 25, 2011
By , Boone, IA
The walk to the mailbox is chilly. It's almost Christmas and there is no snow in my small town in Iowa. To me it looks like fall has just begun and summer has just ended. The leaves are scattered on the ground as if they have just fallen off the trees. My hurried pace brings crackling leaves, cold toes, and a destination that comes closer with every step. The mailbox is only plain metal, no decorations in sight to help liven up the desolate town. I quickly open my mailbox. The cold seeps through my knitted gloves to bite my fingers. The mail is laying deep inside, only a few letters and a small box. I swiftly pick up the mail, close the lid, and dash back inside.

The mail is dropped onto my kitchen counter and my outer clothing is discarded on the floor. I warm my hands by the oven, which is baking gingerbread men. The house smells homely with a candle burning in every room. The aroma is a mixture of cinnamon, peppermint, a pine tree, and of course, the gingerbread. I ponder what I should do next, check the candles or read the mail. I pick to read the mail. I have received four envelopes; one electric bill, two Christmas cards, and a letter from an old friend. We haven't corresponded for over ten years and I'm surprised she remembers my address. We met back in the summer of 2001 during a church retreat to Europe. We shared sister seats on the plane from the United States. She was unique, hard to forget, but somehow she was forgotten. Her perfect cursive brings back heartfelt memories from the trip. I turn the envelope over and carefully tear it open. Inside is something simple and beautiful. It is a paper snowflake that's cut to perfection. I read the letter that goes along with it.

In this envelope you have acquired a snowflake. This snowflake has a goal to travel the world. Your choice in what you do with it is yours alone. If you send it, mail it to someone that's slipped your mind. If you keep it, hang it in your window. If you toss it, well...let's hope you skip this option.

When you finish reading this letter please sign your name, city, and state (province or country is an alternate for state) so we all know where this snowflake has been.

Underneath the writing was a list of the requested information. Looking upon the countries, I realize this snowflake has been almost everywhere; Lagos, Nigeria, Whitehorse, Yukon, even Thessaloniki, Greece. There are forty-six names and forty-six different cities. I read the last entry. Arabella Dudek-Caldwell, Idaho. I wonder why she sent this to me. This chain mail is child's play. I put the snowflake and letter back into the envelope and set it back on the counter.

I walk into my living room to turn on the TV. I sip some of my black coffee while flipping through the channels. Nothing seems to interest me. I turn the TV off. I sit in the silence and I wait to hear the ding of the timer to notify me that the gingerbread is done. I let my mind wander and Arabella pops into my head. Her infectious laugh, her carefree smile, her innocent disposition...Ding! I jump at the bright sound because it doesn't quite belong in my daydream. A second later I'm in the kitchen and opening the oven. The hot, dry air assaults my face and body. I burn my hand on the pan because I've failed to remember to use an oven mitt. How stupid of me, how could I forget the oven mitt? I pick up the mitt I set out and put the pan on top of the stove. As I'm putting away the mitt I glance at the envelope. I know she would want me to send it on. She loved stuff like this. I shut the drawer. I pick up the envelope and open it once more. Finding a pen I slowly write my name out on the next line. Leonard Kaiser-Stanhope, Iowa. I locate a new envelope and write my address out in the top left corner. I look through my iPhone for faraway addresses. Seeing one, I write it out on the envelope and stick a stamp on it. I head into my office to find a piece of notebook paper. I designate it to a single person. One I've missed for a long time. Arabella.

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Taphephobia This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm
I really like this. It sounded like it would be sort of boring honestly but I think it's very well-written and a very nice concept. Very well done.
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