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All Snow Storms Come Eventually

The scent of peppermint flows up the stairs, and I take a deep breath as the aroma of the minty remnants of the hot chocolate I’d been drinking earlier waft up to my room. It’s a special tradition between my mom and me: the Friday before every Christmas Eve, we make peppermint hot chocolate and sit by the fireplace, warming our toes. I brush the hair out of my eyes, tying it back neatly in a ponytail, and plop down on the bed, avoiding the inevitable: cleaning off my desk. I tried to finish it days ago, going through some of the stuff and sorting them based on importance, but I’ve continuously gotten distracted.
Looking at the piled desktop, I sigh and glance down at the box before me, filled with photos, wads of paper, stuffed animals. My parents’ happy faces beam back up at me, and I trace the laugh lines pressed into their cheeks. I’m nestled in between them, proudly showing off the gap in my front teeth. Besides those few photographs, there’s not much else that I really want to keep, but my mom’s insisting that I can’t just throw it all out, that I’ll want it some day. I’d rather just throw them all out, though – some stuff just isn’t worth keeping. Like that Hello Kitty doll my dad got me, for instance.
I used to love Hello Kitty so much when I was younger. I’d talk to her, tell her my problems, and she would always be there to listen to me or to lend a shoulder to cry on. As I aged, I stopped needing her; she became irrelevant, more of a trophy in a glass case than a friend that I would confide in. I didn’t play with her, and so she stayed on her little corner of the desk, gathering dust as she remained untouched. As I pick her up, I take the soft fabric of her faded dress, rubbing it between my fingers. My hands reach for the ear that is no longer there, and they graze her string mouth that’s hanging by a thread so thin it’s threatening to fall off.
I glance at the desk as I put her in the box to be locked up with the photos, with the old drawings, with the rubber band balls, and I see the distinct chink made years ago. Pressing my finger into the deep-seated cracks, I felt a sharp pang of pain. Looking down at my finger, it’s running red, and a drop falls into the gap.
I can still remember the day it happened, you know. The day that I made the chink. I don’t think that it’s a day I can ever forget, no matter how much I may want to. It happened on my aunt’s birthday, when my parents had left my older brother and me at home with a babysitter. Mimi. That was her name. I’d never met her before, and after that night she was never seen again, but I loved her name. It was consistent, a repetition. I kind of wished all names were like that.
They didn’t come home for a while, my parents. It was pretty late, but Mimi was the best sitter I’ve ever had. You know, the kind that showed you where your parents hid the junk food and let you stay up all night to watch cartoons. I fell asleep in front of the TV, a little bundle on the couch, and Mimi threw a blanket over me, tucking me in before retreating to the sitting room. I’d felt happy. Warm. Safe, even. It had been a change from the constant bickering that I was used to, the bickering over small and unimportant details, the bickering that drove parents, people, apart.
That all changed when they came through the door, angry and bitter. I was torn from my dreams by a sharp hand, woken up by the shrill shouts and the fighting. When I looked up, I saw Mimi slinking out the front door, putting a finger to her mouth as my mom and dad, two people who were supposed to love each other for the rest of their lives, for the rest of my life, were battling each other, hate glinting in their eyes.
I snuck up the stairs so they wouldn’t notice me. I’d seen my parents fight before, but each time it happened, it got worse and worse. The screams increased in volume, the waving fingers became shoves, the make-ups took longer. My parents were two people who knew what they were doing in a fight – they never cried, never showed any weaknesses. Their rough skin protected them from the world around them, a barrier between themselves and the outside.
As I closed the door, I tried to calm myself down. It’s just another fight, I promised. It’s just another fight, and soon it will be over. Soon, they’ll be hugging each other, crying as they swear to never hurt each other again. Soon, things will be back to normal. I had repeated this to myself enough times that I truly believed it, and held my Hello Kitty tightly as she wiped my tears away.
But that soon never came. Through the crack in my door, I saw my dad stomp to their room, a suitcase in hand, and come down only minutes later, storming out. When he slammed the door, it was like my mom had been slapped, woken up from her world where nothing could harm her. Her strong shell came undone, and she kneeled to the ground, sobbing. I closed my door in shock; It was the first time I’d ever seen her cry, and one of the very few until this point in my life. I tripped over the edge of my desk, causing my favorite snow globe to wobble, nearly falling off.
As I picked it up, my hands shaking, I felt them give way and the snow globe crashed onto the wood of the desk. The artificial snow bounced around, covering the area, and a shard of glass left a long scar running down the corner. Anxious about how my mother would react when she found out, I used my hands to clean up the white beads and the glass pieces, cutting my hands in the process. I threw them into an old backpack, a place I knew my mother would never look. Grabbing my Hello Kitty, I mopped up the water and placed her over the crack, now invisible to those who never bothered to look.
Hello Kitty hadn’t been with me for very long before that night, but I had felt like I had known her my whole life. My dad and I had gotten her together at this Christmas festival about a month before he left. We used to go every year as a family, but my brother had been sick that year, so my mom stayed home with him while my dad took me.
It had been a typical New England December evening, and my cheeks were a rosy color from the soft wind brushing against it. It was flurrying, and I twirled around in circles as the flakes fell in my hair, a little pattern of white dots against the brown. I grabbed my dad’s hand, leading him through the crowds of people, all pausing to chat as they ate their gingerbread or sipped their eggnog. While the other kids had all been so eager to get on the rides or to stuff their faces with cotton candy, there was only one thing I wanted.
I’d seen the stall on our way into the festival, glowing red and green from the Christmas lights strung around it. On the top, one of the highest prizes, was a Hello Kitty doll, about the size of an average teddy bear. As a kid, Hello Kitty had been one of my favorite toys; I had the Hello Kitty dollhouse, the Hello Kitty lunch box, the Hello Kitty pajamas. I even covered my desk in Hello Kitty stickers. I knew from the moment that I saw her that I would get her, no matter what. Her pale white fur was radiant, and her dress was a bright, clear pink. She was perfect, from the tips of her ears to the bottom of her paws.
The game was a bit trickier than most of the other ones at the festival, but I begged my dad to let me try. As we paid the lady behind the stall, buying three rings, I took them in my hands and threw them one by one, but my small arms were no match. It was exasperating, watching as the metal rings fell short of the glass bottles, tunneling themselves deep into the snow, their frozen barrier. I turned to my dad, eyes brimming with tears, and he smiled at me, smoothed out my hair, and gave the girl another dollar. Only this time, when she handed him the rings, he kept them.
He threw them all, each landing perfectly on a glass bottle. My heart had soared, gleeful about getting to hold Hello Kitty in my arms, getting to feel the soft fabric against my skin as I pressed my face into her, but it plummeted when my dad gave me my prize; it was a small, grey dog, about a quarter of her in size. Its beady eyes stared up at me, and my eyes were burning and wet. I, being the stubborn child I was, demanded that he get me the Hello Kitty.
An hour later, we were still standing at the stall, five of those little grey dogs bundled up in my hands, but I begged my dad to keep trying, and he knew how important she was to me. Eight wins were all it took, all I needed to get her. I think the girl behind the stall took pity on my dad, since he’d spent more money than I could possibly have counted trying to make me happy, and agreed to give it to us for only seven.
I held her in my arms, my perfect doll, but I didn't feel as happy as I thought I would. I loved that cat so much, and, though it may not seem like it now, I still do, but something was off. Looking back on it, and older, wiser me, I can sense that the feeling, the feeling which had no name to me at six, was guilt. It had nothing to do with getting the doll, that was pure happiness. But as I gave the dogs away, handing them back to be won by other children, I felt a pang for their loss. I wanted to know what it was like, what it would be like, to play with them, to take care of them, but I'd quickly pushed that out of my head. I wanted Hello Kitty, and I got her, didn't I?
“Lily!” My dad calls from the bottom of the stairs, jolting me from my thoughts. I almost forgot that he was coming tonight, and I sigh as I put the box back on my floor. Today’s the day, the Friday before Christmas Eve. “We’re going to be late!”
“One second!” I shout back, and I scramble frantically to get a bag ready to take with me to his home.
“You don’t want to miss the festival, do you? We’ve gone every year since you were 3! It’s a tradition.” He says exasperatedly, and the comment makes me stop in my tracks. I may have been to the Christmas festival every year since then, but not with him. Not always with him.
Six years ago, it was my mom who took me. I found out the day of the festival, when he called me. I’d been sitting at my desk, getting ready, when I picked up the phone. I’d been so excited when I first heard the ringing – I had been anticipating that he was just an hour early, that he was just as excited as I was. But after he started talking, after I heard the caution in his tone, I knew that the small talk he was making would lead to something worse. A minute later, he broke the news to me.
I sat at my desk, holding back the tears. I rubbed my finger along the crack in the desk, now more distinct than it had ever been, ignoring the small pain that was somewhat comforting. This was something that I’d been looking forward to for days, something that had been important to me.
My mom walked by my room and saw me there, hunched over, and came in to put an arm around me. As she wiped my tears from my eyes, she promised that she wouldn’t let me miss this. Now, this meant a lot to me; my mom really hates the cold, a trait that I inherited as I grew older, and it was supposed to snow heavily that night. Nevertheless, she swore to stick it out for me, and we got in her car and drove.
Surprisingly, the weather was perfect considering the forecast. We got to the festival, and the air was warm for a December evening – it didn’t even feel as though it belonged in Connecticut. My mom and I bought some eggnog and sipped it happily, then went to play some of the games they had. Though I loved that my mom had taken me, I truly had, being there with her felt different. It was something I’d done with my dad, and nothing could replace him or the memories that we’d built together.
At the end of the night, my mom went and bought me some cotton candy. I pulled it off the stick, twirling it around my finger in a swirl and ate it, licking all the sticky sugar off. My mom smoothed down my hair, asking me to wait while she brought the car around. I nodded in agreement, and went back to my cotton candy, concentrating on how it dissolved in my mouth.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my dad, and I wondered why he would come here alone, especially after he told me his attendance was impossible. At first, I’d been excited: I thought that my mom told him she was taking me instead, and he came out here to surprise me. I’d been prepared to call out to him, to say he didn’t need to look for me anymore, but as I opened my mouth, I saw her.
My dad hugged her tightly and kissed her on the cheek, putting his arm around her waist. In her perfectly manicured hands was Hello Kitty. My Hello Kitty, with her soft, pink dress and yellow bow tie. It wasn’t until further inspection that I noticed she wasn’t my kitty, not at all – she was better. Her dress and her bow, though of the same design, were bright and clean. She was about twice the size of mine, barely fitting in the woman’s hands. Everything about her was perfect – they both were perfect, in a way that my Hello Kitty and I would never be. I later found out that she was the type of woman who kept everything flawless, never allowing anything to look as if its been used or aged – that Hello Kitty has remained perfect, even to this day.
I had heard a loud honk, a signal that my mom came back. As I turned around to look for her car, I felt something cold and wet touch my face. Lifting up my fingers, I wiped the bit of snow off my nose and shook my head as I headed toward the road, sending little white flecks all over. The snow continued to pour as I wadded my way toward my mom’s car, frightening and menacing – that storm that was supposed to happen did come, just not when any of us had been expecting it.
As we drove home that night, I managed to hold the tears back and watch the swirling snow. I refused to admit to my mother, to admit to myself, that anything was wrong. The second we reached our house, I threw myself onto the bed, crying into the pillow until my sides hurt. After what seemed like ages, I dried my tears and went to grab my Hello Kitty. My eyes had still been blurry from the tears, and I, unable to see, knocked her over and flinched as I heard a tear; Hello Kitty’s mouth was sown on poorly, and she hung from the corner of my desk with the string flopping against her face. Placing her back, I couldn’t help but notice how deep the chink in the desk had gotten, how much it grew.
That was the last day I truly remember going to Hello Kitty for comfort, truth be told. I no longer saw her as my doll – she was that woman’s, and I wanted nothing to do with her. My dad introduced us a few months later, giving me a stepmom in a year. As her Hello Kitty sat on the bed, clean and brand new, mine remained on the desk, gathering dust and slowly falling to pieces.
“Lily!” I’m once again pulled abruptly from my thoughts. My dad sounds angry this time, and I hear my mom whisper something to him. “If you don’t get down here right now, I’m not taking you at all!”
“I’m just putting my boots on!” I lie, scrambling to get them on. Out of the corner of my eye, I see his car parked in the driveway, a dark shadow sitting in the front seat. Curious, I walk to the window, and gasp as I see her sitting there. He’s never taken that woman before, not with me. I angrily put on my coat, watching as flurries of snow fall from the sky, and stomp out my door, embracing the harshness of the winter night.





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