By Peach 00
The cold bitter weather – it always came early in the year, especially up north. Within the long pasture, there was almost two feet of snow piled up high, almost to my knees each time I stepped with heavy snow boots. I could only stare at this winter wonderland the sky and clouds had created for us, a natural heaven for only the two of us to enjoy. But for me, I only thought of those missing from my life.
I stood, just looking upward at the grey, overcast weather that hovered above the two of us. Suddenly I felt the hard hit of a ball formation strike my leg, and for a moment I nearly yelped at the cold hit. I gawked at the area to my left, seeing my friend grin at her ghoulish wit and prankster attitude.
“What were you gazing at?” she asked. “You know I always hit distracted people.” She expressed that same wolfish grin, a glee seeming to build inside her. I smiled back, wiping the snow off the jeans I wore. But as I was bending down, I quickly took a mound of snow and threw at her. It hit her square in the chest, although I had made sure it wouldn’t be a hard hit. She laughed at my competitive nature.
“It doesn’t feel so good, does it?” I said, laughing. But she took it in stride, without a care in the world as she smirked at me. That same grin that Marianne could always cheer me up with… “I suggest we declare snowball warfare. Your thoughts?”
“Sure. We’ve got plenty of time, it’s only ten now,” Marianne responded. “Any specific rules?” I put a gloved finger to my chin, thinking carefully. A set of rules dawned on me, and it didn’t take me long to organize my thoughts.
“Yeah,” I answered. “Rule number one: No going across this – ” I paused for a moment to search for a stick, and when I found one, I drew a bold line across the flat area. “ – boundary, as this is my territory. Yours – ” Again, I paused to draw another bold line at least twenty feet away from my line. “ – is over there.
“Rule number two: No barricades or snow walls. You can build piles of snow so you have a snowball supply, but no barricades. Rule number three: When a player has fallen or is taking ten seconds or more to get up, you are not allowed to throw snowballs at them.”
“That all of them, Sarah?” she questioned, and I nodded. “In that case, I’ll be building a few snow piles. We’ve got two minutes, let’s say?” I shrugged, but still nodded.
Carefully I walked on the snow, beginning to build tall crystallized snow edifices as a strong snowball supply. I suddenly felt the soft and gentle touch of a snow flake hit my cheek, like powdered sugar falling from the sky as flurries started to blow in the bitter wind. I paused for a moment, staring at my friend.
Marianne was considered a very tall girl for her age, only being fourteen. She was at least five-foot six, which was a little taller than most of those who were her age. She had long brown hair, unable to see because most of it was tucked underneath the bobble-headed knit had she wore. She had lovely brown eyes that showed a small amount of emotion, but always had a friendly look about them.
Of course, that was always her nature, whether it was translated into a more aggressive approach to friendship. This meant pranks and jokes, but when she embarrassed somebody or made fun of them more than anybody else, it usually meant she had a soft spot for the person and considered them a friend.
For a moment, I simply sniffed at the air, catching a whiff of a sweet aroma. I saw the line of eleagnus bushes far down the pasture, and I gazed at the rose garden that was some hundred feet away, up near Marianne’s house. Even though the scent of the eleagnus was powerful, the roses that grew at the garden housed a wonderful smell within the flower. But the distraction of the smell threw me off guard, as Marianne began to pelt me with snowballs.
“Remember what I said earlier?” she said, laughing once again with that same smile. I duck behind the snow structure, taking a clump of snow from the pinnacle. Smoothing it with my hands and creating it to be a powdery ball, I brought my arm back and thrust the ball forward.
I watched as the ball took aim at her shoulder, and I began forming another snowball. It didn’t take long for me to gain a lead in points, as each hit counted as a point. She had hit me three times and I had hit her five. Of course, I knew this lead wouldn’t last long.
Eventually we both stopped, and just sat down. We began talking – things happening in the world, what careers we might choose in the future – everything. She would smile every once and awhile at my responses and what I’d ask. Even though I was basically still a kid (I was twelve-years-old), she still treated me as though I was her age.
We both passed questions back and forth, even if they were simplistic and repeated. “What movies have you seen recently?” I asked. She almost laughed at first, but she still answered.
“If you mean in the movie theater, then no,” she said. “Everything costs too much in theaters, but I saw the last addition to the Harry Potter series recently.” A smile touched my lips for a moment as I basically played the movie in my head.
“I saw that one in theaters with a friend of mine,” I responded. “Filling candy in our pocketbooks makes for less spending, considering candy is expensive at the movie theater. You can get a pack of eight small candies for a dollar, yet you can get a four-ounce package of Junior Mints for three dollars.”
She laughed at my acknowledgement, showing a grin on her face. It turned to just a smile as her eyes gazed at my face. “You know, you’re rather smart,” she said, hiding nothing and being quite frank.
“Isn’t that the object when you’re learning things?” I joked, and she couldn’t help but giggle ever so slightly.
“You know what I mean,” Marianne replied, still smiling. “You know a lot about things that others your age don’t care to understand. At your age, girls are still playing with their dolls and having their secret handshakes, their Hello Kitty backpacks and things. You seem more mature.”
“My brothers tend to rub off on me, I suppose,” I answered. “I can participate in conversations with other people around three to five years older than me, conversations with adults even. I can counsel friends and the like in bad times, whenever they’re feeling down. I like to cheer people up and solve their problems. To make them feel better, you know?”
For a moment we stayed silent, and she just moved her gloved hand back and forth in the snow. It was rather awkward, but reluctantly I began another conversation.
“Y’know, I’ve always been interested in psychiatry,” I said to her. “My family seems like an interesting case-study - like preview to how well I can solve people’s problems and help them. My parents argue a lot, and I figure I go back and forth between caring if they stay together or not caring if they stay together. Maybe it’s just me.”
“What do you do when they argue?” Marianne questioned.
“Luckily enough for me,” I began, “I don’t live with my parents. My brother moved out, and so did my other brother. I asked if I could go with them, and they let me tag along. So, our house just consists of me and my two brothers. I have no clue what’s happened with my parents, and although I may not seem like I care, I kinda do.”
She bowed her head for a moment, and then I continued.
“I hear them argue and I can only think of reasons that would help them,” I said. “Reasons they don’t realize most of the time. It depends, honestly.”
She shrugged, and then I began to stand. “Let’s get out of this conversation,” I began quickly. “It’s bringing back some memories I don’t exactly like remembering, to be honest.” Marianne smiled, and it didn’t take us long to find an exciting activity within the snow-covered pasture. I looked up at the sky, seeing flurries begin to form gradually.
The grey skies were clouded by dark, heavy snow clouds, but I gawked at other things, like the bare, grey tree branches within the woods around. The area around wasn’t exactly a suburban area, which was nice. It was quiet, and you could hear the squirrels dancing and skipping across the snow lightly, the birds chirping above merrily as they fed their younglings and built nests. I could always see rabbits burrowing into the ground while deer gracefully frolicked in the winter weather.
Winter was always lovely, but I missed the warm, sunny days of autumn weather.
“Hey,” I said suddenly. “Why don’t we make a snowman, just for fun?” Marianne chuckled, grinning.
“Everybody makes a snowman just for fun,” she answered. “But, what the heck, let’s do it.” I knelt down to meet the ground, taking a lump of snow and already beginning to roll it. She did the same, and within a minute the two snowballs were already a foot tall. Of course, there was still at least two feet of snow on the ground.
Eventually, we had a two feet high snowball, putting a foot-high one on top of it. In width, it was at least a foot to two feet wide. We rolled another snowball, a half a foot in width and a half a foot in height. This we put on the top, and now we only had the minor things left – the finishing touches.
“All right, I say we snap twigs in half and put them as eyes and a smile,” I suggested. “For the nose, take a long stick and snap it just so it has a point at the end,” We followed my suggestions, and finally I took small, thick branch.
“What are you doing, Sarah?” Marianne asked in an almost nervous tone.
“Dear snowman, have a cigar,” I responded, and both of us laughed. I aimed the ‘cigar’ towards the mouth of the snowman. “You’re gonna go far.” Marianne chortled, a vibrant expression appearing on her face. “All right, now what?”
“Why don’t we walk around the woods?” Marianne suggested. “There are bridges around here, if you haven’t already seen them. There are plenty of walkways and paths I know, so let’s go follow one of those trails.” I nodded, and I followed her direction as we began to saunter through the woods.
As we walked, we talked more. “You know what I’ve always wanted?” I said suddenly. She shook her head, a look of wonder in her eyes. It was almost as though there a question hidden between the brown.
“This beautiful necklace at that little jewelry store in town,” I answered. “It’s this gold necklace with a beautiful garnet stone, and it has these little, dark yellow gems surrounding it. Every stone is embedded in a wonderful, teardrop-shaped gold encasement. Every week I go down there just to look at it and try it on…to look at myself in the mirror. The garnet matches my red hair, and all the yellow stones seem to match with the green of my eyes.”
Marianne smiled, and I could see she was imagining it in her mind. I sighed quietly, knowing that having that would cost too much beyond what I had or even what my brother’s make in a week.
“I can see it being very pretty,” she said. For the meantime, we just talked and continued to walk through the woods, and I only could think of that necklace for the time being.
After about four hours of fun out in the snow, we returned to our respective homes. It was now a week after I had last seen Marianne. My brothers, with their usual curiosity and caring nature (which they only adopted after I joined them at the house), asked me how the day went. When I went outside to grab the mail from the mailbox, I saw something wrapped in a small, blue package on the ground.
At the top there was a small piece of paper and a translucent, cream-tinted ribbon wrapped around it. I also noticed a pair of keys, which confused me, but I knelt down to view the paper, unfolding it to read it.
I gave you this paper so you would know that my family will be out of town for a few days. Here are the keys to our house, so you and your brothers can maybe clean the house. For your troubles, I have enclosed a small token of my appreciation for doing this and for the walk in the woods.
I hope things might get better for you soon, and I hope you enjoy my gift.
I put down the piece of paper, feeling tenderness in my heart. I quickly began to open the little box, and I saw a small, black velvet case on the inside. I opened the velvet case, and my heart skipped a beat.
That necklace…that necklace I had always loved so much. I could have sworn I was hearing my heart thumping within my chest at the surprise. I didn’t know what to feel, to say, to do – it confused me at how she had gotten it. But I was nonetheless thankful, and I took it gently from the case to put around my neck.
It was a simple present, but it meant the world to me – not just because it was the necklace, but the thought that was in it. I knew it would always hold a special place in my heart, as I would remember it for a long time.
I would remember it in these winter years.
A little something I concocted awhile ago, as well something I posted in my blog a month or two back. I got some positive results there, so I figured I'd try it here. Hope you enjoyed it - C&C is welcome.