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Snowfall

Chapter 2

Emma

When the first flake falls Emma believes she is seeing things. Wishful thinking. Or maybe it was just a speck of dust.

Then she sees another.

And another.

And another.

White crumbs are falling down from the sky, gentler than feathers. Mouth agape, eyes wide, Emma reaches out a hand as far as she can while holding onto the window frame. A snowflake drifts down to her hand, instantly melting when it touches her skin, leaving a spark of cold on her palm. Emma’s mouth widens into a grin, her heart filling with a happiness she has not felt in a long time.

She didn’t think it was true, she didn’t think her prayers would finally be answered, but here it is. Snow! Jack Frost finally heard her, if he really is out there somewhere.

Emma tugs on her boots, snatches up a hat and scarf, and races downstairs. She cuts through the living room and heads into the guest bedroom to tell her parents she’s going out for a bit, but pauses in the doorway.

Her mother is lying on a twin bed, her green eyes closed, skin sickly white, bald head, once thick with brown hair, glistening in the light from the lamp on the nightstand next to her. Every time she takes a breath from the air mask covering her nose and mouth she makes this terrible wheezing noise, like it’s a struggle to make her lungs expand even though her life depends on it. Emma is grateful for the heart monitor. Each beep is another assurance that her mother is going to live at least a little while longer.

Emma’s father is passed out on the other bed, five empty beer bottles scattered across the floor, one half empty resting against his chest with his hand still wrapped around the neck. Emma sighs and massages her temple with her fingers, all previous excitement forgotten for the moment. Aunt Marcy doesn’t like alcohol, especially around her kids, so how her father managed to sneak some in Emma isn’t sure. She suspects it has something to do with the locked ice chest she can see behind the half-closed closet door. If Aunt Marcy finds out they will be kicked out for sure and there is no telling if her mom will make the trip back home this time, ambulance or not.

Her fingers reach up to brush against a small cross hanging on a thin chain resting a few inches below her collarbone, the cool metal against her skin comforting. It was her mother’s, given to Emma when they first found out she had cancer. Her mom told her that, no matter what happens, she will always be with her to give her strength.

Emma needs that strength now.

Tip toeing as quietly as she can, Emma creeps over to her father and slowly pries his fingers away from the glass bottle. She then goes to the kitchen, empties the contents into the sink, grabs one of the plastic shopping bags her aunt likes to reuse, and goes to collect the rest of the bottles. At least I still get to go outside to see the snow, Emma thinks to herself as she grabs her bright blue coat from the coat rack next to the front door. Once her hat and scarf are also in place she picks up her garbage and heads out into the cold.

The snow is even more beautiful than when she gazed at it out her window. It is completely dark by now, but she can still see the snowflakes sparkle in the light from the lamp post. On a whim, Emma tilts her head back and sticks out her tongue. It takes her a few patient minutes but she eventually catches a snowflake with her tongue, the cold sending pleasant chills down her spine. Getting back to her task, Emma deposits the trash into the garbage can sitting at the end of the driveway and turns to go back inside. Before closing the front door behind her, Emma stares back out at the snow and says, “Thank you for this. If you don’t mind, though, please grant me one more wish? Please, Jack Frost, let it snow all through the night so that by morning everything is covered in white.”


Jack

The look of disbelief on her face is priceless. Jack gets a little worried as the girl leans out the window precariously, but when she brightens into a grin he can’t help but smile back. Almost all traces of sadness recede from her eyes, making Jack glad he could help her, even though he considers what he did really small. He’s never seen anyone, not even a child, so happy to see a little snow.

The girl races out of Jamie’s room and Jack floats down to the front yard to wait for her. After a few minutes she still hasn’t come out, making Jack consider going inside the house to see what’s taking so long, but then the door opens and she steps out into the snow. Jack looks into her eyes, hoping to see the fire there again that he saw earlier, but it isn’t as bright now, causing him to frown.

“Hey, why so sad again?” he asks. “What possibly could have happened in the few minutes it took you to get out here?”

The girl tilts her head back suddenly, sticking her tongue out, and Jack chuckles, musings forgotten. He’s seen kids do that so many times over the centuries, but never someone as old as her.

Jack walks next to her as she gets rid of her garbage and walks her back to the house. As she’s about to close the door behind her she pauses and looks directly at Jack, almost as if she can see him even though he knows she can’t. Then she says, “Thank you for this. If you don’t mind, though, please grant me one more wish? Please, Jack Frost, let it snow all through the night so that by morning everything is covered in white.”

Jack grins. “I was hoping you’d say that.”


After feeding the sky some more ice, ensuring the girl’s wish will be granted, Jack flies up to the still open window to go in search of Jamie. Jack looks in other rooms down the hall and almost runs through Jamie’s mom as she walks out of Sophie’s room. With a “Goodnight, you two” she shuts the bedroom door and heads for her own room.

When the mom is out of sight Jack quietly opens Sophie’s door and slips inside. He raises an eyebrow at the sight of Jamie and Sophie sleeping side by side in the little girl’s bed.

“So,” Jack says, “what’s going on, guys?”

Jamie opens his eyes and gasps in surprise while Sophie remains soundly asleep.

“Jack!” Jamie yells as he tries to detach himself from the covers.

“Shhh!” Jack holds a finger to his lips. “Do you want your mom to come back in here?”

Jamie cringes, glancing at the door. When he doesn’t hear any footsteps heading for their door, the boy tiptoes over to Jack and gives him a hug.

“Where have you been?” Jamie whispers.

“You know. Around.” Jack floats in the air in front of the boy while sitting cross-legged, his staff resting in the crook of his arm. “Winter did only just get here.”

“I know that, but you could have still visited.”

Jack smirks, glad his first believer missed him. “So, why are you sleeping in Sophie’s room and who’s that girl in your room?”

“You mean Emma?”

Jack rubs his chin in thought. “So that’s her name….”

Jamie nods. “Yeah, she and her mom and dad just got here today. Her mom’s really sick so they’ve come to live with us for a little while. While they’re here Emma’s staying in my room and I’m stuck sharing with Sophie.” He grimaces at the last part.

Jack’s brow furrows. “Is it serious, what her mom has?”

The boy shrugs. “I don’t know. They won’t really tell me anything cause I’m just a kid and they think I won’t understand. But…I think it’s bad. Aunt Grace is a lot skinnier than she used to be and she has to where this breathing mask thing and she looks as pale as you.”

I wonder if that’s why she looks so sad, Jack thinks to himself.

The two freeze when they hear footsteps coming and look at the door, but the feet keep moving and then they hear the sound of Jamie’s bedroom door opening and closing.

Emma…I wish I could do something more for her. But she can’t see me. Jack turns towards the window and stares at the falling snow. An idea starts to slowly form in his mind. She did ask me for snow, and it wasn’t a general wish. She asked me specifically. And she has that book about me. I’m sure the other Guardians are in it, too, so it’s not like she’s totally against the idea that we exist. Maybe, just maybe….

Jack looks at Jamie, a mischievous smile spreading across his face that the boy knows all too well. He grins back.

“Hey, Jamie, you wanna have a little fun tomorrow?”

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