The snow piled around the house in large piles that looked like ice cream in a child’s dream. There was already more than the projected six to eight inches the news had predicted. Elaine Brewman stood at the window watching the large snowflakes fall in a never-ending curtain of white. Her children, Dante and Zoe, sat on the sofa staring at the talking animals sing and dance on the television.
“You can make it, Brenda,” Elaine whispered. “You have an SUV. You can make it.”
Elaine’s cell vibrated. It was Brenda, her babysitter.
“I can’t make it.”
Elaine sighed heavy and deep, as the snow drifts outside. “I’ll pay you double for the day.”
“That’d be great if I could leave my driveway. Sorry, Elaine.”
But Brenda was already gone.
Elaine rested her forehead against the cold glass. The movie would only pacify her children for so long. Her phone vibrated in her hand. It was a text from her supervisor, Jean.
It read: Better be working. We’re live tomorrow, girl!
She thought about her blank laptop screen upstairs in her office. There was supposed to be a scene of children having fun in a preschool setting for the Cherry Hill Daycare chain’s website. Cherry Hill had a reputation of being stuffy and pretentious and thus wanted to change their image. The project had been dumped in Elaine’s lap at the last minute after some unpleasantness with the previous marketing team and the Cherry Hill people.
Elaine paused the movie and sat down with her children. She wasn’t too worried about Zoe. She was only three and still compliant, but Dante was five and much more willful.
“You two are going to have to stay down here and watch movies today.”
“But whyyyyyyy?” her children asked simultaneously.
“Because Brenda can’t make it, and you can’t be outside without me.”
“So come out with us,” Dante said.
“I can’t. I have to work. Now promise me you won’t go outside and play without me.”
Dante crossed his arms over his chest. Zoe did the same.
Dante rolled his eyes and muttered his promise not to play outside without her.
Elaine restarted the movie and left Dante and Zoe melted onto the sofa cushions.
Sequestered back in her office, she returned to her desk and got back to work. She started on the project, but the process was slow. She slogged through a rough draft but quickly scrapped it. She allowed the scene to formulate in her mind. The pieces began to fall into place one-by-one. Colors appeared. She could almost hear the children’s laughter.
Her eyes snapped open. The laughter was coming from outside. She glanced out the window overlooking the empty lot on the hillside. There was a large herd of children out playing in the snow.
She growled to block out the noise. “How am I supposed to create a scene of children laughing and playing with all that laughter and playing going on?!”
She watched the kids make snow boulders, roll them down the hill, toss snowballs, and glide down the embankment on plastic sleds.
Inspiration whispered in her ear. She rushed back to her desk and created a rough sketch of her idea for the website. It was fun, it was educational, and it could be thrown together in time for the next day’s presentation.
It was perfect.
An hour passed. Her design, inspired by the weather, consisted of children reading a book about winter and snow exploding from the book’s pages, creating a winter wonderland inside the classroom. Other students were building a snowman next to the whiteboard, and another group was having a snowball fight, using their desks as cover.
It looked so good she actually started to feel cold. Then she noticed she could see her breath. She abandoned the office and the cold slapped her across the face. She ran downstairs. The front door was wide open, and snow was blowing into the house. The carpet in the living room was covered in a half inch of snow. Zoe, bundled up in her winter gear, sat next to a tiny snowman near the end table. Dante came stomping into the house in his snow boots pulling his sled behind him. He pulled it into the house and began dumping the snow onto the floor.
“What are you doing?!” Elaine screamed.
Dante seemed surprised to see her in his indoor winter wonderland.
“I told you you couldn’t play in the snow!”
“No, you said we couldn’t play outside. We’re playing in the snow inside.”
She ran to check the thermostat. Somehow Dante had turned the heat off. She returned to the living room. Dante was hauling in another sled full of snow. It would take hours to clean the mess. Then she spotted Zoe on the floor, picking up mitten-fuls of snow, tossing it into the air, and giggling as it plopped down on her knit cap. The care-free smile was the same one she had used on the little girl in her design. She hadn’t recognized it before.
Dante dumped the snow out onto the carpet and turned to retrieve another haul. A snowball collided with his back and exploded in slush and ice. He spotted his mother on the other side of the room, holding another snowball.
“When we’re done, we’re going to clean this mess, and the new carpets are coming out of your college fund…as soon as I save enough to start one. But for now…”
She threw the snowball. This one hit Zoe and knocked her onto her backside. Then all three were digging up snow from the carpet and flinging snowballs across the room, all while the front door hung wide open. Their laughter slipped through the door and was immediately swallowed by the swirling winds.