What is Drastic + Dramatic

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Men of Snow



They had their snow suits, gloves and boots and they carefully etched a trail to the middle, one stepping in the prints of the other.

"Let's make snow angels," said Ellie, jumping into each step of the larger stride of her big brother's best friend.

"Lame," said big brother Jack, casting back a why-do-you-always-have-to-tag-along look at the hopping mass of pink snowsuit. "We're going to make forts, and snowmen to battle each other with snow balls!" His loud, un-lame idea tried to stretch into the silence only to freeze and drift back to the ground with the great, quiet flakes.

"Yeah, snow fight!" cried Fred pumping fists and enthusiasm into the air.

Ellie stopped jumping after them and, totally unimpressed by their war plans, trudged her own path toward the small incline at the back of the house, designing her own plans for a snow house with all its amenities, especially angels.

She didn't pay any attention to her brother and Fred as they made the forts, which was a slow process since they kept using pieces of it to test the warring distance. And then when they started making snow men she concentrated fully on the snow couch she was packing. She hummed so she couldn't hear them charging each other with all sorts of absurd crimes as they made piles of snow-packed ammunition. With her hearth and home complete she set out to surround it with angels, and didn't pay any attention to their devilish launches and counter-attacks. When her corner was complete, she was so bothered by their complete disregard for her existence that she went inside to thaw.

Inside, Mom had boiling water for hot cocoa waiting. Removing her snow clothes obediently by the door, Ellie tiptoed toward the stove. She wasn't trying to be quiet. Somehow on tip toe it's just warmer.

She gratefully took a styrofoam cup and glided to a window to watch the war. They didn't see her watch, they didn't notice the steam of her hot cocoa fogging up the glass. But that gave her an idea. She stepped gracefully over her wet clothes, avoiding any melted puddles (wet socks are the worst) and opened the door to the porch.

"Hey guys," she cooed, hopping from foot to foot. "Mom made hot choooocolate!" And just as she suspected, only food could penetrate the pretend of boy, to finally get his attention. They came running. But not before Jack tackled Fred and a white wash war of two minutes ensued.

Red-cheeked, -eared and -nosed snow boys came stomping up to the door and Ellie hopped back inside before the whole floor became an unavoidable puddle. She waited, standing with cup in hands, to see where Fred would choose to sit.

* * *

From outside, the house quickly disappeared in a curtain of flurried flakes, pouring from the frozen sky. The veiled sun was soon setting and the boys' snowball battle was adjourned to a later time.

Midnight materialized out of minutes and pushed the clouds away and breathed a clear, starry sigh over the house. The snowmen, three in total, shook their powdered heads and shrugged their frosted shoulders.

"Where am I?" Said the one with the scarf, whose eyes had been forgotten.

"Who are you?" Said the one with eyes of stone.

"I. . .I'm" he faltered. "I don't know. How can I know?"

Stone stared. "I don't know."

"If I could see you I would know who I am not." added Scarf vacantly

"Well, I'm a soldier." Said the third, looking down to see a toy gun halter around his middle.

"Soldier," Stone began, "be on your guard; there appears to have been a battle here recently."

"What happened?" asked Scarf. "Tell me, I can't see."

Stone swiveled at his waist to register a 360 degree inspection. "I see two strongholds . . . one square, one slightly rounded. Both seem to have been abandoned. It must have taken place much longer in the past than I suspected. . ."

"Well," observed the soldier. "I think we's actually was here when the battle was goin' on."

"What? How is that possible? I would have seen something."

"I would have heard something, no doubt," said Scarf absently.

"And I woulda finally seen some action!" The soldier stuck his twig arms into the sky.

"Stay focused, soldier. You said you think we were already here. Explain yourself," ordered Stone.

"Oh, right. Dude, you've got some of those ammunition balls . . on you . . ." He ended cautiously.

Stone looked down and saw on his body what he had seen on the ground.

"I see," he said perturbedly. "Did you think maybe I just have a rough figure?"

"I believe that," offered Scarf. "Besides, battles involve Big Bangs, anyway, which I never heard, in all my time listening, never heard." His theoretical mumbling continued, ignored by the other two much like his very presence.

A tree above them shivered and burdened boughs dropped snowy shells on the unsuspecting targets below.

Looking up now for the first time, Stone and the soldier cried out and promptly trundled their round forms out of harm's way.

"What, what's happening?" yawned Scarf until snow fell on him and interrupted his stretch. He clutched his arms in around his middle.

After the flurry dissolved, the other two looked at him. "Is ya'okay?" asked the soldier.

"What was that stuff?" he shook his top and patted his middle, then wiggled at his bottom.

"No idea," said Stone, inspecting the ground and then the heavens again. "It came from above, all of a sudden, no warning, apparently with no intended aim since it did you no harm."

The soldier patrolled between the two forts now, his curiosity and drive for warfare heightened. Stone let his head trace the soldier's search back and forth.

Scarf, still patting his middle, tilted his round head. "That stuff, the stuff that came from above just now. I think I'm made of it."

The others froze.

There was a long, uncertain silence.

"Scarf," Stone started, but stopped again, confused.

"Yes?" Scarf tuned his head to the sound of Stone's voice.

"The stuff that just fell on you," said the soldier delicately, "is the stuff that these here war balls is made of."

"You mean to say that I am made of the same stuff that is used for war?" Scarf asked sadly. "Do you think that means I'm dangerous? I can't imagine myself as being dangerous."

"I don't think he meant to say you are made for war, and I highly doubt you could present any real threat to anything," said Stone. "But if you are made of the stuff, then so are we, since we're all the same."

"Oh!" Scarf's face shined like the moon. "You and I are the same? You mean -- I mean, we're the same?"

"Yes, it appears so." Stone puzzled, looking at all the pieces of the scenery around him. "The forts, the battle, even ourselves . . . all made of the same white stuff. How . . . interesting."

"That don't make sense to me." The soldier resumed his patrolling.

Stone stared thoughtfully at the sky.

"Well, wait just a minute and think about it," Scarf continued. "It does make sense. Why should any of us be here and be made differently? And why shouldn't everything else also be made of the same stuff. If it can be used for so many different things then it must be some sort of . . . omnipresent formula or solution to all our problems."

"Omni-wha?" tried the soldier, bending over one of the forts.

"Omnipresent. It means present everywhere." Stone stared distractedly at the stars. "You know, the specks of light up there seem to be weakening in brightness. There is a slight purplish hue there behind these trees."

Now it was Scarf's turn. "A hue? No idea what that could be."

"It's a color. Oh." Seeing Scarfs blank face --amazing what can still be read from a face without eyes-- he realized the impossibility of explaining color. "Well, it's as if the sky is melting from . . . small to wide, if that makes more sense."

"You're right," said the soldier. "Tha's a great way to der-scribe it."

Scarf still hadn't said anything. "What do you suppose that means, Stone?"

"Does everything have to mean something?" Stone sighed.

"Well, maybe one day when you can't see you will understand that a thing must have meaning to be seen completely."

"You think so, huh?" Stone mused. Not waiting for a response he continued, "Well I think it means the sky is changing, that's what it means."

"Well, the sky can't change and everything else stay the same," said Scarf.

"Why on earth not?" said Stone, growing tired of the triple-tiered philosophizing mound of white.

"If you say that's where the white stuff comes from, the stuff from which we are made, well if the location it comes from changes, then logically what comes from it will change, or it will cause changes. It follows. Logic."

"Logic?" asked the soldier. "Logic won't be changin' anything. Think all ya want, Scarfy boy, but it won't change nothing."

"You're right, but at least I won't be surprised when the changes come." Scarf folded his branch arms in front of him and tilted his nose to the sky.

"Except that you won't see them coming. Simply their arrival will surprise you," Stone flung his words impatiently.

"Well, if you'd be kind enough to let me know if I become endangered, I'd be much obliged." He turned away from the direction of the sound of Stone.

"Looky now," the soldier exclaimed. "The whole sky is spreadin' across wi'yella!"

The trees at the far end of the adjacent field formed clearly into view and the whole world around them came slowly into focus.

"Everything seems to be changing now," said Stone. "I can see so clearly now. Things I never saw before, never knew were around us." He waddled back to the spot he first found himself in, eager for familiarity. The soldier did the same. Scarf hadn't moved from his place.

"What did I tell you?" he turned back to face them, pleased that his faith was now supported by reality.

They were all silent as the sky lit up. The first beams of sunlight hit the distant trees and four earthy eyes watched the bright line advance toward them. As the sunlight slid down the roof of the house, Stone and the soldier stared intently.

"Does anyone else feel . . . warm?" Scarf was ignored.

"What's happening, my friends?" asked Scarf concerned. "You have been quiet so long."

"Oh, sorry Scarf." Stone turned his head a bit, but kept his eyes on the house. "There has been --uh-- a silent wind of brightness advancing steadily across the ground. Well, we also saw a strange moving box, it was yellow --I'm sorry I cannot describe that to you-- and it stopped a moment and started flashing red. After that moved out of sight is when this insensible wind really dropped down, slipping down those trees, gliding across that white field and now it is advancing down this large stronghold so close to us, but that we hadn't seen before because of the darkness--"

"Darkness?" puzzled Scarf.

"Dah." Stone really didn't feel like explaining. "Well, I guess you could say the sky around us had been very far away and now it has come much closer, now that this wind has blown in. And you do understand I am not referring to an actual wind, right? I mean that this light is the wind, and it is pushing away the darkness."

"Yes, I think I can imagine it a little. But I'm more concerned perhaps what this wind is doing to me now. Do you not feel very warm?"

"I think I does," said the soldier. "But it's prolly nothin' don't you worry."

Stone was inspecting the sunlit roof. Its border was dropping tiny, glimmering pieces of something to the ground. Already there were some large, clear spikes clinging to the edge. He felt a sort of tingle all over his body.

"Our world is getting warmer. And fast." He said suddenly. "We need to do something, or this stuff we're made of is going to start looking like that." He pointed and though both of the other two looked, only the soldier saw the icicles. The panic, however, was much more noted by the other.

"Like what? What can we do?" Scarf said. "What can I do?"

Stone turned and looked at the tall trees hanging over them, combing the sunlight and blocking the men from a direct hit. He calculated that if the line kept advancing as it was, however, that they would soon be exposed to a solid stream of melting rays. His Maple shoulders drooped.

"Nothing," he conceded. "We are going to melt. Our lives will come to an end in a few short hours."

The soldier's mouth gaped. He fingered his useless gun. "Damn," he surrendered.

"Really, there's nothing we can do? We just . . . got here. We have to leave already?"

Stone robotically resumed the exact position he had originally found himself in and braced himself for the end. It really did seem unfair somehow. Hardly figure out who you are and then realize that whoever it was is soon to be terminated, game over. He felt he had nothing more to say.

"Well, I say we at leas' try teh fight it!" said the soldier, retaliating. He picked up a prepared snow ball and threw it at Stone's head. It stuck out like a teddy bear ear on one side.

"What the--?" Stone turned to the soldier. "Are you insane? It's not my fault we're going to melt! You're not helping by throwing those useless balls at me, you idiot!" But still he also stooped down and launched a ball at the soldier. The soldier tried moving, but it struck him in his bottom rear. Bunny tail.

"See how it feels?" said Stone. "Now knock it off. Let me melt in peace."

The soldier slumped. "It's so warm," he echoed.

"It was nice knowing you boys," said Scarf with a faltering voice. The connection of his top and middle where the scarf was wound seemed especially warm. His twiggy fingers tugged at it. "I guess one nice thing about never having seen anything is that I won't miss anything. But I believe we weren't made for nothing. There will be something else, another yime. That's something I see without eyes." His voice kind of gurgled. Stone had a bad feeling about that.

A few moments of silence later, Scarf's head slowly started sliding to the side. Stone looked away and heard a hollow thud a minute later.

"Agh," the soldier cringed. "Just the scarf left." He too looked away. The first casualty.

"Nothing we can do." Stone repeated. "Nothing we can do!" he shouted it in the air as if to etch an eulogy into the sky.

* * *

After the school bus dropped Jack and Ellie off at home, they threw on their gloves and boots and charged to the back yard. Jack jumped excitedly down the stairs before he realized, then stopped short.

"Oh. Look how much they melted! Dang!"

Ellie, still on the porch balcony looked over at her melted house, too. "Oh well. It's not like you could have done anything anyway. Just wait until it snows again, make some more."

Jack was already kicking the remains of the snowy corpses with his camouflage boots and stomping down the snow forts.

Ellie shook her head and walked back inside where it was warm. "Men."



see also this link

1 comment:

Jarom X said...

As delightful as a children's story written for a grown-up can get.

At least, that's my take...

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