Posts : 834
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 45
|Subject: Snowflakes Fri Dec 25, 2015 9:03 pm|| |
“Jed, you out here?”
Hannibal Heyes gazed in all directions across the glistening landscape for some sign of his younger cousin. It was not like Jed to miss lunch, or any meal for that matter, before or since becoming settled in this new place. With snow falling, the older boy tried not to worry.
Still, no reply. Han frowned. He walked from one side of the grounds to the other, ears attuned for the bell. The crunch underfoot of occasional ice pellets drowned out the already muffled sounds of other boys at play on the other side of the grey building. The home encouraged exercise in all weather, better to build strong, well-adjusted young men; thus, the long recess after lunch.
The carriage house once more came into view. This time it caught Han’s attention. Why had it not occurred to him sooner? Jed had stolen away to that secret place several times these last few months: a private refuge in an unfamiliar, crowded place. Approaching the building, Han peered around one corner. There, he glimpsed the familiar mop of golden curls. Sneaking up on the little alcove set in the stone foundation near the back door, large enough only for a child about Jed’s size, Han stopped a little distance away, mesmerized. There was Jed, on his knees in the niche with face extended skyward, catching snowflakes on his tongue, his blue eyes wide with wonderment.
The fat snowflakes fell straight in the stillness of the noontime. Crawling out of the recess, Jed stood. Reaching out a hand, he watched a large flake fall on his mitten and examined it. Repeating the action, he soon had both mittened hands in front of him.
Quite taken with his cousin’s simple joys but not wanting to disturb the child-like reverie, Han reached out his own hand. Indeed, the snowflakes drifted to rest, their singular shapes observable only a moment before they melted into wet. How beautiful, but sad in a way. Who had told him beauty was fleeting? But there was another, prettier than the last. It was easy to lose oneself thus, in the quiet and solitude of snow. Icicles had yet to form but probably would by morning – more wonders to behold, at least until the boys broke them off.
Entranced as he was, Han barely heard the bell. Lessons would resume in five minutes.
Han strode the short distance to his cousin’s side. “What’re ya doing, Jed?”
The younger boy’s face lit up. “Hi, Han! Just catchin’ snowflakes.”
The older boy smiled. “That’s fun. But you missed lunch.”
“I wanted to taste snowflakes here to see if they tasted the same as back home.”
Han’s grin faded for a moment, but he could not resist Jed’s curiosity. “Did they?”
“Uh huh. They’re all cold.”
“Just cold?” The twinkle returned to the brown eyes.
“Yeah, just cold. Thought they’d taste different.”
“Not sure, just different,” Jed said.
Han understood they had both lost some innocence, so inwardly reveled they had found it again. “I’m glad you’re having a good time with the snow, Jed, but lessons are starting.”
“Aw, do we have to go back so soon?”
“’Fraid so. We can come back out after school.”
“But it’s gettin’ dark so early now, there won’t be much light left,” Jed moaned.
“Tell ya what … We’ll come out later and play like we used to – maybe even a snowball fight.”
“That sounds like fun, Han. You promise?”
“I promise.” Then, motioning slightly with his head in the direction of the school, Han urged, “Come on, we have to get back.”
The pair turned and started the trek.
“Do ya think there’ll be enough snow to build a snowman?”
Han gazed fondly at the younger boy, almost a head shorter than himself. “I don’t know. But this is the right kind of snow for it, all wet and all, so maybe.”
“Like the kind we used to build?”
“How do ya mean?”
“Oh, this high, and this wide.” Jed stopped in his tracks, his arms gesturing above his head and stretching their full reach to either side.
Han shared the younger boy’s mirth. “I don’t remember them being that big, but …” He blanked.
“But what, Han?”
“Huh? Oh … um …” Han grabbed Jed urgently by the arm. “We gotta hurry or we’re gonna be late.”
“Han, is everything okay?”
Brown eyes slowly moved from their gaze off in the distance to meet the blues peering across the camp fire. “Hmm?”
“You okay? You're a little too quiet for comfort.”
Hannibal Heyes shifted from his lounging position to reach for the coffee pot. “I’m fine.” He shivered. “But sure is cold in here.”
“Yup, but coffee’s hot. Fresh pot.”
Heyes stretched. “Is it?”
Jed “Kid” Curry smirked. “I just made it. You were right here.”
“Must’ve been thinkin’ …”
Heyes’ tone was pensive. “Yeah, I guess you could call it that.” He filled his cup and Kid’s before lounging back against the saddle.
“A penny for your thoughts?”
Heyes arched an eyebrow. “Price hasn’t gone up since we were kids, has it?”
“No, I guess not.” Kid paused.
The dark-haired man glanced at the cave entrance before turning back to his partner. “Just thinking about that first winter at the home – that first snowfall.”
The flickering shadows of the camp fire on the cave walls caught Curry’s attention, transporting him briefly to the past. He grinned. “Oh yeah. We built a snowman.”
Heyes reminisced. “Yup. It wasn’t as big as we used to build back home but was still fun, even if there wasn’t a carrot for a nose or hat, scarf, or mittens for him.”
“I forgot about that. But it’s nice bein’ reminded.”
“Yeah, it is.”
Both men quieted into companionable silence for a time. Thoughts wandered to a simpler time past. Life had gotten complicated.
Finally, a gust of wind reached into the cave, almost dousing the fire. Both men shivered.
Curry smirked. “Let’s get movin’ south as soon as this storm lets up and travelin’s good.”
Heyes’ eyes twinkled. “Now, that’s a good deal.” He paused. “Sounds like the wind’s died down.”
The pair rose and strolled to the opening to behold a breathtaking landscape shrouded in white. A few green fir branches peaked out beneath the snow weighing them down, the entire scene glistening in the illumination of the brightening day. The wind now but a whisper, the few flurries fell straight.
Kid reached out a gloved hand. He grinned, the blue eyes wide. "Heyes, I don’t like cold weather but never get tired of lookin’ at snowflakes.”
Heyes sighed contentedly. “I know, Kid. I know.”
Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp