March 5, 2017

Flash Fiction by Sherry Howard: "When the Snow Stopped"

I live with my children and crazy dogs in Middletown, Kentucky, a stone's throw from the beautiful horse farms Kentucky is always bragging about. During my career in education, I served as middle school principal in one of the largest school districts in the US; I share many skills with cat-herders. I love to read, write, cook, and sit in the sand watching the waves when I can. My poems and stories have appeared in several journals and anthologies.

When the Snow Stopped

We danced and laughed and hugged when the snow finally stopped falling.

Day one had pelted us with ice only, terrifying in its quantity. Day two had rendered more ice, measuring an inch thick to our amateur eyes.

On the third day, snow began to fall, beautiful for the sheer fact that it wasn't more ice. Snug inside our cozy warmth we admired the beauty, and blinked at the cancellations constantly streaming across the television screen.

Days four, five, and six revealed our crankiness without electronics to pacify us after the cable service iced out. We didn't need a television to inform us that our entire city was cancelled, ill-prepared for the magnitude of this storm.  

At one a.m. on the seventh day, terror struck in the form of ice popping and falling from the roof in chunks, usually carrying parts of the roof with it. For the next few days, eight through ten, we trembled around the clock as we heard the tremendous crackling that always preceded the crashing of something unidentifiable, yet huge.

By day eleven, our lovely trees, weighed down by white coats, no longer stood tall and proud. The thick coverings of ice burdened the branches until even the trunks gave up the fight. On day twelve, we lost electricity. Widowed grandmother and child, we smiled bravely for each other but stayed always together near our sparse fireplace. Our ancient quilts cradled us in comfort and warmth. We ate crackers until they were gone, dined reluctantly on pickles and raw potatoes, and fed our souls with long stories.

We hadn't spoken to another human being for three days by day fifteen. Every pop or crackle we heard during those days foretold doom. Surely this galactic joke would end soon with a knock at our door telling us to come warm up at a neighbor’s house.

On day sixteen, with no sleep for our measure of night and day, and no clocks, phones or timepieces to orient us, we recognized a noon sun grazing Hunter’s cheeks through the window. The snow had finally stopped, leaving behind inches of ice covered by feet of snow, breathtakingly unblemished and glittering in the welcome sunlight. We danced and laughed and hugged.

An engine’s roar shattered the silence that enveloped us. We raced to the window, doubting the news our ears delivered. A huge truck had pulled onto our little court, beckoned by my purple apron flying from our porch rail. Lights flashed red across the snowy landscape, and sirens sounded. With rescue in sight, quivers shook my body, and I held back sobs. We laughed and hugged our bearded rescuer, unashamed at our relief.

© Sherry Howard

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