Summer in Minnesota

Summer in Minnesota

Sophomore Jordan Dalton wrote this fictional short story. Enjoy!

Where I live it’s winter all year round. I’ve never seen the pink bloom of a flower, the changing colors of the leaves, red, orange, yellow, green, mingling beautifully on one tree, mixing together like rainbow syrup on a snow cone.

I’ve never even seen the sun. Well, it’s there, but even if you if looked at for hours, you still wouldn’t go blind. It’s never been bright, just a dim, flickering, fluorescent glare, always half-way hidden behind the clouds.

It’s always cold here.

Everyday it snows. Everyday at three in the afternoon, always without fail.

But I shouldn’t say always. One day in August the skies remained clear. No one noticed until three o’clock rolled around. My mother pulled us inside and we hid in the basement until morning. That’s the only only time I’ve ever seen my father cry. That day in August was the scariest day of my life.

Today’s not like that. Today it snows. 3 o’clock on the dot, and the snow rises from the ground and into the sky. My whole world enveloped in white. It only lasts for a moment, but its liberating. Such relief. No one has to cry today.

People say the snow is strange here. Mother says that’s nonsense. They say it’s different in Minnesota. They say the ground never shakes in Minnesota, and that the snow comes from the sky. I agree with mother. It’s nonsense. It has to be.

They say people eat different in Minnesota, too. Here we drink hot chocolate with supper everyday. A slice of gingerbread, a candy cane for dessert, sip after sip of Swiss Miss in red mugs.

I’m not so sure I like it here, but Mother says there’s nowhere else to go. Nonsense, I say. What about Minnesota? She doesn’t like all the talk of Minnesota, not one bit. Nonsense, nonsense, she always says. There’s no such place.

Everything is nonsense according to my mother.

Sometimes I can see things in the windows. Outside my room, beyond the forest, the sky moves. Sometimes I see fire. Sometimes I think I see people. I’ve never told my mother. I know what she would say. My brother just called me crazy, continued making snow angels in the front yard.

That’s his job, to make snow angels. Mine is to build snowmen. Over and over, I roll giant balls of snow up and down the driveway. I use the same scarf every time, red wool with green stripes. The same wooden pipe, the same top hat.

I’ve become an expert, each snowman is better than the last. I name them all. David, Tom, George, Charles. I want them to feel special. I want them to know I care. Benjamin was my favorite. I cried while I kicked him down and patted him back into the snow. I think I cried with Michael too.

My mother and father have to decorate the tree with Lacey. Every morning, they bring the boxes of ornaments up the basement and every night, they take them back down. Lacey never helps much. She’s too young. She chews on the ornaments, pricks herself with the sharp hangers, blood staining the pristine white.

Mother hurries to clean up the mess. She scoops the red snow into her hands, buries it somewhere out in the forest. Everything must remain perfect, she persists.

And everything is.

Our house is perfect. A picturesque little cabin surrounded by green spruce, all the trees gently sprinkled with just the right amount of snow. The house is decorated for the upcoming holiday; a wreath hanging on the door, stockings over the hearth, lights along the roof, twinkling, twinkling day and night.

Even we are perfect. Rosy cheeks and pale skin. Red and green sweaters, pink boots for Lacey. Atop Matthew’s head a flawless knitted beanie hat, snowflakes sewn across the back to match mother’s earrings.

I wonder if they dress like this in Minnesota.

Today my snowman’s name is Rodrigo. Mother says there’s no such name. I tell her it’s from Mexico. She asks who told me that, and I tell her Jimmy, the boy from the pond. She doesn’t remember. The one who ice skates, I say.

Now my mother’s going to have a little talk with Jimmy. “There is no such place as Mexico.” She doesn’t pronounce it right. Such nonsense, she says and walks away.

I have to change his name to Robert.

I arrange my coal lumps into a frown on Robert’s face. Matthew tries to warn me, even gets up from his snow angels, but I don’t listen. Soon my father’s there, quickly, quickly, rearranging the coal back into a smile. He slaps me. Hard. What if your mother had seen.

The next day I name my snowman Jenny. I tell mother it’s Henry. Because girls do not wear top hats, she said once, the day I created Elizabeth.

I wish it was summer. I pray, pray, pray, the snow will melt. It never does.

I pray for anything. A single ray of sun, a single red leaf will suffice.

My prayers go unanswered, like they always do.

Winter prevails.

Like an oppressive overlord who will never let go of his imprisoned people, who clenches his fists tight in a twisted ecstasy of power, winter prevails.

It’s 2:58. Matthew is looking up to the sky, Lacey too. My mother and father never look up anymore. What’s the point, they’ve been here for so long?

3:00. I’m beginning to feel that way too.

3:01. No snow. My parents finally looking to the sky in horror. They’re getting ready to run.

3:02. They’re gathering us up, we’re walking towards the house. Shh, shh. It’s okay.

3:03. The ground finally begins to shake. The snow starts rising from the ground. Each individual snowflake, slowly, slowly, into the air, some flying  higher than others.

We sigh. A collective exhale, a sharp jab of warmth into the frigid air. A giant cloud of steam. Relief.

But the ground keeps shaking, the snow keeps rising. It should have ended by now. Lacey can’t keep her balance. She falls to the ground. My mother tumbles after her.

Then there’s no more snow on the ground. It’s all drifting through the sky, collecting near the sun. The ground looks strange, hard and brown, and I smile. This is summer.

It has to be.

My mother is screaming, Matthew is crying. We’re all thrown back and forth, back and forth, an earthquake right beneath our feet.

And then it stops. And we’re up in the air. We’re floating, just hovering, a few feet from the ground. The hard earth, the summer land.

We’re falling.

Everyone’s screaming. I can hear Jimmy from the pond, the carolers, the reindeer howling, screeching, plummeting to their deaths. Me, I’m still smiling. I’m still crying. It’s summer.

I’ve probably gone mad.

That’s when I see them. I see the people. I see the fire. They’ll watching us as we descend down, down, down, down.

We shatter.

They’re yelling above us. The new light is blinding, and I have to squint my eyes to see. The sun, I think. At last. But it’s not what I imagined.

We hit the ground hard. Made of wood, speckling with every shade of brown I’ve never seen. There’s a fire burning in a great chimney, so warm it hurts.

At least it’s warm at all.

I look beside me, and I see Lacey is dead. Her neck is turned all around, bent in ways it’s not supposed to be. My mother is crying, so hysterically it’s scary. All of this is very scary. I find myself longing for home, but I suppress the feeling.

I look up and the people are still yelling, pointing to us, pointing down to the shattered glass.

You broke it, someone yells. Back away, you’ll cut yourself!

There’s water all around me, and snow, and dead reindeer. Their blood seeps into the wood until you can’t see it anymore.

My smile is fading. This is bad, very bad.

Poor Lacey is crumpled up next to me. An old piece of paper in a chubby boy’s fist. You did this, my mother screams. But I can’t respond, because I’m crying too loudly, and because I’m looking out a window, so large and so clean, and I see that it’s snowing. And the snow is falling. Falling from the sky. And there’s a ball of light so stunning I couldn’t have dreamt of anything brighter.

I’m crying now, just like my mother. It’s summer in Minnesota.

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