Let It Snow by Jenny Brigalow
Kaye peered at the wintry scene inside the globe. At the solitary, skeletal tree atop a bare snowbound hill. Perched on the highest branch a lone raven stared at a snowman huddled at the foot of the steep slope. He presented a strangely woebegone figure. Dressed in nought but a black top hat and red scarf, the snowman had a mouth of grey pebbles and a thin carrot nose. The tip of the carrot protruded beneath the sagging rim of the hat. One eye was visible. No more than a shallow indent in the snow.
“Hello, you,” said Kaye. But the man of snow made no reply. She knew that it was only her imagination that made his twiglet arms wave ever-so-slightly. It was super silly, but tears welled up in her eyes. “Poor man,” she said. Sillier still was the notion that he seemed even lonelier than herself.
She shook the glass and watched the storm inside. She could almost hear the shrieking of the wind and the crystalline flakes of snow battering the glass sphere. Then her breath caught in her throat and she bought the globe up close to her nose. It was crackers, but she could have sworn that the black bird had lifted off and flown away. Heart racing like hoofbeats in her chest, Kaye waited. Slowly, slowly the white haze cleared. Kaye breathed once more as she espied the corvid firmly affixed to his place.
Chilled, Kaye shifted a little to adjust the quilt that swaddled her on the stained, shabby sofa. The room was cold despite the ancient radiator that grumbled and groaned like a rheumatic beast of burden. Condensation ran down the faded wall paper and pooled on the window ledges. Kaye leant forward and rubbed a porthole on the foggy pane of glass. She let out a small sigh of pleasure as she watched soft flakes of snow glide through the sulphuric glow of the street lamp below.
“It’s snowing!” she said. “Look.” And so saying, she lifted the globe so that the snowman could see. Then she set him on the driest spot on the sill, and shuffled closer. For a long time, she sat, entranced. She tried to picture what the tiny front lawn looked like. The snow seemed thick and fast, but maybe it was melting when it hit the ground. Finally, her curiosity overcame her. She just had to know.
“Come on,” she said, and grabbed the globe. Rising, she shed the cover and hastened across the brittle lino to her wardrobe. And, as she perused the contents, Kaye was overwhelmed by an acute desire to build a snowman. She grabbed her anorak and a beanie, threw them on and thrust the globe into a pocket. Excited now, she hastened out the flat onto the landing. She bounded down the stairs, paused to thrust her feet into wellies at the front door and stepped outside.
She smiled in delight at the smooth expanse of white. It was perfect, like a freshly iced Christmas cake. For a moment Kaye hesitated, breath fogging before her. It seemed a shame to mar the virgin scene. But then her tingling fingers closed around the globe. Kaye let go her inhabitations like gas filled balloons and stepped out onto the snow.
Filled with purpose, she began packing snow feverishly into her frozen fingers. Soon the round body was formed, closely followed by a head. She paused to caste around for props. Eager for arms, Kaye headed over to the edge of the garden to the leafless poplar and took hold of a slender branch. It snapped but didn’t give. Not to be denied, she gripped harder and leaned back with all her weight. And fell.
She landed with a thud. Winded, Kaye lay and gasped, horribly aware of snow on her bare neck. Then a face materialised above her. A young man, wearing a tall black hat.
He bent down and his scarf tickled Kaye’s cheek. “I say, are you alright?” he said.
She nodded, still unable to speak.
A pair of strong hands took a hold and pulled her to her feet. Black, merry eyes laughed down at her above a long bony nose, red as Rudolph’s. “Hi, I’m Chris. I’ve just moved in.” He waved a gloved hand toward the house. “Ground floor.”
Kaye brushed snow from her collar and tried not to feel foolish. “I’m Kaye, from upstairs.”
He nodded. “Yes, I saw you earlier.” Then he looked at the snowman.
Kaye could feel her cheeks flush with embarrassment. What an idiot he must think her. “I was building a snowman.” The words seemed to sculpt themselves into the air like a sparkler trail.
He laughed. “So I see.” Then he lifted his hat and put it on the snowman’s head, closely followed by his red scarf. “That’s better!” he said. He turned to Kaye, his curly black hair flecked with white. “I don’t suppose you’d fancy a cup of coffee? I just moved here and don’t know a soul.”
He looked so adorable with snowflakes settling on his black eye lashes that Kaye’s heart melted. “Sure,” she said. As they walked back to the house, Kaye remembered her snow globe. In the light of the hallway she inspected it anxiously. To her relief it appeared undamaged. She peered inside and frowned. She twisted and turned the globe frantically. How peculiar. The snowman wasn’t there.
Chris paused, his key in the lock of his door. “Are you OK?”
She smiled. “Just a bit cold.” It wasn’t a lie.
He opened the door. “Do you like mince pies?” he called, over his shoulder.
“I do,” she said, “I love them.”
“Brilliant,” he said.
Kaye followed Chris shyly into his flat. A warmer, cosier copy of her own. And, as she watched him lift a bright red kettle off the hob, she knew, with absolute certainty, exactly where her snowman had gone. He was free. And he was right here making her a cup of coffee. Call her crazy, she didn’t care. It was going to be, a very, happy Christmas.
Art courtesy of Tess Gilligan