Monday, November 15, 2010

Snow, Baby

Winter in Wentzville, 1990-91

It's been a while since I've thought about this story or the young couple who first tended the soil for it to begin establishing roots in my imagination while I was still in high school. I wrote its original version almost a year ago and submitted it to some contest I don't remember the name of, but that's not what makes it important to me. It didn't win, by the way. The young couple it depicts is actually a composite sketch of several young--sometimes older--couples I've had the pleasure of meeting whenever my life has collided with the church, and I'm not talking about the building. They all became stakeholders in my investment as a wife and mother because they all shared a common passion. It was evident in the way they interacted with my family and in the way they lived: day-to-day, simply, with integrity. Whatever it is, this passion, it has managed to stick, even when we, as a family, feel like we're coming unglued. I wonder if anyone really understands what that word, "passion," means anymore. If you've ever witnessed a passion play or looked up the meaning of the word in Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary, there's a good chance you will figure out where this story is headed.

Snow, Baby
            She sprinkles the cookies with colored sugar, covering the icing with stained-glass windows. It won’t be long now. I’ve got to get this on before the icing sets all the way or it won’t stick. She hears giggling in the dining room and smiles. They’ve only been here two months, and already five more children have joined the youth group. The new kids’ parents have even started attending services.
            “Hey, in there! Are you done yet?” She hears Bert’s tone edging toward frantic. With teenagers he’s great, but seven kids under the age of twelve? What will he do if they ever have a big family of their own? Better not go there now. She wipes a tear away with the back of her hand. Her period is late. She should say something, but three miscarriages in five years of marriage justify the silence. If he brings it up, then fine.
            “I’m almost done. Give me five minutes and then a drum roll if you please.” The kids have been playing in the fresh-fallen snow, eight inches overnight on top of eighteen inches already on the ground. Now they’re making snow cones with Bert. She shakes her head at the puddles of mittens, coats, and slush snaking through the kitchen to the dining room door. Snow? Did she agree to that and this latest move to North Dakota?
She met Bert at bible college in Pensacola. He was a senior, and she had just begun her second semester. They bumped into each other on the indoor ice rink and fell down together, tangling arms, legs, and skates. She told her roommates later that evening it was Love at First Slide. He must have apologized fifty times in five minutes and then bought her some hot chocolate. Yikes! She sees the milk on the stove starting to boil and dashes over to turn down the heat. Her foot starts to slide just as Bert enters the room behind her.
“Whoa, there, girl!” Bert bridges the few feet between them in a split second with a home-run fervor, cushioning her fall to the linoleum. “Got to you just in time again, I see.” She reaches around and throws her arms around his neck, sobbing into his shirt collar. “Shhh! You’re okay. What’s the matter, baby?” She looks up to see the kids standing around them.
“Nothing. I, uh, I don’t know. I’m all right. Let’s get that cocoa done and have some cookies. Right, kids?”

Later tonight, I’ll tell him. As she stands up, she feels a twinge. No! She puts on a smile. “Shoo, all of you. I’m fine. I’ll bring the cookies in as soon as I get this hot chocolate made. Your parents will be here to pick you up before you know it.” She steadies herself against the stove and starts to hum. "My hope is built on nothing less..." Yes, that’s it. Calm down. Everything’s going to be just fine. This one’s going to stick like North Dakota snow on a Northwest Florida transplant.