As a child, I hated snow. I was the only kid that didn’t love watching it fall, or tromping through it to the bus stop, or waging snowball wars. For my brothers, waking up to a layer of freshly fallen snow was like Christmas. They would suit up in long johns and snow pants and rush outside, while I sat in my room and read.
I have never been suited for life in northern Manitoba. I should have been born in Texas. I like things hot and dry. I like to see the sun, not the overwhelming canopy of gray that constantly hangs in the sky here.
This winter has been peculiar. Record high temperatures, record low snow, and I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s like a preview of what it would be like to live somewhere nice. But it’s snowing now. It started a few hours ago, and for the first time ever I’m glad of it.
As I grew up I never learned to like the snow, or the cold, but I learned that I could avoid them. I have an SUV with a remote starter, a heated garage, and I keep my house at a comfortable 30 degrees. My daughters have learned to love snow. Every day over winter break I sit in my kitchen, mug of Earl Grey in hand, and watch my girls capering in the snow, pretending to be princesses. Jessica, the oldest doesn’t do that anymore. Thirteen is too dignified an age for pretend. She likes to make igloos and snow forts. My brother Dan used to come over and play with the girls. He took a special interested in Jess, always helping her with her projects. They built cavernous snow shelters together. I thought it was good of him, and good for him. He never had any kids of his own.
Today he came over early. He and Jess were working on a big project. They were hollowing a cave out of the mound of snow that I plowed out of our driveway. Jess was planning on sleeping in it, and I was going to let Dan stay with her, for safety.
Around noon, when the other girls were napping, I took some hot chocolate out to Jess and Dan. I found Jessica backed into a corner of the cave, weeping. Her snow pants were pulled halfway down. Dan was struggling to zip up his jeans.
I know that what I did will be discovered eventually. People will question my story, wondering why Dan never mentioned a job in Ottowa. They’ll wonder why he doesn’t answer his phone. In the spring melt somebody will find him. He’ll be bloated and white, and people will come investigating. I’ll face that when it happens. For now the snow is falling heavy and wet, blizzard conditions. The news says it will continue all night, burying everything under a white blanket. For now Jessica is safe. For now I am safe, because of the snow.