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GIANT SNOWFLAKES • by Mary Baader Kaley

I knew he was in trouble. Kindergartners don’t know how to control things. Frankie’s Ice Glider hit a large knot in the ground fifteen feet from the bottom of Sled Hill. His little body bounced up. His head hit the ground first and his knit hat went flying. His left side came down, and he tumbled over his feet like he was doing hand springs without his hands. He finally stopped, back-to-snow, not moving at all.

“Frankie!” I screamed. I looked back at the car. Mr. Phillip was checking the final score of the game — he didn’t see what happened. I thought about getting him for help, but we were new fosters. Not many people were willing to take in two brothers, and we were hoping for a longer placement, maybe a full year of school. Even though he and his wife didn’t have any kids, he was always telling us quiet down!… stop rough-housing!, so I thought maybe he was already getting tired of us. Maybe he took us sledding just to get us out of the house.

I rushed down the hill, half skidding, falling on my knees next to Frankie’s limp body. I sniffed the chilly wetness in my nose as I looked him over. “Frankie! You okay?” His eyes were open, looking at the sky. He had pink scrape marks on his cheek, legs open and arms straight off to his sides, but he turned his head to look at me.

“Mom’s never coming back. Is she, Robby?” His voice was quiet but strong. Turning back to the sky, he didn’t blink as the snowflakes fell to his bare forehead.

“She’s really sick.” Our code word for Mom’s drug abuse. “But you like Mr. And Mrs. Phillip, right?”

He didn’t answer. Concussion? Then I noticed that he was missing his right boot.

“Do you think if I like, stay here, I’ll get all covered in snow? Then I’d just be a bump of white.”

“I don’t know, Frankie. Maybe. But I’d miss you. We need to stick together. Y’know?” I put his hat back on his head, but when I tried to pull his boot back on his foot, he cried out. Twisted or broken, I decided; either way we needed Mr. Phillip’s help. My heart raced. I looked back up the hill.

“I don’t want to get no one in trouble, Robby. Just stay here with me.”

“Trouble? We didn’t do nothing wrong.”

“What if they don’t believe I crashed my sled? The case worker could take us away again, Robby.”

Then I realized — Frankie was scared that he had to go to the hospital, that child services might investigate the Phillips. My eyes burned and I laid down next to him, looking into the sky. I had to squint as the snowflakes reached my face. Each flake looked like it knew exactly why it existed and where it was going. I loosened my scarf and felt the snow fall on my neck. I got goose bumps and shivered.

“Do you see that giant one, Robby?” Frankie pointed over to his right. “Some of ‘em connect together, and get more and more snowflakes when they come down.”

I turned my head to look at him, and touched his shoulder. Tears were streaming down my temple. “I’m going to get Mr. Phillip. It’ll be fine. I promise.”

I found Mr. Phillip with his eyes closed but his head was bobbing to the music on the commercial. I opened the car door, and told him Frankie took a bad spill. Mr. Phillip’s eyebrows went up and his mouth opened then closed again. I was relieved he wasn’t angry. You never know with adults. He started to get up, but I held up my hands.

“It’s his ankle. Hurts too much to get the boot back on. It’d be better if you call an ambulance and have them come here, to see how he fell.”

“What?”

“Y’know, better so that they know how he got hurt.” I looked down at my boots, tapping the snow underneath into slush. “The state pays for all the medical stuff.” He nodded, took out his cell phone and dialed.

We waited for the ambulance down by Frankie. Mr. Phillip thought the ankle looked broken, but said everything would be okay. Then he came up with this idea to catch the snowflakes in our mouths. I said that no two were alike. Mr. Phillip showed us how to make the perfect snowball, and even made a few for Frankie to throw at us. Mr. Phillip took one in the stomach, cranked his arms all around, and did an expert stunt-man fall. We were laughing so hard we didn’t even notice the ambulance had arrived until the rescue guys were all the way down the hill.


Mary Baader Kaley has an M.A. in Counseling, and enjoys writing short fiction and poetry of various genres. Her work can be found in Salome Magaine, The Shine Journal, and in an upcoming issue of Stymie Magazine and Powder Burn Flash.

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GIANT SNOWFLAKES • by Mary Baader Kaley, 3.8 out of 5 based on 56 ratings
Posted on December 23, 2009 in Inspirational, Stories
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  • Linda G

    You surprised me with the happy ending. I’m glad there was a happy ending and Mr. Philip didn’t disappoint me or the boys. Thanks.

  • Oscar Windsor-Smith

    A truly wonderful piece of short fiction. You show us all we need to know about three characters, their back-stories, and their complex relationships, all in so few words. You toyed with my anticipation and emotions in just the right amounts. The happy ending was a bonus… and never a trace of schmaltz. Brilliant. Merry Christmas, Mary.

    :) scar

  • http://www.pamparker.wordpress.com Pam

    Such a lovely glimpse of the kids’ relationship and their troubled lives, all captured in a fall from a sled on a snowy day. Well done! Thank you.

  • http://rumjhumkbiswas.wordpress.com Rumjhum Biswas

    “Then I noticed that his he was missing his right boot” -para six, think there’s a typo here?

    Lovely story and I am glad Mr. Phillip was a nice guy after all. :)

  • http://patriciahale.blogspot.com Patricia J Hale

    suspenseful and charming.

  • http://teenangel.netfirms.com Jim Hartley

    Very nice, especially for the Christmas season. Five snowflakes.

  • http://debiblood.wordpress.com Debi Blood

    This has such a pleasant ending; so, why did it make me cry? Maybe because you painted in the unhappy world of frightened children with such a masterful touch? Yes, I’m sure that’s it.

    Brava! Touching, poignant and wrenching. I love it.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    A lovely Christmas week story :)

  • Jeanne Holtzman

    Wonderful, memorable story Mary. Poignant in the best way.

  • Shelle

    Wow, that could have been horrifying and it ended up so sweetly!

    Great Story!

  • Douglas Campbell

    Great work, Mary! A story that seems so sad, then ends with just the right touch of redemption. Beautiful!

  • Sharon

    Mary, thank you for the privilege of reading this exquisite story.

  • http://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/ Tyrean

    Thank you so much for this wonderful story. You packed in action, suspense, real life pain and real life promise. I wish I could write a story like that . . . definitely five stars from me.

  • http://www.theprodigalscribe.com Mickey

    To capture their life through the eyes of the boys in such a poignant manner was a brilliant piece of writing. BRAVO!

  • J.C. Towler

    Nothing to add but another thumbs up.

    –John

  • http://bookspot.blogspot.com Camille Gooderham Campbell

    Typo corrected; thanks, Rumjhum!

  • Cynthia L.

    Quiet story of how resilient children are.
    Thanks, Mary.

  • http://linda-leftbrainwrite.blogspot.com Linda

    Good conquers all. Thanks for a heart-warming story told so well.

  • Autumn

    Excellent story, Mary, enjoyed it all the way through!

  • Louise Michelle

    What a charming story! Perfect happy ending for the holidays.

  • Jen

    Nice story! I love that Mr Phillip ended up being a good gauy who helped the boys. He definitly made what could of been a bad day into a fun and memorable one, and that’s really hard to do. Something tells me the boys [brothers?] don’t need to worry about looking for a home any longer.

  • Lisa C.

    I liked the story here, and was glad to see a (rare) happy ending.

    That said, there were places where the execution was weak. There’s no indication of the narrator’s identity until the fourth paragraph. Except for “we were new fosters” (which could be taken in different ways), the narrator could easily have been an adult. For some reason I assumed it was the mom, so the second paragraph really lost me. Once I figured it out, I went back to re-read. Good news is that this is an easy fix.

    I also have a really hard time believing that a 5-year old goes through a crash like that with possible broken bones and isn’t screaming his head off. Instead he asks about his mom.

  • Margie

    #22 hasn’t been around very many “Wise-beyond their-years little Men” not to understand how a child so very young has lost the ability to cry. Children who go through so much in their young lives become almost adult-like in their tiny, childrens bodies. A precious 5 star story! Merry Christmas!

  • http://www.delenemartin.com Dee

    As a mom my first thought was get the adult! Get help! Their perspective was such that the physical injury was secondary to the possible consequences. Great portrayal of that.

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