December 5, 2019

SNOW SISTER by Fran Laniado

One winter morning, my parents
went outside and made a snow child
who came to life...
I was born two years after my parents made my snow sister.

They didn’t think they could have children. They’d been trying for years to conceive, with no luck. So, one winter morning they went outside and made a snow child

I’ve tried to imagine that part. Did one of them wake up and say to the other “Let’s make a snow child today”? Or was it more accidental? Did they go outside to clear the walkway, and start playing around, and end up making a child out of snow?

I find that easier to imagine somehow. I can’t imagine my parents shaping snow in some mystical quest to make a child in any way possible. But I can picture them being silly and playful. I can imagine their shock when she came to life. When she walked into the house and sat quietly at their feet, expecting to be cared for.  I imagine my father and mother glancing at one another in stunned silence, wondering “how did this happen?”

To give credit where it’s due, they never shirked their responsibility. They made her a bed in the freezer when she was a baby. They lined it with cushions so that she would be comfortable.  When she grew, they got an industrial size freezer to accommodate her. She never melted, because they were too careful. If it got too warm in the house, my mother or father would order her straight into the freezer, with a stern look and a finger pointed in that direction, in a no-nonsense voice that she didn’t dare disobey.

They continued to love and care for her after I was born (in the more traditional manner) two years later. Maybe they’d managed to conceive because they weren’t trying so hard. I’ve heard of that happening sometimes.  I had a normal bed, but other than that they made no distinction between my snow sister and myself.

My snow sister can’t speak, but she has a personality. She’s playful and friendly and affectionate. When I was a baby she would sit and make my toys dance, entertaining me for hours. When I laughed she’d clap her icy hands with glee.  She’s kind and compassionate. She’ll take you in her frozen arms, and care for you when you’re sad.

She can’t go to school because we can’t expect them to keep it cold enough for her there. At home she has her freezer where she could go if it got too warm for any reason. But at school there is too much that can go wrong. Because she can’t speak, the teachers would need to be responsible for noticing if it got too warm or if she started to melt. According to my father, that isn’t their job and it’s unfair to expect it of them. It’s also too risky. What if they were distracted one day? What if they didn’t notice? So, mother teaches her at home.

I went to school though. When I came home, I would tell my snow sister all about it. She listened intently, she body perched at the edge of the sofa, dampening the fabric, as she listened. When I told her something funny, she’d shake, her icy body creaking as she vibrated with silent laughter. It was the closest that she ever came to speech.

I treasured these times. Sometimes I spent the day looking for something funny. Something to make my sister laugh when I got home. But one day I couldn’t be bothered to think of anything funny. A classmate had teased me, because my sister was a “Popsicle.” I went home in tears that day.

I didn’t think of what I’d tell my sister until I walked in the front door and saw her there waiting for me. I couldn’t tell her the truth, so I desperately tried to think of something to make her laugh.

The effort was all it too to bring the sobs back full force. I sat beside my sister and sobbed. She brought a comforting arm around my shoulders. I imagined her, sympathetically saying “there, there.” I leaned against her, my cheek growing numb next to her frozen skin.

I stayed; my head rested on her frozen shoulder for a long time. Until I began to shiver, and she to melt. Then we pulled apart as always and retreated. She to her freezer, while I warmed myself with sweaters and hot beverages, as we always did. Because too much affection would be fatal to us both. 
Fran Laniado has published short fiction in a number of publications including Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Synchronized Chaos and New Works Review. In 2018, she published her first novel, Beautiful: A Tale of Beauties and Beasts. You can find out more about Fran and her work at:
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Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I really like this story. Good job.