A Snip Snip Snippy short story set the winter before the main character moved away.
Tangentially Relevant Music Recommendation
You woke with a start. Rubbing your eyes, you tried to pull through the haze of waking to find out why.
Squinting, you realize there's snow over your window, across from the foot of your bed. It would appear somebody threw it on. ... Albeit a bit thick. Maybe multiple times?
A dark green mitten pokes through the snow. You sit up and watch it, rapt.
It carves out a heart-shaped hole.
Through the hole, you see Cherry smiling to herself. When she makes eye contact with you, her eyes widen and her mouth falls agape.
She quickly smears away the heart and runs off.
You stretch your arms over your head before getting up.
Quietly, you tiptoe down the hall. Which spots creak and which spots don't has already become muscle memory.
You pause outside your parents' room.
The deep bassy snore of your mother, and the nasally snore of your father.
With an exhale, you make your way over to the door and put on your boots.
Once all bundled up, you open the door to find Elby already approaching. She smiles and waves.
You close the door behind you. "What's got you out of bed this early?"
She shoved her hands in her pockets and grinned. "Wanted to make sure you knew it was a snow day."
"This early in the morning? They don't even announce it this early."
"Yeah, well, look at all this!" She sweeped her arms out at the snow, already piled a good height and only getting higher. "No way are the snow plows gonna be able to salvage this."
"I mean, I guess..." You shake your head. "Whatever. Have you seen Cherry around anywhere?"
"Uhhhhh... secret. Secret stuff."
She tilts her head. "I mean- her mom's probably gonna make her spend all day studying..."
Elby jumps with a start and spins around. "Cherry!"
Cherry waves as she walks up to the both of you. "Sup."
Awfully cool demeanor for somebody in such a puffy snowsuit. She's just a beak away from being a penguin.
You cock your head and smile. "Didn't give Bev a chance to shove your nose in a SAT... prep... thing?"
Her cheeks somehow got redder than the cold had already made them. "Are you not gonna let me live that down?"
"Not any time soon, no."
She huffed and crossed her arms. "Well- whatever. It's almost winter break, anyway. Not like there's much to make me study about."
Elby clapped. "That's great!" She rubbed her hands together. "I've got something for youuuu..."
Cherry raised an eyebrow. "... Yeah?"
Elby wrapped an arm around her shoulders from the side. "Y'know how you said you've never been sledding before?"
You go to Cherry's other side and pat her on the back. "Hey, yeah, I remember that. Thought your dad would've been more on the ball about that."
Cherry rolls her eyes. "Yeah, well, my fucking mom... I... you know how she is."
Elby winced and nodded. "Well, hey- she's not here to stop you now, is she?"
"That doesn't mean I-"
You wrap your arm around her middle. "C'mon, you'll be fine. Look, I'll even ride the sled with you. You can hold onto me."
You could swear her eyes damn near bulged out of her head.
"You're evil and I hate you."
"No idea what you're talking about. You in or not?"
Elby clasped her hands together and took a big step back. "Well, I'm not touching whatever that was! Let's just go to the sled!"
You raise an eyebrow at Elby while Cherry quietly slips out of your embrace and takes several side-steps away. "Wait. Go to?"
"Well, yeah! I had to find the best hill while I waited for you two to wake up!"
Cherry's eyebrows flew up. "You woke up before us?"
Her smile faltered. "... Why're you guys so surprised?"
Cherry glanced at you.
You subtly shook your head.
Elby turned away and took a deep breath. "Okay, never mind. C'mon, follow me."
You follow along with idle chit-chat until Elby swings her arms out to her sides, blocking you and Cherry. She spins around and gestures ahead. "Well, here it is!"
Cherry plants her hands on her hips. "Piddly as shit, Elby."
You laugh and shake your head. "Yeah, I thought you didn't expect Cherry to show up?"
Elby crossed her arms. "Hey, I'd like to see you find a bigger hill within walking distance!"
"Elby, I have a car."
You hear cussing coming from the road behind you.
"... Alright, okay..."
"Besides, you don't need a newbie around to wanna sled a smaller hill sometimes."
Cherry huffed. "Baby shit."
"Cherry, you didn't even wanna do this 'til I said you could hold me during."
She quietly picked up some snow and started approaching.
"Hey, hey, hey-"
Before you could run away, Cherry grabbed the back of your coat and dumped the snow down.
Cherry blew a raspberry at you.
Elby's eyebrows raised ever so slightly. "... Oh!"
She turned to look at her instead. "'Oh' what?"
Cherry opened and closed her mouth several times, the rest of her face going between different levels of alarm. Finally, she settled on pursing her lips and trudging over to the sled laying nearby. She dusted the fresher snow off and stomped up the hill.
You hurriedly shook out the rest of the snow you could manage before jogging over to her. "Hey, wait up!"
She scoffed and smirked up at you. "What, so you get to say you-?"
In an instant, her expression went completely soft.
"I do just genuinely want to sled with you, y'know."
Her breath caught in her throat. Looking at the ground, she shoved the sled into your hands before stomping the rest of the way up the hill. When you meet her at the top, she crosses her arms and gestures for you to go ahead.
"Show me how to sled, man."
"It's- y'know, it's not very complicated-"
"Why the fuck is it at the Olympics, then?"
"You think I know fuckall about the Olympics?" You set the sled on the ground, close-ish to the edge. "Look, just... sit."
She sits down right where she was standing.
"The sled, Cherry."
She stuck her tongue out at you as she scooted over to the sled, catching multiple snowflakes in the process.
"Scooch up a bit," you muttered, poking her lower back with your boot. After she complies, you sit behind her, grabbing onto the edges. "Grab onto that string. I'll push us off when you're ready."
"... Okay." She grabs it. Then she awkwardly sits there in completely silence for a couple moments. "... You can go now, you know."
"Sorry I'm a good friend and wanted to wait for express permission?"
"Shut your fucking- gah!"
Before she could continue, you'd pushed forward.
But, well, in her surprise, Cherry leaned to the side. Hard. And, despite your considerable height advantage, she's got you beat in weight; you both quickly fall in the snow with a fwumf. Elby covers her mouth.
You propped yourself up on your elbow, wiping snow off the side of your face. "Jesus-" You leaned forward, trying to peer at Cherry's front. "Are you-?"
Giggling, Cherry kicked the sled away and rolled onto her back. "Ohhh, man. No way am I topping that." Looking up at you, she propped herself up on her own elbows as well. "Look at you. You're gonna get brain freeze."
"... Aren't you gonna be a doctor?"
"Not if I have anything to say about it." She sat up and called downhill, "Hey, Elby!"
Elby did not respond.
"Wha?" She looked up and shook her head. "What's up?"
"You wanna go get hot chocolate? My dad should be up by now."
Her eyes gleamed.
Just short of her driveway, Cherry stopped. "Hey, guys?"
You turned to face her as you and Elby stopped as well. "What's up?"
Cherry fiddled with the drawstrings on the hood of her snowsuit. "... You wanna see something cool?"
Giddy, she loosened her hood and pulled it down, finally letting her hair loose. It was the usual short bob of the time, with the bangs tied up as she had often preferred- save for one difference. Sticking out like a sore thumb from her natural red hair, her bangs were now a perfectly radioactive green.
Elby clapped her hands with glee, hopping up and down. "Ohhh, Cherry, you are a cherry!"
You blinked. "That is... that fuckin' rules." You glanced around, as if there was even anything you could be looking for. "Are you, uh... not worried about...?"
She grinned. "My dad brought me to do this." She tapped a finger over her mouth. "This is an argument I can win." She shrugged. "I mean, hell, I don't even have to participate."
Both you and Elby release held breaths of varying sizes.
Cherry creases her eyebrows together and smiles. Glancing away, she turns to wave at the front window of her house. Following her gaze, you see Klarl waving back at her.
He looks proud.
She scampers over to the front door. "You two can go ahead and sit on the porch while we deal with the hot choco!"
Elby immediately bolted to the more comfortable of the chairs under the awning. "Sounds gooood~!"
You smile and shake your head. "Aw, c'mon. Which one of us just ate shit in the snow?"
She curled up in the chair. "Which one of us let the other borrow her sled to eat shit on?"
"Damn- alright." You accept the marginally less comfortable chair adjacent to her.
After a moment, the front door creaks open. A little too soon to be the promised hot chocolate.
Bevelyne steps out- frankly, looking like shit. Not at all how she looked the rare occasions Cherry brought you along to church a long, long time ago, not significantly less early in the day than this.
Elby nervously glances over to her. "What, uh... what-"
"Don't--" Bevelyne holds up a finger. She inhales deeply, running her other hand through her bangs. Slouching slightly, she exhales. "I didn't come out here to talk. I just... need some fresh air."
"Oh! Okay, that- that's fine! I get needing a, uhm- a fresh of air!" Elby clamps her mouth shut. "I'll... leave you alone."
She squints before turning away. Hands on the railing, Bevelyne looked out at the snowy street. She takes another moment to breathe in silence. "... You kids don't have school today." She scoffed. "I mean, it looks like you three went ahead and assumed that before the school board could even wake up."
"Yeah, uh, I... sorry."
"Don't be." She glanced over her shoulder. "All this weather's good for is play, anyway."
Elby glances over to you. All you can offer her is a shrug.
Bevelyne takes another deep breath, billowing through the cold air like smoke. She straightened out her posture and turned back towards the door. Before she left, she glanced the both of you over. Her eyes drifted towards both your pairs of hands, both bare against the cold. She huffed. "You two are alike in the strangest ways."
"Uhm- oh. Oh, she's just leaving. ... Okay."
You shook your head as she closed the door.
Not long after, Cherry comes back out with two mugs- one piled high with whipped cream. "Hi! Sorry about that. Did-?" Cherry glanced behind her and lowered her voice. "Did she, uh... say anything mean?"
You take the cream-free mug and set it down next to you. "Weirdly enough, no."
Elby took the other mug and licked at the whipped cream. "Yeah, just... cryptic. Really cryptic."
Cherry hummed. "She's... been doing that more."
Klarl nudged the door open a little wider. "I think she's been reading the ingredient lists on those lil snack cakes."
She snorted as she took a third mug from him. "C'mon, they're not that bad."
"Ohhh, you'll stop thinking that once your metabolism starts slowin' down." He grabbed the door handle and waved to you and Elby. "You lil punks enjoy your choco, alright?"
Elby waved as he closed the door. "We will!" She sighed contently as she rubbed her hands on the warm ceramic.
"God, Cherry, your dad's hot."
"If this choco weren't so good, I would be dumping it into your lap right now."