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Slippin’ n’ Sleddin’ by Alicia Witt

artwork by AI


Waking up on a winter Saturday morning, blinding light streams through the bedroom window. You are prepared to spend the day as you always do, playing with your sister in the basement. Your mother is sleeping after her exhausting third shift, and your father is working outside somewhere. This type of day usually forces you and your sister to create your own fun and entertainment. Instead, your Dad says that you and your sister will go out with him for the day.

At first, disbelief washes over you. He has never once wanted you around when he plans to work. Questions swirl in your head but you know by asking them it might change his mind. Obediently, you and your sister suit up, putting on three too many layers courtesy of your mother. Excitement infects both of you when you discover your day will include something out of the ordinary. The loud stomps of winter boots on your feet echo in the garage as you quickly rush to grab the sleds.

As your dad’s rumbling black truck creeps up to the end of the drive, you are taken by surprise when he turns right. You have never traveled this way before and curiosity continues to fill you. Driving past your neighbor’s house he makes a turn into a path to a random field. The sky and ground appear as the same color, forming a mysterious and endless white sheet that stretches for miles in the distance. He parks towards the bottom of the hill and everyone hops out. A pile of large fallen trees and logs lies to the far right of the hilly field. Your father tells you he needs to burn the pile, and that you and your sister can sled while he works.

Disappointment fills you but only for a moment. You had expected that he might play with you but now realize it had been naive to think so. It doesn’t make you pause for long as you sprint up the hill the best you can in several inches of thick snow. The snow coating the ground has a thin layer of ice on top creating a smooth surface perfect to sled down on. Each step you make creates a crunching sound and a deep hole in the previously undisturbed landscape.

As you reach the top you waste almost no time plopping down on your plastic sled and pushing off the ground with your feet. A thrill fills you. It simulates flying and the harsh wind whips your face while you laugh loudly with immense joy. You do this over and over again for several hours stopping only to talk to your sister occasionally.

The sky darkens, taking on an orangish tint. You lie on your stomach in the snow after one last trip down the steep hill, breathing hard. As you get up, you misplace your foot and step onto the sled. You crash forward as the sled shoots out behind you and your face impacts the iced-over snowy ground. Pain and warmth fill your nose. Blood trickles down your face and drips below onto the now blemished snow. You immediately deflate when you realize this will end your day.

Your Dad and sister make their way over to you, concern written on their faces. “Are you okay?” your sister nervously asks.

Dad pulls out his thin and worn blue handkerchief and has you hold it tight to your nose before you can respond to her question.
A muffled “yeah” escapes through the bloodied handkerchief covering your face. Just as you suspected, this causes the spell to break.

Loading up the truck while still holding your gushing nose you stare out the window, reflecting on your day. It hadn’t occurred how you first envisioned, but it had filled your heart with happiness even if it ended with you hurt. An idea comes to you inspired by your childish thoughts, your bloody nose long forgotten. “What if I tell Mom I got beat up by bad guys?” you ask excitedly.

Your Dad and sister share a glance at your ridiculous idea. “No,” he says in his stern voice. Ignoring him you jump down from the truck and hurriedly peel off your snowsuit and boots still high on the dopamine from the day. Rushing through the door you spot Mom sautéing onions on the burner. Her eyes land on your bloodied face and she immediately starts to fret. She rushes over to you examining your face with bulging eyes. You, however, have the widest grin as you say, “Mom, guess what?”

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