Thursday, December 24, 2020

Let it Snow, Chapter II



And here we go. I killed her dog. That’s why she hates me, even though it’s been decades and we’re both fully grown adults now. She just can’t let it go, in true Willow Decker style.

Of course I didn’t kill her fucking dog, I’m not a monster. But try to reason with Willow—it's impossible. I should know.

Here’s what happened.

We grew up right next door. Not only that, but our parents were — are — close. There’d never been a divide between our houses, and you could hear us running from one place to another all day long. Our moms were best friends before we were even born, getting each other through pregnancies and deployed husbands.

So we had a bond from the start. 

Of course, Will was always closer to Lily than to me, but we were still a team, with matching Halloween costumes, a tree house that still stands between our yards, secret handshakes and all.

Until the Deckers got a dog.

This will sound bad, but see, it wasn’t a normal dog, a yellow lab golden retriever mix pup with a red bow around his neck — no. Mr. Bubbles was a rescue, a mutt in the worst sense of the word, like someone tried an evil breeding experiment between a rottweiler and a helldog and the end result was…that. He was old and grumpy and showed no affection toward anyone…

Except Willow.

That damn dog slept under her bed, and growled at anyone who dared walking next to her. You could barely feed the beast, let alone play with it. He’d furiously pull at the collar when literally anyone else held his leash, like he was trying to run a fucking marathon, but whenever Will held it, the scrawny little kid—he was a fucking prince.

I see the appeal. Honestly, I do. It was like having your very own wild beast, horse girl tames the rogue stallion, and she loved every second of it. She'd  take it to school if she could, claim we just didn't know how to deal with it, like it was easy.

But Mr. Bubbles was evil. Anyone could see it. You couldn’t feed it without risking losing a couple fingers. He had no manners, no boundaries and he barked at everything and everyone. God forbid someone tried walking their own dogs near our lawn.

And above everyone else, the old mutt hated me the worst. Maybe he saw me as competition; he could smell it in me, the only other male Willow’s size, and he wanted my head for it. One day, I tried to play with Mr. Bubbles. I was, after all, really brave and trying to prove myself. I took his favorite fake bone so we could play catch, but the second I picked up the toy from the grass, he launched at me and bit my arm.

Lots of screaming and lots of blood. I got stitches. In fact, I still have the scar as a reminder.

So they had to put Mr. Bubbles down. Rest in Peace. End of story… right?

See, I didn’t kill her weird dog. It was just too dangerous around people, and children. But Will could never forgive me for — getting bitten? Almost losing my arm? It’s, after all, my fault.

And man, can she hold a grudge. She didn’t speak to me for a whole year, sending threats through Lily, and after that she just hated my guts for it. One would think that after I got two thirds of my body paralyzed, she’d see it through a different perspective, or that at the very least, she’d feel like Mr. Bubbles’ soul had been finally avenged. Like people frequently remind me, they’d rather be dead than in a wheelchair, so it’s gotta be karmic, right?

But no. Nope. Not Willow Decker.

And thank fucking god.

Sitting next to me in the car, Mr. Bubbles’ resentful soul still hovers between us. Will alternates between staring ahead and changing stations every two minutes — not even a full song. She’s trying to get a rise out of me, but we went to high school together. I’m immune.

“Have you reached your dad?” I ask, nodding at her phone.

She sighs, “I wouldn’t be here if I had.”

“He’s probably out fishing.”

She contorts her face like that’s a bad word, “My dad doesn’t fish.”

I change lanes, gently pressing the accelerator. There’s no ice on the road yet, it’s barely snowed, but I’m being careful.

“Well, when I called my dad earlier, he said that they were out fishing.”

She rolls her eyes so hard they almost pop out of their sockets. “Very helpful, Nicholas. Very helpful indeed.”

“I would’ve told you earlier if you’d been nicer to me,” I shrug.

“Well, I would’ve been nicer to you if you’d told me earlier.” Willow states, shooting me a look that’s not very convincing. In fact, not only she wouldn’t be nicer, she would also tell me to— “Just mind your own business, Parker.”

That’s better. 

I wouldn’t say it out loud, but she’s a welcome distraction right now; holidays at home are… stressful. As per usual, Mom will cry on Christmas dinner toast (cheers!), aunt Marley will pray over my head whenever I wheel by (amen!), Grandma will ask how therapy is going (great! Just not the kind of therapy you’re thinking of) and the kids will wanna ride my lap down the ramp hundreds — and I mean hundreds — of times a day, and I’ll have to face the fact that my shoulders aren’t what they used to be. Honestly, neither are the kids. They can't complain.

Sitting in a car with Willow, bickering over tiny little stuff like the radio station is actually a break. In fact, it feels just like the old days.

"It’s so nice of you to visit your parents on Easter,” She exhales deeply after a long moment of silence.

I glance over.


Willow leans over me to check the speedometer. 

“Driving like that, we’ll be lucky if we make it there by April.”

She takes too much pleasure in being her most insufferable self. It’s so funny it's almost a character. There's no way she acts like that in real life, with real people.

“Why don’t you take a nap?” I ask impatiently. “I'm sure the radio will drown out the snoring, so I won't mind it.”

“I don’t snore.” Except that I still remember all of our childhood sleepover parties. She absolutely does. She knows this, which is why she adds: “I had a deviated septum.”

“That’s what the nose job was about?”

Peaceful silence reigns. I score. 

She drops her head against the headrest and crosses her arms, looking out the window as she undoubtedly tries to think of a comeback for the next several minutes. After a while, her cue missed, I see her touching the tip of her nose with a concerned look. I’m almost compelled to admit that the only reason I know about it is because Lily told me. Watching her profile from where I’m sitting, I can say that her surgeon did a good job with it—you can’t really tell that the perfectly upturned curve is the product of thousands of dollars and a scalpel.

But I hold back that piece of information. She doesn’t need an ego boost. She’s pretty, but the worst part is that she knows it. Whenever someone compliments her, for a split second, a side grin flashes across her face like she’s pleased that someone else noticed. I told Lily about that, and about how Will thinks she’s better than everyone else, but she looked at me like I was going insane. “You just don’t like her,” she’d said.

It’s not that I don’t like her. I think she’s hilarious in an annoying, maddening kind of way. I think I like her the same way a scientist likes a bonobo— with anthropological curiosity. She’s quite the specimen.

Lily also didn’t like it when I compared her best friend to a primate.

“Hey, look-” Will points out the window, breaking the blissful silence. The radio has long turned into that background brown noise.

I don’t look immediately.  For a moment, I’m wired to think she’s going to point at a hypothetical old man riding a scooter and say that he’ll be home for Christmas and we won’t. I’m not slow—I’m just careful. Things didn’t turn out so well the last time I wasn’t. At last, I see what she’s pointing at.

“Ah, shit.” I press the break, slowing down.  

There’s a long moment of silence as we stare straight ahead. The road that leads into the town is blocked.

“This is your fault,” she says.

“Because I wheeled my ass up that mountain and knocked down snow on the road just so we could spend some awesome time together.”

“If you’d been faster…

“We’d be under all that snow. ”

“You don’t know that.” Willow sighs, pressing her crossed arms tighter against her chest. “Well, you better have made a reservation, Mr. Prepared.”

        I take it back. This is not a break. I’d rather ride Jake, my fifteen year old nephew, up a ramp any day. Every day. Rotator cuffs are replaceable—sanity isn’t.


  1. Thx Catarina ! Already obsessed with this New wonderful devo story

  2. What a delightful read! Thank you so much!

  3. Ahaha, I love these two already. If they'd been stranded under all that snow however, they might have to resort to some survival techniques...

  4. Love it! Can’t wait for the next installment!

  5. Will you please update soon;-) Thanks so much.