Sunday, December 20, 2020

Let it Snow, Chapter VI


As I push up the ramp to the Cabin, I make the mental note to slip some money to one of the kids in the neighborhood so they keep the driveway snow free while I’m here. The thought makes me feel old — not so long ago, I was the one shoveling our elderly neighbors’ driveway for a few extra dollars. Now I’m pretty sure Mr. Maguire, the literal Vietnam war veteran from down the street, could do a better job than me.

“It is what it is,” I mutter to myself, giving one final boost into the even wooden porch. My shoulder snaps with the added effort and I dutifully ignore it.

I unlock the door, feeling the pleasant seasonal scents which indicate someone was here recently, freshening and cleaning things up—mom, probably. There's even the slightest hint of Christmas decoration above the fireplace, albeit no tree. I close the door behind me and sigh. Here I am. And I can’t fucking wait to take a proper shower.

The Cabin isn’t big at all, but it’s just enough. In a post-injury project, I leaned over the drawing table and designed the entire thing like my life depended on it. Dad did most of the heavy work, bringing walls and door frames down, but I did hammer a bit—well, a lot. Turns out the hammer is a very therapeutic tool. Remodeling the cabin took my mind off of things, gave me a sense of purpose and it helped me understand myself better. Looking at it, I can see all the things I did wrong and all that I would do better now that I’ve been in this chair long enough, now that I’ve spent over a decade working with universal design projects, but I like it the way it is, you know? 

I get the coffee machine going and throw my duffel bag inside the wardrobe, when I hear a knock on the door. Mom? Or…

“C’mon!” The voice is unmistakable. “It’s freezing!”

Especially if you’ve just spent a day sitting next to her. Willow. Of course. I head to the door, taking my sweet time. 

“That quick?”

She presses her rosy lips together. This is really hard for her, and also something I anticipated. Of course I did. At one point during our trip, it became obvious to me that she’d be considering the cabin as her own refuge—and I waited to see when she’d make her move. I’d expected it in the car, and when it didn’t come, I thought it’d take her at least a day to work up the plan. So this was quicker than I’d thought. She really must be desperate.

“I’ll pay me if you let me stay,” she says in one breath, standing there.

I wonder how she carried all her luggage all the way here on those heels. In this weather. Willow is no clueless tourist here, she’s a local. She knows our winters. And yet—high heels.

“I don’t know…”

She purses her lips and looks up, like a kid about to throw a fit.

"I can't… They have sticky hands… one of them isn't even potty trained, I don't think. They were talking about pillow fights and hair braiding… I'm old!" That last statement comes almost as a plea.

“Oh, hair braiding. A capital offense.”

She raises an impatient eyebrow I'm very familiar with. “Are you letting me in or not?”

“I don’t know. It feels like you can do better than that.”

I wait. Her jaw is pressed so tight I get the impression I’ll have to open it with my bare hands. It’s torture, and she hates it, and I love it. 

Please.” She squeaks out.

Glorious silence follows. Finally, I place one hand on my wheel.

"On one condition," I raise a finger and she sighs in relief, "Truce."

"Fine. Yes. Truce. Can I come in now? I'm freezing."

"You’re just underdressed."

"Truce." She reminds me, pulling the huge suitcase behind her and pushing past me without waiting. Our caster wheels fight a short battle before she lifts the case to free it. "Remember?"



I open the closet, scanning the shelves for sheets, blankets and a pillow. The space is tight and I can't turn inside, but everything is within reach. More or less. I eye the pillow in the very top shelf of the closet.

First of all, this shelf shouldn't be here at all. It was a design mistake—or a dad mistake. At the time he installed it, he said: you never know, son. I'm still unsure if he meant me being able to stand up and reach it or me needing all the storage space I could get. Knowing how that year after coming back home went, I'd go with the first option. At the time, I shrugged and let it go, it didn't bother me.

It bothers me now. Because my mom, who comes over often to clean the place up, puts all the things she finds useless there, sometimes even things that are pretty useful, as if she forgets. She assumed one extra pillow, from the other four making up the bed, was useless—one for my head, one between my legs, one behind my back and one against my chest. That should be enough, right?

She didn't account for Willow.

I stare at the offending, green pillowcase stored up high.

I back out of the closet with only blankets on my lap and a dilemma. Ask for Willow's help or… not. I'm sure she can make herself comfortable without it. And I'm not giving up on a single one of my pillows—I might have, once, but that was yesterday. Two days in a row would break me.

I circle the bed and head to the living room. Willow is perched up on the armchair, knees on her chest and ankles crossed in front of her…

I clear my throat and she looks up from her phone.

"For you." I tap the blankets.

She frowns.

"I'm… sleeping here?"

I eye her, skeptically.

"Do you see any other room available?"

It's not like I'm hiding a guest room behind that curtain. It's a small cabin. All the appliances are visible from where she's sitting.

"Well, no, I just assumed…" she gestured broadly at the couch. "You'd let me have the bedroom.

"God, the nerve."

"It's the gentlemanly thing to do. I assumed…"

"Did you, now?"

"I thought this was a truce."

"Truce means you won't put shaving cream on my shampoo bottle."

"You mean your 4-in-one," she mumbles.

I roll my eyes, placing the blankets on the couch as a definitive answer

No pillow for her. Definitely.



The door creaks open in the middle of the night.

"Nick." The soft female voice shakes my shoulder. "Nick. Wake up."

It takes me a second to register it's Willow.


For some reason, she keeps her tone whispering and furtive, like we're kids plotting a kitchen raid in the middle of the night.

"There's someone outside."

I blink into the darkness. Whatever light is coming from the window allows me to see her hair falling over her face, with the knitted beanie.


"There's someone outside," she insists, more urgently.

I prop myself up on one elbow, shaking off the confusion.

"It's late, Will."

"I heard it." She says, "I think they're trying to break in-"

"Are you-" I reach for the lamp next to the bed, but before I can turn it on, she slaps my hand away.

"Stop it!" Willow cries, "You'll call their attention."


"As in gender neutral, and not many people. I think it's just one person." She sucks in a breath. "Come on, Parker."

I use my arms to sit up. 

She sounds insane. It's too late and too cold for someone to be outside, trying to break in. She must have had a nightmare. And yet, I pull my legs so they hang off the bed, and search the empty space next to it for my chair. I frown and squint—Will has probably kicked it away from my reach when she got closer to shake me awake. In the darkness, I can barely see it.

"My chair," I tell her, trying to keep the chip away from my voice, and moments later, she pushes it back to me. 

It's a sluggish, tired transfer, which makes me wonder what she possibly thinks I can do to whatever hypothetical invader here right now. 

"Let's go." She says once I'm on my feet—or on my ass. I follow her out of the room, keeping my ears tuned to any strange sounds. I hear… nothing at all.

"I think you had a nightmare."

Just as I say, something loud bangs on the window. Willow jumps with a high pitched sound, instinctively grabbing my shoulder and positioning herself behind me. Which is funny, because I’m shorter than she is.

"It could be a wolf,” Willow whispers loudly. “A whole pack of wolves."

“There are no wolves around here.” I roll my eyes.

"Or bears."

"It can't-"

Another bang on the window. This time, I’d jump if I could too. Will tightens her grip on my shirt until the collar is almost choking me. I grab her hand.

“Go back inside the room,” I tell her. “Close the door.”


“You want my help, don’t you?” I insist, eyes on hers.

She presses her lips. Then nods.

I release her hand from my shirt and grip my wheels, propelling forward.

I’m almost flattered that she actually stays back. I'm way more stealthy on my wheels than I'd ever be on my feet—people always startle when I arrive unannounced. I reach for one of the fireplace iron sticks and place it on my lap before going near the door. The peephole is actually to my eye level.

Outside, it's dark.

I grab the door handle. Something unexpected rushes inside me—I can't name it, but it's the extreme opposite of when I have to ask sixteen year olds to shovel my driveway, or when my mom places things away from my reach or old men hold the door open for me. I get a little excited, and I almost wish I actually had to fight a bear, or a whole pack of wolves. Right now, Willow doesn't feel much like Willow at all. My brain doesn't register her as someone I would have the wolves feed on, surprisingly enough. She's the someone I want behind that door, safe.

"Psst." Will distracts me from my weird primitive thoughts. 

I look back at her, annoyed. "Stay back."

"I don't wanna be in there by myself," she shrieks in a low voice. "What if—they try the window?"

So much for keeping her safe.

"The wolves or the bear?"


I wheel back to open the door. Cold, wintry breeze hits me right in the face. Every hair on my body stands up.

"Guess we'll see."





  1. Wow, thank you. Great chapter.

  2. Great chapter. Love it!

  3. Cannot wait !!! Please post the next chapter asap

  4. Love it!! Thank you so so much for updating! I’m in love with these two!! What a cliffhanger!!

  5. Can’t wait for the next oneeeee!

  6. Desperate for the next chapter!!! Your writing is so good!

  7. Love this story, can't wait for the next chapter

  8. I've just read all the chapters so far in one go. Don't stop here!