The snow fell gently, blanketing the world in sparkling
white beauty. Freedom, a Desert Aisha, watched it fall from the window in her
room. Her breath fogged up the glass and she rubbed it clear with one paw. Thoughts
were spinning through her head.
Each winter, she and her best friends wished
for snow almost every day. Dancer, a green Lupe, and Stella, a Starry Zafara,
lived in the houses on either side of Freedom's house, and there was no friendship
greater than theirs. Whenever it snowed, the three girls would wait in anticipation
for the neomail that would announce that neoschool was cancelled. Then they
would bundle themselves up in mismatched coats and scarves and race outside
for a day filled with sledding, snowball fights, making snowmen, baking cookies,
drinking hot cocoa, and having as much fun as possible. It was as if time stopped
on snow days. Nobody else in the world mattered to Freedom except her best friends.
Freedom cast her eyes away from the snow. Normally,
snow days made Freedom the happiest Aisha in the world, but today, Freedom only
felt a deep, sorrowful ache in her chest. She, Dancer, and Stella were still
as close as ever, but they had all changed. They worried about bad fur days
and what the cool pets were saying about them. They went shopping and gossiped.
They always wanted to be mature and scorned their past childish behavior. Going
sledding was definitely considered childish.
Freedom sighed and rose from the floor. It did
no good to simply stare at the snow all day and wish she was out there. Stella
had suggested going shopping for Christmas decorations so they could make their
rooms more festive. Freedom grabbed a couple thousand neopoints and went downstairs.
She was supposed to meet Stella and Dancer in a half hour, and she still needed
to ask her mom if she could go. When she walked into the kitchen, her mother
and three siblings were already seated at the table.
"Mommy, I want to go out in the snow now!" said
Earthwing, a green Ixi. She was younger than Freedom but loved snow just as
much as her older sister.
"Wait until Spirit has finished his breakfast.
He can't go sledding with you if he's hungry, now can he?" Navy, Freedom's mother,
said in a slightly exasperated tone.
Earthwing nodded, but the minute she saw Freedom,
excitement overrode her calm. "I want Freedom to go sledding with me, too!"
The little Ixi looked at her older sister with hope in her eyes. "Please, Free?"
Freedom rolled her eyes, making sure Earthwing
saw. "As if I would actually want to go sledding. Only little kids play in the
snow. I'm going shopping with Stella and Dancer." Freedom suddenly remembered
that she had not asked Navy if it was okay yet. "I mean, Mom, can I go shopping
with Stella and Dancer today?"
Navy ran her fingers through her long blonde
hair as she always did when she was thinking. "Why aren't you guys going sledding?
You always go out in the snow. It's been your favorite time of year since you
Freedom fought to stay calm. "Did it ever occur
to you that I could have changed?" Her mother had spoken the truth, but it was
something that Freedom did not want to hear.
Navy shrugged. "If you want to go, then you can
go. Just be back by noon. That'll give you three hours. It should be enough."
Freedom sighed inwardly. She had wanted to spend the entire day shopping, but
that would never happen if it was up to Navy.
With a slightly forced smile she said, "Okay,
I'll be home by then. 'Bye!" With that, she raced out the door, leaving her
Fire, a Fire Shoyru, sighed. "Why'd she have
to go and grow up on us? She always played in the snow. She didn't even mind
if we tagged along. I don't know what happened."
Spirit, a White Eyrie, gave his little sister
a sympathetic look. "Nothing really happened. Free's just trying to do her own
thing. There's nothing wrong with that."
Earthwing's small face narrowed with hurt. "There's
definitely something wrong with it when you're mean about it."
Navy rested a hand on Earthwing's back. "Just
go outside and enjoy yourself. Everything looks better after a snow day." The
Ixi still had sad shadows in her eyes, but she obediently shrugged on her coat
and went to grab some sleds from the storage shed in their backyard. Fire followed
her while Spirit hung back.
He looked down. "Mom, why didn't Freedom want
to go sledding with us? I mean, I should to know. I'm the next oldest after
Free so Fire and Earthwing kind of expect me to know. But… I don't know."
Navy shrugged. "I've got no clue. If your sisters
ask, just say Freedom wants some variety. Something could be going on with Stella
and Dancer, but I don't really know. Whatever it is, she'll be fine. She's not
Spirit smiled. "I wish I could have your faith
in her. I guess there isn't anything we can do about it now. Fire and Earthwing
are probably wondering where I am." The Eyrie strode out the back door, and
Navy pretended not to notice how his shoulders drooped dejectedly.
"Ohmigosh! These are so cute! I should put them
over my door," Stella said while holding up a string of blinking lights.
"Totally cool, Stell. Now check out this Twisted
Roses Santa hat!" Dancer said and twirled to show off the hat.
"Cute! What've you picked out, Free?" Stella
The Aisha shook her head and said, "Nothing.
I can't really find anything I like."
At the same time Dancer and Stella cried, "Uh!"
The Lupe continued, "Of course you can! Me and Dancer found stuff. What is up
with you today? Normally, you find all the cute stuff before we can even get
Freedom gave an unhappy smile and said, "I guess
I'm just a little distracted."
"By what?" asked Dancer.
"I don't know, Dancer. I guess…"
"What?" Stella demanded.
"Well, it's just… I feel bad about not going
sledding with my siblings. They really wanted me to," Freedom said in a very
"We agreed that sledding was for little kids.
But if you want to, go ahead. We'll stay here." Stella turned slightly as if
she didn't want to see Freedom's reaction.
"But it's only fun if you guys come." Freedom's
face was pleading.
"Look, we're not stopping you from sledding
with your siblings. Go. If you don't want to be here, then we don't want you
here," Stella said. Despite her gentle voice, her eyes were narrowed and her
"Fine. I'll go. But you know, life was a lot
more fun when we didn't have to worry about acting like little kids. For once,
I wish I was a little kid. Then we'd be out there sledding, having a good time.
Like we used to." Freedom turned and stalked away. Dancer looked from Stella
to Freedom and back to Stella. The Zafara gave her friend a hard glare, and
Dancer didn't look back at Freedom again.
Freedom ran home. Once she arrived outside her
big wooden house, she raced inside, panting from the run. She gazed out her
window at the hill next to her house. There was her family, sledding together.
Spirit and Earthwing were racing each other, Fire was going down backwards,
and Navy was hurtling down, screaming with joy, her hands thrown in the air.
Freedom thought back to that morning, and all
her heartless words came rushing back to her. She didn't want to go out there,
not after she had turned her back on them. She padded down to the kitchen and
decided to make hot cocoa. After all, it was very cold. She heated water, and
when she started pouring it into a mug, she realized that, without thinking,
she had automatically heated enough water for three mugs. One for Freedom, one
for Stella, and one for Dancer.
Tears came unbidden to Freedom's eyes. She was
crying because she had been mean to her family, because Stella and Dancer had
ditched, because she was inside and all alone on a snow day, and most importantly,
because she was still a kid and she wanted to go sledding with her best friends.
Something made Freedom look out the window. She
saw Stella and Dancer walking into their respective houses. Suddenly, something
that she couldn't understand gripped Freedom. She ran into her room, grabbed
her winter clothes, and began layering. She pulled her gloves on as she raced
down the stairs. She quickly ran outside and grabbed her favorite sled from
the storage shed. Then she ran around the hill next to her house, sled in hand.
Stella was running from her house and Dancer
from hers, each with a sled. The three girls all raced towards the hill and
collided with each other, falling over into the snow. They didn't say a word.
They didn't need to. Instead, they jumped on their sleds and flew down the hill
faster than they had ever gone before. They fell off and rolled, gathering bruises
on every part of their bodies. At the bottom of the hill, the three girls lay
on the ground and laughed until their stomachs hurt.
That day marked an important change in Freedom,
Stella, and Dancer's friendship. They didn't stop caring about bad fur days
and shopping. They still wanted to be mature. But they decided that being a
little kid every once in a while wasn't that bad.
Snow days would always be a special time for
Freedom and her best friends. Snow itself was not magical or incredibly special,
but depending on how you viewed it, snow could make a friendship magical and
For Freedom, Stella, and Dancer, snow was friends.
Snow was fun. Snow was laughter. Snow was happiness. Snow was love.