Space Fiction

Snow story

‘I miss Earth,’ I break the silence.
‘We’re off to a better place,’ he says without looking up from his screen.
‘I know, I know, but what if you could go back?’
‘I’d die of radiation poisoning.’
‘Well, not now. If you could go back in time and space?’
‘No point thinking about it.’
‘I’d like to see snow again,’ I start but he’s even more busy with his computer. I give up on trying to have a conversation.

Years ago, when we still had proper winters, Mum wrapped us in so many layers we could hardly move.
‘Don’t put the scarf over your mouth. Vapour from your breath turns into water, and then freezes to your face,’ she’s always a teacher. She applied rich cream on the little bits of our skin still sticking out from between the wool. At last we put on one-fingered gloves connected to each other by a string inside our jackets. One last quick check if the ski-trousers were tucked into the boots and off we went into the snow, whatever type happened to be out there. Big, fluffy snow flakes were falling in slow motion. I held my grandma’s hand tighter than usual to keep my balance, as I walked with my face up and tongue sticking out as far as possible.

‘Will you stop daydreaming and pass me the laser?’ I open my eyes, close my mouth and pass him the laser. He’s fixing something in the cockpit.
‘Do you think we’ll adapt?’ I look at darkness outside the window. ‘Maybe humans shouldn’t go to space.’
‘We had no choice.’
‘I know, I know, but doesn’t it scare you?’
He says nothing and untangles some wires.

The human nature pushes us to leave our mark on the universe. And what better way to do that, than by disturbing fresh snow? Using you’re entire body you could make an angel, by moving arms and legs or an eagle with arms only. I remember that urge to run across a football field under perfect, flat, untouched, white cover. I soon discovered that the field was lower than the road and I ended waste deep in the snow. I slowed me down but only a little.

‘I wander how many people made it…’
‘Nothing we can do about it now,’ he says and continues typing some numbers.

When it’s very cold (maybe below -10) the snow is more like cold, thick powder and doesn’t stick together. We used the best times to the fullest. We made snow people, and different sculptures, even attempted igloos – but got bored after couple of rows. We had snow fights in front of a school. How much snow you had in your hair (teenagers don’t wear hats) and inside your jacket or trousers, was a measuring tool of popularity. Being a snow queen came at a price of runny nose.

‘Are we there yet?’ I ask.
‘Another two years.’
‘I know. It’s a joke.’
‘Not funny.’
‘I know.’

Our sled came from a magical place called “before the war” – where you could set your watch by a train (that’s how punctual Polish rail had been) and where everything was just made better. Sure it was hard to drag it out of basement, it looked big and clumsy next to the modern ones from aluminium pipes painted red or green, but boy, they slide. All three of us sat together (we could even squeeze an adult there). With the weight and good steel skids we went faster and further than anybody.

‘Do you think it’s a bit too warm here?’
‘Ughm,’ he confirms with his mouth closed.
‘Would you mind if I open the window?’
‘Don’t try to be funny.’ He barely opens his mouth and pushes more buttons.

Ice skating was especially difficult when you were the eldest as you needed skates that would be the right size. There was a period when my sister got a pair off me and I got used ones from somewhere. They were so uncomfortable, we stuffed dish washing cloths inside to prevent blisters. However unpleasant the beginning and after match was, once on ice we couldn’t feel a thing. We went to the frozen pond early on the weekend mornings, when we were almost alone. We never learnt anything fancy, but we skated as fast as we could. When we felt tired we would fell on ice, loosing our hats in the process and lay down staring at snow covered trees.

The alarm is piercing and unexpected. He takes my hand, drags me through the smoke and pushes into an escape pod. Five minutes of spinning later we land on a frozen moon. All we can see outside is snow.
He turns to me for the first time. With a blank expression he says through his teeth. ‘Be careful what you wish…’
‘Oh, shut up.’

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