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Tami C Ryan

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By Tami C Ryan
Monday, January 15, 2007

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Written for a challenge a few years ago.


I heard him stomping the snow off of his boots just nanoseconds before I heard his cursing voice. The previous night’s weather report had announced flurries, but the winter storm had veered north and dumped several feet of the fluffy stuff during the night. From what I could hear over the whistling teakettle in the kitchen, Daddy’s car had gotten stuck midway up Denton’s hill. He had to walk the rest of the way home and, as a result, Daddy sure was giving everybody an earful this morning.

Mom hurried into the kitchen and took the teakettle off the stove, pouring Daddy a cup of steaming brew. “C’mon now, Hank… settle down. There’s not much you can do about the car right now, so you might as well warm yourself with a cup of tea. Besides, breakfast is ready.”

Mom doled out the bacon and eggs, calling to Joey, who was still dawdling upstairs. “Are you coming down here to eat, young man? For heaven’s sake, you’re going to be late for your own funeral!”

After breakfast, Daddy continued to grumble about the unexpected snow and was adamant about staying home by the fire. Mom helped Joey and I don our winter garb, covering every conceivable part of our bodies. Once she was satisfied that we were wrapped warmly enough, we headed out the door to Mr. Miller’s market as we did every Saturday morning.

Tall maples lined the street, and I swear I could see the bare branches shivering beneath their layered scarves of ice. The streets were deserted save the snowplow that had just passed. Joey stepped out onto the road and was attempting arabesques as though he were in an Olympic ice skating competition. I thought he looked silly. As for me, I was having enough trouble just walking; the snow on the sidewalks was nearly to my knees and covered with a slick blanket of ice. With each step I took, I plunged downward into the cold quicksand with a noticeable shoomp… shoomp… shoomp…

The market basket slipped out of Mom’s hand in a moment of inattention and, as she stooped to retrieve it, she let go of mine. Joey and I were busy chattering like a couple of squirrels when I noticed him, and I stopped dead in my tracks. There, huddled against the building, was a man wearing nothing more than a lightweight jacket over his denim shirt. Judging by the appearance of the whiskers on his face, I could tell he’d been out in the cold for quite a while.

“Hey, Mister… sure is cold out here,” I called to him.

Just then, Mom grabbed me. “Take my hand! Didn’t I tell you not to talk to strangers?”

“Wait, Mom. He looks so cold, and he’s probably hungry too. Couldn’t we at least get him some soup and hot chocolate?”

“Get away from him, right now,” she demanded. “Let’s go!”

“Wait a minute, please?” I urged.

“Remember last year at Halloween when Billy wore that Dracula costume, and he scared me half to death?”

“That was pretty funny,” Joey reminded me. “But that’s ‘cuz you were only six.”

“Yeah, well… I’m a whole lot older and smarter now,” I grinned proudly.

“Mom, don’t you remember what you told me? You said I shouldn’t be fooled by Billy’s costume and that underneath his Dracula costume was the real Billy. Remember what else you said? You said if I looked into the eyes behind his mask, I would recognize Billy.”

Mom just stood there, dumbfounded, staring at me. She looked as if she had been turned into a statue, frozen by the winter storm.


I came to the instantaneous conclusion that I was in trouble, because Mom knelt down, pointed to the ground and said, “Come here, right now.”

The morning sun had drifted higher into the sky, and its beams danced on the snow’s glaze, lending warmth.

I lowered my head and walked over to her slowly. She reached out her hand and lifted my chin, smiling.

“What’s the matter, Mom? Why are you crying?”

Mom reached out and wrapped me in her embrace. “You’re right, you’re a whole lot smarter now.”

Copyright © 2004 Tami C Ryan

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Reviewed by L Hippler 8/11/2007
I really enjoyed this. Your lines at the end about looking behind the mask and "a whole lot smarter" were absolutely perfect.

Reviewed by David Perry 5/24/2007
Nicely done. It reminded me of mother Teresa's explaination for helping the most desperate of the desperate; She saw someone else under the grime.

Thank you for writing this most engaging little story.
Reviewed by Jean Pike 3/9/2007
Beautiful story and a very real, rich portrayal of an ordinary family. I, too, would like to see this story expanded.

Reviewed by Sandi Schraut 2/11/2007
Terrific write, I would like to see this story expanded I think you have the fixin's for a great novel here, loved this! Sandi
Reviewed by Jerelyn Craden 1/15/2007
Lovely, Tami. You got my attention and kept me engaged with the vivid imagery of winter, knowing it all too well ... the family dynamic, sensitively displayed. When we got to the end, I truly wanted to know more. What happens next? Any chance of expanding it?
It's worthy of it as it's super fine writing. Jerelyn
Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan 1/15/2007
well written and a good story-i love the bits of humor, fun, family, and compassion

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