To read from the beginning, click here. To read Excerpt 16, click here.

The family arrives home from winter vacation, just ahead of an ice storm. While Mom and Dad are concerned, the kids find an icescape for the front yard is a great excuse to have fun.

Swathed in snowsuits, scarves, mittens, and boots, we run out the front door. Even wearing rubber soles, our feet fly out from underneath us, and the three of us perform a magnificent back flop landing on our backsides all at the same time. The whole sky sparkles as frozen teardrops fall in front of the street lights. Winter Wonderland.

Krista stands inside the storm door, her fingers smearing the glass. She’s able to get to her feet now, but she still can’t walk. She doesn’t talk yet, either, but the look in her eyes tells me she longs to join in the fun.

I slide up the steps and crack the door open. “Mom. Let Krista come out, too.”

She calls back. “Too cold. Too slippery.”

“No, really, Mom. She can slide around on her bottom. She’ll love it.”

In five minutes, Mom sets the well-padded, snow-suited Krista on the front step. A scarf is wrapped around her head so only her eyes peek out from a slit between the layers.  I sit down next to her, then push off with my mittened hands and bump down the steps on my behind. She imitates my motions perfectly and emits little squeaks with every downward bump. The boys join us for a few more rounds of “Bump Down the Steps” before we slide across the expanse of the front yard.

I slow to a stop by one of the bushes. It’s encased in crystal. Krista follows me in a scoot-slide. She tries to pull a crystal droplet off one of the bottom branches, but already, the ice is too thick. The ice drop remains attached to the branch.

After several minutes of performing our own version of ice Olympics, Daddy pokes his head out the front door. “Come on in, now. Parts of town have lost power, and I don’t like the looks of those electrical lines.”

“What’s wrong with them?” Wayne asks.

We gaze at the sagging, ice-imprisoned wires strung between the telephone poles.

“If those things break while we’re under ’em, we’ll get electrocuted.” Phil always enjoys an opportunity to terrify his little brother.

“Yeah, I’m going in.” Wayne backs up, keeping his eyes on the wires until his heel hits the front step and he almost takes another tumble.

We tromp inside leaving a mess of soggy, thawing snow gear on the entryway floor. An hour later, just as I’m getting to the most exciting part of my book, the lights go out.

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