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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)

TITLE: Happy Winter Days
By Gerald Dean


I stared across the grass from my small window overlooking the park The air was still
and frigid. Yellow tinged clouds massed forebodingly above, signaling that heaven’s
winter storehouse was about to break.
A woman carrying a large shopping bag scurried by, blowing furiously on her fingertips.
Harsh, cold beams of orange light from street lamps pierced the trees, casting lattice
shadow patterns on the hard, frozen ground. In the distance a dog wailed forlornly for
No one wanted to be out on a winter’s night like this.

I turned over, trying to find a comfortable position. My bed was hard and lumpy. I felt
my bones were about to fracture with the intense cold. I reached for the last of my beer,
it at least, might help me sleep tonight.
Mercifully, I soon drifted off and crossed a great divide of time, to a winter long lost to
the waking memory. Those happy winter days.

I was in the garden with my brother playing in the fresh fallen snow. We madly and
joyously dashed around throwing snow, rolling in it, even savoring the feel of it melting
in our mouths. Frozen and exhausted with pleasure, we ran our hands under hot water
to thaw them. The excruciating pain was quickly forgotten when our mother produced
steaming cocoa and hot freshly baked flap jacks.

Then back into the garden we went for more fun. The trees were beginning to groan,
and the telephone wires sag, under the great weight of snow and ice. We shouted
and laughed, how wonderful it was to be out in the snow when we were young and happy.

My brother allowed some snowflakes to zig zag their way to the palm of his hand.
We carefully examined their perfectly symmetrical, but marvelously different forms.
Then in a moment, like a mayfly, they were gone.

We rolled a small ball of snow across the ground and amazingly saw it grow larger and
fatter. Then, when it became too heavy, used it as the body of our snowman. He faithfully
kept watch over us, with his large brown button eyes, until he too was gone.

Snow fights with neighborhood children and ambushing unsuspecting passers by with
our specially prepared ammunition, to my childish mind, was a great source of fun and
entertainment. Though I remember my mother getting angry and receiving many reprimands
from her.
A vagrant who often came by was frequently the focus of our assaults. He was old and
slow and made us laugh when he complained and tried to chase us.

The biting cold was causing my sleep to be shallow and spasmodic. I turned over and
pulled the dirty blanket further around myself. I partially opened my eyes and peered out
across the park. I could feel the warmth of my mother’s house, and the joy in my heart
evaporating, as I awoke.
The sun was up and the sky had cleared. Heavy snow had fallen during the night. It had
powdered into strange contorted shapes against the surround fence. A muffled calm lay
over the park.

I fell asleep again and woke up to the happy sound of children’s voices in the park. They
ran around, kicking up the snow and pelted each other with large fluffy snowballs.
Surprised ducks skidded on their rumps as they came in to land on the icy surface of the
pond. I sighed longingly, closed my eyes again, and tried to reposition my aching limbs.

I heard a rasping cough and felt someone touch me on my foot..
“You can’t sleep here sir, you’ll interfere with the flow of traffic, this is a public park.
You’ll have to move on”.
I squinted up at him through red, sleep encrusted eyes. It was the police.
I answered as I had many times before.

“I don’t have a real home to go to, but I’ll move on. God bless you officer”.
I gathered up the cardboard boxes that were my home, together with my meager possessions,
and headed across the park towards the nearest church .There, I might find a little respite from
the cold.
I had to rest a number of times to catch my breath. The children had seen me. They rolled
snowballs. One hit me on the head. It stung and wetted my clothes, making me colder than ever.
I considered chasing them.

‘No; forgive me Lord’, I thought with bitter regret.
Whatever happened to those happy winter days of long ago”?.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst08/21/09
Nicely done. I was sad at the end & wondered how the homeless person had reached his tragic predicament.