The First Snowman of the Season

MM MacLeod

You kneel in the small front yard, scooping snow together with red-wool-mittened hands. Two inches fell, and the patches you clear show grass which no longer grows but, in its greenness, does not quite appear dead.

The first almost-spherical shape uses up half of the white blanket, so you make the second ball smaller than it should be. Once the third and smallest piece is formed it is placed on top. You pull adornments from your coat pocket: a small and crooked carrot for the nose, two black four-hole plastic buttons for eyes, and a cardboard party hat – because you could find no other headgear – for your snow being to wear. You will need to find more; a snow being needs arms and a mouth, at the very least. You find a thin fallen branch at the base of the lone tree in this yard and push it into the right side of the middle snowball. An arm. You are peckish and will have to continue later.

You are looking out the picture window at the yard. The neighbourhood dogs have visited. There is a yellow, drizzled line halfway around the bottom of your snowman, and a splotch – the size of a grapefruit – on the back of the middle ball. That was one tall dog.

Did the night pass? It is morning. You had breakfast… maybe. You go outside. There is newly fallen snow. It covers the canine artwork made the day before. The fresh snow makes the snowman new again – and blind. You wipe at where the buttons should be. Someone has removed the buttons and replaced them with pennies.

You know the nose is wrong – it doesn’t protrude the way the crooked carrot would. You wipe away the snow and see a plastic nose there – the kind from those plastic-nose-with-black-glasses disguise gags. But no glasses, just the nose.

There is red showing through the snowy chest, where a heart would be. Maybe colour seeped out of your wet mittens yesterday, and you didn’t notice. You are afraid to wipe the snow away to see what is beneath. You look around the yard – no tell-tale red drops or splotches, but you don’t touch the snowman, except to wipe away the snow from that one arm.

That isn’t a branch. It looks like… like a bone. The kind of straight pale bone with double-knob ends you would see in a cartoon. The kind a cartoon dog would have in its mouth, but it is pretty long, like lower-arm length. You pull it out of the snow, because it can’t be real; has to be plastic, a toy. But it is heavy and there is red on the end that emerges from the snow body. You drop it and run – well try to run, but it is a shuffle – into the house. You remove your mittens, and one brown-spotted and gnarled hand reaches for the telephone as you try to remember who to call for help. And you try to remember why that butcher knife is laying on the hallway telephone table. Were you carving something for dinner? Was that today? Or was it yesterday?

MM MacLeod writes fiction and poetry in Hamilton, ON, Canada. She also edits and publishes Frost Zone Zine.