“Hi, baby. How’s my favorite girl?”
Right away, I knew my dad wanted something. He didn’t talk to me like this unless he wanted something. Besides, I was his only daughter.
“Hi, Dad. I’m fine. How are you today? “
“Just great. So…Leslie, what are you doing this weekend? Do you have any plans?”
Dare I say no? Couldn’t be any worse than what I had planned, which was cleaning my apartment.
“Nope. What did you have in mind?”
“I just wondered if you’d be interested in going up to camp with us. The weather is supposed to get nasty next week and I want to winterize the place. You know, drain the water lines, seal up the windows. All that fun stuff.” “Sure, Dad, we’ll go. Is Mom going?”
“Yeah, she’ll go along, even though she hasn’t been feeling well. Change of scenery will be nice, although most of the leaves have fallen, up there in the mountains.”
“Okay. Do you want me to bring anything?”
“Need I ask?” I laughed. “I guess I have time. It’s only Wednesday.” Dad thought I made the best lasagna, although I told him many times that I just follow the recipe on the lasagna noodle box. Occasionally, I use sausage instead of ground beef, but that’s the only thing.
“Alright, Dad. I’ll be ready after work on Friday. Me and my girl. You picking us up?”
“Sure. Be there around five, okay?”
“Okay. Bye, Dad.”
My ‘girl’ was Lizzie the Lab. Since I was in the middle of preparing her food when Dad called, I dumped it in her dish and whistled. She slid off of her favorite spot, the couch, and trotted into the kitchen.
“We’re going bye-byes, Liz.” She paused long enough to look up at me, leaning against the counter. “Ride in car? Grandpap?” The waving of her tail indicated she heard and was pleased, but she continued her assault on her dish.
Tomorrow night I’d pick up the groceries on the way home from work. It wouldn’t take me long to slap the lasagna together. I’d bake it, then freeze it so it wouldn’t get messy in transport. Tonight I’d have to do a little cleaning job. I noticed ‘dust puppies’ under the toe-kick below the kitchen cabinets. We didn’t have dust bunnies, oh no! These were bigger and black because they were made of Lizzie’s hair. Shedding was one of her best tricks. She walked away from her dish licking her lips. Dinner was good.
I sighed as I pulled out the sweeper.
I worked in a gift store. Actually, I do more than that. I make most of the gifts, too. Some items I buy from other artists. I shared floor space with a friend of mine, Zak, who ran a coffee shop. It was a great arrangement. People came in for his coffee and browsed my merchandise. People who came to see my stuff would usually buy Zak’s coffee while they shopped. Between customers, I made stuff in the shop. Beaded bracelets and jewelry were my best sellers, but I painted on every-day things like bricks or Mason jars, transformed watering cans and bird houses into lamps, and tie-dyed shirts, sheets, table clothes…just about anything. I typed and edited papers for the local college students. Whatever it took. It was a living. The rent was cheap. I liked it. Frequently customers returned and asked me to make something for them. I charged a little more for special orders, but not so much that people minded paying it. I had many repeat customers.
Lizzie accompanied me to work, so I didn’t worry about her being home alone all day. Most of the time she snoozed on the ratty old brown plaid couch in the back room, where we kept her water dish. People who knew her could call to her, and she trotted out to visit with them, usually happy to see people. She was a good old girl.
After work she waited in the car while I picked up the groceries. Now don’t give me grief about leaving my dog in the car. It was November but still relatively warm. Both front windows were open while she observed the activities in the parking lot from the back seat. The car was an older model; no one wanted it but me. Even if I left the keys in it and wrote “STEAL ME” in the dirt on the rear window, it would still be sitting there waiting for me, in all of its paint-chipped, dinged-quarter-panel glory, when I returned.
My life was good.
While the lasagna baked I chewed on a peanut butter sandwich and rinsed it down with a glass of ice cold milk. Lizzie scarfed down her Purina One while we watched the news. The weatherman predicted cold weather and possibly snow for the following week, like Dad said, so I guess it was a good thing we were going. Once before a frozen pipe expanded and ruptured in the cabin, and made a terrible mess. Good thing the place had a basement, because most of the mess was there and didn’t ruin the fine furniture and carpeting on the main floor.
I say that with an eye-roll The furniture was mainly cast-offs from Mom and Dad’s house, accented by a few flea-market finds and bargain store rugs in patterns and colors that wouldn’t match anybody’s furniture in this hemisphere. Everything was comfortable, whether it matched or not. There were two bedrooms, a large combined kitchen-dining room-living room area, and one bathroom.
My parents owned this retreat in the mountains for years, but when we first came here, there was an outhouse. I would lie awake for hours rather than visit the outhouse in the dead of night. Once, when I couldn’t wait ‘til morning,I sneaked outside, and while trying to convince my bladder it was okay to empty itself, a large and hairy spider rappelled down from the ceiling. Dad heard me screaming and charged to my rescue in his underwear.
Shortly after that episode the small third bedroom became a bathroom. We had a sleeper-sofa in the living room too, in case we had extra visitors. What more did we need?
My mom suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. She has good days and bad. Some of the medication helped the pain and joint deformity but caused other problems. Dad retired early from his teaching job to take care of her. He’s a good guy. I love them both so much.
My apartment isn’t far from their place. It’s actually the second floor of a huge old house with a fireplace, big windows and lots of storage place. What more could a girl ask for?
I graduated from a college about an hour’s drive from where I grew up, so I’ve never really been away. Maybe this accounts for my relationship issues. My issue is—I’m not in any relationship. I grew up with all of the guys who live in our town, so I feel like they are all my brothers. And I’m not interested in moving away just to find someone. Like I said before, my life is good here.
I have an older brother, Arthur, who lives in Oregon with his family, but doesn’t come home often. He’s twelve years older than me, so I can’t say we were ever close. By the time I grew up, he was gone. I know my parents miss him. So I’ve tried to be a son and a daughter to them.
So there you have it. My family history in a nutshell.
At five-fifteen on Friday evening we left my building.
The sky had turned dark by then, but Dad knew the way and we bullshitted non-stop the whole time. Mom dozed off an hour into the trip, but woke up and added her two-cent’s worth into a conversation we had a half hour ago.
Before Dad retired he invested in a Chevy Blazer, complete with all the bells and whistles. He said this would be his last new car, although I had doubts about that. Anyway, a thermometer in this car showed us that the temperature was dropping the further north and higher into the mountains we went. We left the city at fifty-five degrees, by the time we turned off the highway to the cabin it was thirty-three degrees, and raining.
At seven-thirty we passed the long row of blue spruce trees edging the property and pulled into the long driveway. With the headlights illuminating the front, Dad hustled over and unlocked the door, then set about switching on the electricity while Mom and I waited in the running car. It was easier for Dad and I to each take one of Mom’s arms and help her into the cabin than to have her use her walker on the uneven ground. We took turns going to the bathroom then settled Mom in the recliner. Dad checked for signs of mice that sometime wiggle their way inside. Happily, there weren’t any.
Dad called to me, “I’ll get the firewood from the shed. You helpMom, okay?”
“Sure,” I called back.
We could see our breath in the cabin. I kept my hoodie on, and bundled a blanket around my mother until we were ready to eat. The fire in the woodstove was cheerful, and we were warm in a few minutes.
The rear wall of the dining room side of the cabin consisted of all windows, and showed us the snowflakes settling around the bottom of the window frame.
“Uh oh, here it comes,” said Mom.
“I thought the weatherman said ‘next week’,” I said.
“That’s the forecast for the city. Always colder here.”
I unpacked the bread, maple ham and American cheese that Dad brought, along with a big green Tupperware bowl of macaroni salad. I found paper plates in the cupboard above the sink; knives and forks in the drawer. I brewed coffee for my parents. I’d drink a Diet Something-or-other.
By the time Dad returned from checking the place out, the wet fluffy snow was a third of the way up the windows. He stood by the window, rubbing his chin.
“Everything is going to be frozen under the snow. Maybe we’ll get snowed in.”
“Hope not. Gotta work on Monday.”
“I’ll write you an absent note.” We all laughed at that. I hadn’t needed one of those for a long time.
We chatted while we ate the sandwiches.
By the time I took Lizzie outside for her last run snow covered everything. Glad I brought my boots.
In the morning, the world was white.
I pulled on my boots and dressed for the blizzard outside. Lizzie barked and pranced at the door.
“I know, girl. I’m hurrying.”
Heavy snow piled against the storm door, making me push with all of my strength to get it open. Lizzie bolted into the blizzard, then squat-walked across the yard, leaving a yellow squiggly line behind her. A huge snow fan, she looped around in a happy dance. Usually I would join her, but today I felt uneasy. I wanted to get this weekend over and go home. This wasn’t going to be fun.
After she ran for a few minutes we went inside. I slid out of my gear and accepted the mug of coffee from Dad, folding my hands around the hot mug.
“How much snow do you think we got, Les?” asked Dad.
“A lot. I’m not a good estimator, but…maybe four or five inches. There are a bunch of branches down and the trees are really bendin.’ Nobody’s on the highway, at least while we were outside.”
“I don’t like this,” said Mom. “I hope the heavy branches don’t pull the power lines down.”
We all knew we would be in trouble if that happened.
“Right,” said Dad. “As soon as I drain the lines we’ll go. We don’t want to get stuck here without power.”
We all agreed. So we polished off the right-from-the-oven cinnamon pecan rolls we brought with us and warmed up, then set to work.
Mom carried the few dishes that we dirtied to the sink and washed them while Dad and I sealed the windows. Snow blew across the fields behind the cabin and the icy, snow-laden trees were bending even lower. A few times we heard a loud crack from a brittle branch. This was getting scarier.
“Dad, I think Mom’s done with the dishes. If you want to drain the lines, I can finish this myself.”
“I have a little radio in the bedroom. I’ll bring it out here for you and Mom to listen to a weather forecast. It has battery back-up in case the power goes out.”
As if on cue, the lights blinked out, but came back on again.
“Uh huh. I’ll get some flashlights, too.”
I added another log to the woodstove and went back to my job. Inside storm windows snapped in place, providing another layer of protection from the cold. We carried them upstairs from the cellar, so all I needed to do was wash them, position them in the track and snap them in place.
Dad tuned in the radio and placed it on the table next to Mom. The only station he could find was a talk-radio station. An ad for Gieco Insurance came through now.
Dad said, “Let me know when you hear the forecast,” and headed downstairs.
“Are you warm enough, Mom?”
“I’m fine, Leslie. I’ll keep an eye on the fire and yell when we need more wood.”
I said, “Okay,” and went back to work.
From my vantage point I could see the field behind us. The wind rippled the snow on the ground, and the falling snow was nearly horizontal. But something else—the snow only rippled in some places, and not in others. Kinda weird, I though. You’d think it would be all or none.
I stopped to watch, catching the fading voices on the radio.
“…I-80 is closed. All secondary roads are impassible. State Police are warning anyone that doesn’t have to be on the roads to stay inside…”
“Things are bad out there. There’s a sheet of ice under the snow. I don’t care if you have four-wheel-drive—I don’t care if you’re driving an Army tank—you WILL slide if you try to stop. Next caller?”
“You are absolutely right, Clark,” came the tinny voice. “I had to take my wife to work—she’s a nurse—and we saw wrecks EVERYWHERE! The ambulance was called out to an accident, and THEY slid and landed in a ditch.”
“How did you make it home, sir?”
“Well, I have a heavy-duty four wheel drive truck with snow tires. We crawled, I’ll tell ya. She’s gonna stay at the hospital tonight. They’re asking the nurses to stay to replace those who can’t make it in. My wife has to work tomorrow anyway, so maybe by the time she’s done tomorrow afternoon the roads’ll be cleared.”
“We hope so, sir. And thank your wife for us…”
That’s all I heard. I ran downstairs to tell Dad.
We decided to hunker down and stay the night. Like the man said, tomorrow would be a better day. Hopefully.
I heated up the oven, while we still had it, planning to bake the lasagna now and wrap it on foil to keep it warm until we were ready to eat. There were Thermos jugs stashed in the cupboard from when Dad hunted so I filled them with hot coffee or water.
I checked all of the flashlights. Dad brought us a kerosene heater, and was pretty sure there was a can of kerosene in the shed. I dug out the extra blankets and removed the plastic wrappers. They smelled faintly of moth balls but what the hell? They were warm.
I was ready. Okay, Old Man Winter—hit us with your best shot!
Dad filled old milk jugs with water. If the power went out, so did the plumbing. We’d have water for flushing and hand washing, anyway.
I kept the strange motion in the cornfield to myself, checking every so often to see if it was still going on. And yes, it was. I compared it to a body rolling under the covers, sort of a tossing, shifting motion. Weird. I’ve seen snow before, but not like this.
The other odd thing was that the rolling movement was bringing whatever it was closer to our cabin. It was way back at first, so far away I couldn’t tell if it was just wind. Now, I knew it wasn’t.
Naturally, Lizzie picked this time to run to the door and bark at me, her way of saying she had to go. Too bad dogs couldn’t use indoor toilets.
“Okay, Liz, just give me a minute to get ready,” I told her. I dressed in the coat, boots, scarf and gloves that I brought with me, and borrowed Dad’s fleecy hat that buckled under the chin. Normally I wouldn’t be caught dead in a hat like this, but this was unusual circumstances.
“While you’re out there, would you mind bringing in the kerosene can? “
“Sure. Is it locked?”
“I left it open this morning. Just remind me to lock it up before we leave in the morning.”
I slipped on the hat, and clipped the leash to Lizzie’s collar. Usually, I wouldn’t bother with this, but I wanted to be able to reel her in if I thought there was danger. We stepped out into the gale-force wind and blinding snow. I thanked Dad for the goofy-looking hat.
We trudged further into the wind, towards the center of the yard. Lizzie ran a few steps away and quickly squatted to take care of business. No leisurely sniffing this time. She was in a hurry.
I scrutinized the field. The slithering snow was up to the post and rail fence that edged our acre of property. As I watched in disbelief, a large poorly-defined shape flopped over the fence and started rolling in the direction of the cabin. I tugged on the leash and slogged towards the shed. Liz didn’t offer any resistance this time, trudging head down into the wind beside me. I threw open the shed and we both fell in to get out of the weather. As much as I hated to go back out, I grabbed the can and we started toward the cabin.
As I pushed Liz into the open the door, I glanced over my shoulder at the yard. The shape rolled beneath the snow at a faster speed, causing me to make my entrance to the kitchen a bit noisy. I threw the door shut and locked it.
“Les, is something wrong?” Mom stood at the counter, making sandwiches.
I was speechless, for the first time in my life. Dad looked at me as I peeled off the outer ware.
“Mom and Dad, I don’t know how to say this…but there’s something out there. At first I thought it was just wind and snow, but it’s something else. It’s…I think it’s some kind of… creature? I don’t know what it is.”
They followed me to the window. It took several minutes but I located the moving mass, just yards away. They weren‘t convinced it was alive until something like a head popped through the white stuff, and we saw them. Eyes. Reddish and glowing in the totally colorless environment.
I screamed, ten years old again and having a nightmare, pressing my face against Mom’s shoulder. Dad enclosed both of us in his arms. I didn’t want to look, but I couldn’t not look, hoping to see something out there that I recognized.
Dad said, “It’s got to be some kind of animal. A goat, maybe. It got lost in the storm.”
“Don’t want to argue with you, Dad, but I’ve never seen a goat look like that. Red eyes?”
Mom said, “Maybe they’re bloodshot?”
I shook my head. I believed that none of us thought it was a goat or anything else we knew, but we didn’t want to admit it. Just the same…
“Where’s the gun, Dad? Better to be safe than sorry.”
He went to get it, breaking it open to check the barrels. He popped two shells into the chambers and closed it.
“There. It’s ready to go, if any of us need it. I’ll put it on the kitchen counter, near the door. Don’t want Lizzie to accidentally knock it over.”
I couldn’t tear my eyes from the yard.
We finished what work could be done while we were still staying there. None of us felt much like playing cards or a board game, our usual camp activities. I brought a cross stitch project I was working on for the shop, Mom pulled out a crossword puzzle book and her over-sized pen, and Dad was just content to sit with us, listening to the radio.
Callers were trading stories of their experiences in the storm– how long it took them to get home, how many inches of snow had piled up by their front door, how long it took to shovel the driveway. Every time a new caller signed in, the host dropped a “coin” in the “pot.”
The talk show host answered the call of what sounded like an older man.
“Go ahead, sir; you’re on the air.”
“Hello, my name’s Herman. I’m a first time caller.” (We heard a cha-chink of the coin hitting a pot.) “I want to tell you the story my granddaddy used to tell us about the Harvest Snow Monster.”
“Okay, Herman, go ahead. I don’t think I’m familiar with that one.” Herman sounded elderly, so I couldn’t imagine how long ago his granddaddy must’ve told this story.
“Well, anyway, you know there are monsters all around us, only we don’t see them. This one, the Harvest Snow Monster, isn’t too bad, as long as the crops are harvested at the right time. He eats the left-over crops, then hibernates. But if something happens, why then, he gets mad. Something like an early snow storm.”
“What happens when he gets mad, Herman?”
“Why, uh, he’s out there, wiggling around under the snow, looking for something to eat. And, uh, he’s been rumored to eat people.”
“Good God, Herman! That’s terrible!” So what does this… creature…look like?”
“I don’t exactly know. Granddaddy said he’s all white, fur like a polar bear, but moves under the snow like an amoeba. Can’t really tell what kind of arms and legs it’s got. But it has reddish eyes that glow. That’s how you know when you see it. The rest of it blends in with the snow, but you can see it shifting around, and if it pops it’s head up and you see the red eyes, well, sir, you best better run.”
“That’s scary, Herman. Did you ever see it?”
“Not personally, but my brother Earl did. Once he was a young guy, out hunting in the fall, when a big storm came up. He saw the monster slithering around under the snow. Nearly scared him to death.”
“How did he get away?”
“Jumped in his truck and took off. Never went back to those parts again.”
“Did anyone ever shoot this monster?”
“Not that I know of. No one’s ever found a body. My dad said they might not be around here any more.”
“Have you ever know anybody who became the monster’s lunch?”
“Not personally. But you know, there’s always someone who goes missing, from time to time. Well, that’s where they go, according to the legend.”
“Well, thanks for the warning, Herman. Readers, if you see this thing, try to get a picture, okay? Or shoot it and save the body. I’m sure you’ll go down in the Monster Hunters’ Hall of Fame.” The host chuckled. “Next caller?”
We gaped at each other. So we weren’t imagining things. Other people knew of this creature, the Harvest Snow Monster.
Just then the lights went out. And stayed out.
Mom screamed, Dad swore, and I sat like I was in shock. It wore off in a few minutes, thank God, and I bustled around the cabin, lighting candles while Dad added more logs to the woodstove. A smidgen of daylight still filtered into the cabin; enough that we could make these preparations.
I peered out into the yard, looking for the monster. Relief flooded me when I couldn’t see it.
I turned to say something reassuring to Mom, when I heard it. THUMP! On the roof.
If I wasn’t twenty-three I might’ve jumped in my mom’s lap. As it was, I felt I should be the brave one, so I took a deep breath and hurried toward the table.
Mom looked at me, questioning the loud noise. I shrugged.
“Maybe it’s a branch? Or… a bird?”
“Maybe.” She glanced into the living room area where Dad was working on the woodstove. He hadn’t heard the thump.
“Should we tell him?”
She said, “In a few minutes. Let’s try to be brave. Nothing worse than panicky females.”
I laughed. “You’re right. We’re tough.”
When he came back to us, he heard it himself. A series of bumping and scraping sounds drew out attention to the ceiling.
“Dad, what’s between us and the roof?”
“A crawl space above us, and some insulation I put up about ten years ago. Haven’t been up there since.”
The time was nearly four o’clock, and although Mom and I weren’t really hungry, Dad was.
“I swear, you could eat any time, anywhere. Nothing ruins your appetite.” She smiled at her husband of forty years.
“I think the civilized thing to do would be to invite Mr. Harvest Snow Monster in for some of Leslie’s lasagna. It would be the best meal he’s had in ages, and he’d let us alone and go back to sleep.”
“That’s generous of you, Dad, but I didn’t bring a monster sized pan. Maybe you’d like to give him yours?”
“No way! I’ll wrestle him for it.”
We dived into that lasagna, which was still fairly warm. The sauce tasted just right, with a perfect blend of cheeses, and a crusty edge around the pan. Yum! Concentrating on the food, we pretended to ignore the occasional thump or bump on the roof.
“Just a log, I’ll bet,” said Dad, eyes raised toward to ceiling.
Mom and I agreed. Although, why was the log moving? No one voiced that question. Wind, perhaps?
Clean-up was quick, since we used the paper plates. By the light of the kerosene lamps we huddled around the table in our blankets and listened to the radio for entertainment. Amid reports of closed highways and cancelled morning church services, we strained our ears to hear more Harvest Snow Monster stories, but there were none. That one old man was the only remaining person who knew about it. Besides us.
Around nine o’clock we were bored with the radio, and decided it was bed time. I volunteered to sleep on the couch bed and keep the fire burning. Dad and Mom would cuddle together in their bedroom. I slipped into my sweat pants and with the hoodie on over a t-shirt,I’d be warm enough. I patted the covers for Lizzie to jump up next to me. She obliged, with her happy tail whap-whap-whapping the old patchwork quilt.
I felt a little bit chilly at two-thirty, so I slid out of the covers to throw on some logs. I drifted over to the windows before going back to bed. All was calm. The snowy fields glowed in the moonless night, without any activity. All of the trees were outlined in white.
Okay! I climbed back in beside Liz. After slurping me on the nose, she rolled over and went back to sleep.
I wished I could fall back to sleep. From where I huddled, I could see the window and the snow-blanketed fields beyond our cabin windows. A sliver of silver cracked the night sky, then widened into a V-shape, allowing a cold, pale moon to peek through. The landscape looked so calm and quiet I couldn’t imagine a creature rolling under the snow or up on the roof. It had to be a hallucination, although three people were sharing it.
Just as I settle into the cozy blankets, my arm curled around Lizzie, I saw the arm, reaching down from the roof.
I didn’t scream. I was so terrified that any ability to vocalize left my throat. I didn’t move either, fearing that whatever it was would look in the window at any minute and see me inside. Why do we assume if we stay still, we won’t be seen?
So far, no face was outside the window. Just a long, white arm, with a hand that reminded me of a starfish, groping around the window frame. The hand moved around on the window as if trying to find something. Was it trying to find a handle to open the window? It would be out of luck; the picture windows were non-opening. I held my breath, hoping that nothing disturbed Lizzie’s deep slumber and set her to barking. Although…maybe it would be a good thing. Would a doggy-commotion chase our visitor away?
I imagine he thought the side of the cabin where the picture windows sloped down from the roof was most likely his best possibility of finding a window he could open. But they didn’t open. The other windows were on higher, straight walls that wouldn’t be possible to reach from the roof. Tough luck, Monster. You lose!
Fascinated, I watched the arm retract, then reappear about two or three feet away, still feeling around with that weird star-fish hand. I estimated the arm to be approximately five or six feet long, and I couldn’t see jointed, human-type fingers or even a paw; just these straight, Dr. Seuss-ish type digits. It moved to the side, near the window frame, then busied itself along there. Searching and prying for a way to open the window and get inside. I guessed that was its aim, anyway. Obviously, it hadn’t informed me of its intentions.
As long as the thing stayed on that side of the glass I wasn’t worried. If it found a way in, I’d make a quick move to grab Dad’s shotgun. It still rested on the counter, maybe ten or twelve steps away from us. I could grab it in a few seconds.
As I watched my little floor show, things began to change. An avalanche of snow cascaded down the glass, followed by a white hairy head, with a face pressed against the pane.
I stopped breathing for what seemed like an eternity. The strange orange-red eyes blinked open, and I felt like they bored into mine. Still, I didn’t make a sound. Although it couldn’t be more than two seconds, the face slid down the glass, followed by an indistinct bulky white body; then it was gone.
I resumed breathing. I thought it would be a good thing to do. The danger was gone.
I can’t be sure, but it seemed to me that the monster wanted in to get food, if the old man’s legend was true. When it became evident he wasn’t getting in, he left. I hoped.
No more sleep for me this morning.
I was never so happy to see the dawn. First, the sky lightened to a silvery gray; then a rosy hue lined the ridges on the horizon above our cabin. The storm was over. Somewhere around six-thirty that familiar pale orange ball peeked over the trees to the east and the snowy landscape sparkled as if it was sprinkled with diamonds. An azure, cloudless sky denied the thought that yesterday had been so stormy.
But I didn’t care. I was ready to get the hell out of here. Pretty scenery or not, there really would be no place like home!
Dad moseyed out of his room at seven-fifteen, not that I was watching the time or anything.
“Good morning, Les. Did you have a good night?”
“Dad– you have no idea.”
“What happened, Honey?” He stopped dead in his tracks.
“Go. Do your bathroom thing. Then we’ll talk.”
He nodded and headed to the bathroom. As was his habit, he hit the light switch on the way in. We were shocked to see the lights flick on. If I wasn’t bundled in my blanket cocoon I’d do a happy dance.
I heard a flush, then the water running, and he hurried back into the room. While he made coffee and poured us a mug I told my story.
“My God, Leslie! Why didn’t you wake me?”
“What for? Everything was under control. I kept on eye on the shotgun the whole time. I wasn’t worried. Until the bastard slid off of the roof.”
“That would’ve done it for me. I’d be changing my underwear.” We laughed together.
“Get dressed, Dad. Lizzie’s gonna want to go out soon, and I want to see the roof.”
“You bet. It won’t take a minute.”
While he was getting dressed in his room, I visited the bathroom. As I splashed warm water on my face, I noticed the dark circles under my eyes. A nap this afternoon sounded like a plan to me.
He dressed and was back before I had my boots on. For once, I had to yell for Lizzie to wake her up. She was way too comfortable on the couch bed to go out in the snow, but her bladder persuaded her otherwise. She bolted through the door and across the yard. Dad and I trudged through the knee-deep snow, around the corner of the cabin to the dining room side.
I said, “Holy shit!”
From the peak of the roof, down the side of the window to the ground, the snow was cleared away, as if it something large had slid down. Below the window there was a flattened area big enough to park a Volkswagen Beetle in it. Then—nothing unusual. Snow everywhere , drifting higher along the porch and garage, but nothing that would indicate a monster had been hanging around. Literally, hanging. Upside down.
Dad and I exchanged looks. He said, “Let’s get the hell out of here!”
Mom was up and getting breakfast when we stomped inside, both of us talking at the same time about what we’d seen. When we’d shed our snowy gear and landed at the table with steaming mugs in front of us, we were able to coherently tell her the events from earlier this morning, and the evidence we’d found in the yard. My mother looked us over, peering over the top of her glasses.
“What?” I said. “Don’t you believe me?” “Of course I do. I believe you saw…something, although I don’t know if it was a monster.”
“Well what was it, then? There was something hanging over the edge of the roof, looking back at me.”
“Maybe a bear? Possibly an albino one. That happens, you know. Maybe…there’s a family of bears with the albino gene, and that’s where the legend came from.”
I paused. Now several hours later, I was uncertain. But at the time I was sure it was a creature I’d never seen before. True, I’d never seen an albino bear, but those hands, or paws. There weren’t bear-like.
Okay. I don’t know what I saw, but I didn’t want to see it again.
As soon as we finished out meal we cleaned up the dishes and packed our stuff. Dad drained the water lines and we piled into the car, happier than usual to be on our way home. I shivered, and wondered if I’d ever go back to the cabin. Anyway, not in November.