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Aarju Pandey



She laughed, amused by the falling white flakes. I put my warm hands around her cold pink cheeks. Little snowflakes clung to her lashes. She toddled away stumbling every few steps, and falling face first into the snow. It was silent, excepting her squeals of delight. A blanket of peace covered the city, drowning out everyone and everything, except for her and me. She dragged me over and pulled me down next to her, on the ground. Together we worked hard, building and sculpting, until we had shaped the most beautiful snow baby.

Hot cocoa sat, steaming, on the table. The smell was comfortable, like a wool blanket in winter. I took a deep breath, inhaling the warmth and the chocolate. I raised the mug to my lips and drank. I smiled, as she brought two small hands and grasped her own cup. Suddenly, her cup fell with a clatter to the ground spilling hot chocolate everywhere. Tears hung on the edges of her eyelids, ready to fall. I offered my own cup of cocoa. She giggled, happy again.

Snow melted in the warm weather. She took her little tricycle and wheeled it up to the sidewalk. I stood on the lawn, squinting in the sunlight. She climbed onto the seat of the tricycle and placed her two feet carefully on the two pedals. I watched her, as she pedaled back and forth, and back and forth.

Brightly colored marigolds and tulips were in bloom in the garden. Our favorite garden. We ran around on the lawn, laughing and trying to catch each other. The grass was wet with drops of dew. The sun had just begun poking out of the clouds, and the sky was fiery. Cool air whistled about us as we walked back inside, hand in hand.

It was a summer day. The late afternoon heat crept up on me. I sat on the deck, trying to focus on my book. She was sitting beside me beading a necklace. The necklace fell out of her hands and the beads scattered around the deck. As we both bent to pick them up, we collided and fell over in giggles. The beads and book lay forgotten.

One day in late August, she begged for me to take her on a walk. I was bored, so I agree to walk around the block. We saw the neighbors’ dogs, but that day they didn’t bark. That day it was too hot. We walked past the red brick wall and by the old oak tree. The old man on Hillcrest waved hello. He stood with his gardening tools, perfecting his beautiful flower patch. We kept walking, past the cherry trees and around the pea green house. The blue house on the corner came into view.

The leaves fell, like rubies, topaz, and lapis lazuli on my front lawn. Flip-flops were replaced with sneakers and rakes took the place of lounge chairs. For me, it was another year of school. For her, it was kindergarten. Mornings on the big kids’ bus and maybe even homework. She was excited and ready. Ready for new friends and a real school. Ready to announce to everyone that she was a kindergartner. Ready to grow up. A strand of chocolate hair. Two bright eyes. A little salt and a little pepper. My sister.


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