While sheltering at home like millions of other people during the the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been working on another story for Aunt Truly’s Tales, a companion project to my forthcoming novel, The Kiminee Dream. It’s good, I think, to continue doing creative work during uncertain times.
Aunt Truly is an enigmatic character in The Kiminee Dream who tells stories. Aunt Truly’s Tales will contain a story she tells in the novel, along with other tales not found in the book.
Recently I shared this story with members of my Readers Group in a periodic newsletter I send to them. Now, I’m sharing it here. It’s my version of a traditional folktale.
Here it is:
The Snow Girl
By Laura McHale Holland
Once long ago and so far back in time that my great, great, great grandmother wasn’t even a twinkle in her mother’s eye, a boy named Roddy and a girl named Rosalyn fell deeply in love. And when they came of age, they married and made for one another a warm and cozy home.
They worked hard through the seasons and were generous with their neighbors, sharing bounty from their fields in the summer and preserves from their cellar in winter. Each month, they prayed for a child, but again and again, they were disappointed. As the years passed, their hearts grew heavier with each wrinkle and every gray hair, knowing their childbearing years were coming to an end.
Seeing Roddy and Roslyn’s grief, some folks avoided them, clueless about what to do. Some even whispered that the couple was cursed and must have done something evil to deserve being barren. But plenty of villagers stood by them, knowing misfortune hits us all in different ways.
So it was one winter’s day that Roddy was on his way home after enjoying a good smoke and story swap with a neighbor when a moist snow danced down from the heavens. Roddy stopped when he saw children shaping a drift into a large ball to form the base of a snowman. A joy he hadn’t felt in decades filled his heart when heard their laughter. Then, struck with an idea, he jumped up, clicked his heels together and ran home.
“Rosalyn, love,” he called when he reached their front porch. “Come outside, and hurry up. A perfect snow is falling.”
Rosalyn untied her apron, threw it over a chair, put on her coat and scarf and rushed out the door. There she saw her husband grinning with his hands clasped at his chest. “Whatever has you so excited?” she asked.
“Let’s make a snow child. Right now. A beautiful snow child. Boy or girl. I don’t care.” Rosalyn took a fancy to the idea and immediately pulled her mittens from her pocket and put them on. “Yes! A snow child. A wondrous snow child of our very own. Let’s get to work.”
So they rolled and packed and shaped the snow with the tenderness of new parents doting on a newborn. As they worked, word spread around the village that Roddy and Rosalyn were up to something peculiar, and a crowd gathered, curious about what was going on. Soon they saw a child emerge, a beautiful girl the likes of which no one had ever seen. She was perfectly proportioned from head to toe.
Detractors snickered and said the old geezers had lost their marbles. Most, however, were enthralled with what a short time ago was merely a big lump of snow. Roddy and Rosalyn clothed the child in a cousin’s hand-me-downs, which made her look quite real, and finally, they patted two coals into place for her eyes. The moment they stepped back to view their creation, the snow girl came to life and sprang forward to embrace them.
“Oh, Mommy, Daddy, thank you so much! At last I am whole and have a family of my own.” Her voice was mellifluous and enchanting.
Roddy and Rosalyn named their daughter Robbi, and all through the winter the days passed merrily. She often played with other children, who had no trouble accepting her. It was as if she’d always been part of their lives.
But as the days grew longer and winter gradually melted into spring, the snow girl avoided the sun and spent most of her time in the cellar where it was cool.
“Is there anything we can do for you?” Rosalyn asked her.
“Yes, anything at all, dear Robbi?” Roddy added.
But the girl could think of nothing they could do. She emerged from the cellar only under the cool light of the moon. And as spring turned to summer, she grew weaker by the day. On midsummer’s eve, a gaggle of children came to the door and asked if Robbi could join them in making a bonfire after dark, something they did every year. Roddy and Rosalyn had reservations, but they couldn’t resist their daughter’s eagerness at the thought of participating in this important event. Robbi kissed her parents goodbye and promised to be careful before scampering off.
During the celebration, she laughed and danced along, newly energized by everyone’s laughter and good cheer. And when the bonfire was almost burned out, she watched as her friends took turns jumping over the flames. Some went alone, others in groups of two or three. She stood at the edge, longing to leap, but uncertain she had the strength to do it. Then two of her friends took her hands and tugged.
They got a good running start, but alas, Robbi’s toe touched a flame as they crossed over. There was a hiss and a flicker. And in an instant the snow girl was gone. All that remained was a little water on the palms of the children who had touched her hands.
So Roddy and Rosalyn were once again without a child of their own. A few people said it was just as well because any snow child, no matter how charming, was the work of the devil. But nobody really believed that. And for the rest of their days, Roddy and Rosalyn reminisced about the daughter who had passed so briefly through their lives but left a lasting mark of love.
What do you think? I’d very much appreciate your leaving a comment.