landscape photography of snow pathway between trees during winter

I look out my window and smile at the white blanket that has covered my city while I slept. I reached for my phone to check my notifications to find that school had been canceled for the day. Texts started to fill the group chat and before I knew it, my house had become the designated meeting area. Groaning, I slithered out of bed onto my cold floor. I had less than twenty minutes before my friends started to come in from down the street.

Once I was dressed I shuffled down the hallway and poured myself a cup of coffee. My mom sat at the counter while scrolling through her phone.

“Good Morning, Darcy.” My mom looked up from her phone. “Any plans for your day off?” A loud knock came from the front door before I could answer. My mom smirked and went back to her phone.

“Open the door, get out here,” Raelynn calls through the door. I run to the entryway and throw on my jacket. I open the door to see Raelynn and Evan standing on my front porch. Their siblings were behind them talking on my lawn.  

“What do you guys want?” I asked like I didn’t already know. It was our tradition to have a snowball fight every first snow day of the school year. You could call it childish, but a tradition is a tradition and Raelynn never let us skip it.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Raelynn answered back to me, just as sarcastic. I walk out the door and shut it behind me. “Your brother is still asleep?” She asked, noticing my brother had failed to make an appearance.

I shrug. “Probably, he prefers to sleep in on his snow days, like a normal person.” Evan smirks in my direction, Raelynn nods in understanding.

“We thought he might bail on us, so we recruited my new neighbor. I think you two might have math class together,” Evan says as we rounded the corner to the back of my house. I had the biggest backyard so naturally we gathered here.

“Who?” I ask. Evan motions past me and I turn around. Right there in the middle of my backyard was Aiden.

I grab Evan by the arm and pull him closer so he could hear me whisper in his ear. “He’s your new neighbor? The one you called cool the other day?” I hissed. Evan widens his eyes at me and nods.

“Is something wrong?” Raelynn asks. I take a deep breath and release Evan. I put on a fake smile and look at Raelynn.

“Nope, everything is just peachy,” I say through clenched teeth. Raelynn’s face lights up and she claps her hands.

“Perfect,” She says, then turns away from me. “Okay, everyone line up. Darcy and I will be captains today.” The troops fell in line against the back of my house. There were eight of us in total. Raelynn had three younger siblings and Evan had one. All ranging in ages of four to thirteen.

Raelynn and I walked over to face them.

“Rock, paper, scissors?” Raelynn asks. I nod. We fought, rock beat scissors. I lost. Raelynn picks first.

“Rachel.” She picks Evans’ younger sister first.

“Hardy.” I picked Raelynn’s youngest brother. Raelynn picks her oldest sister, and I pick her middle sister. I was now down to Evan and Aiden. My stomach dropped. I knew who she’d pick and that left me with a less desirable option. Raelynn and Evan weren’t officially a thing, but they definitely should be. As the nerds would say, ‘I ship it’.  

“Evan,” Raelynn says with a smile. Evan beams and walks over to her side and Aiden walks over to me.

“Hi,” He says with a wicked grin. I give him a glare.

“Hi yourself,” I say back.

“Five minutes to strategize.” Raelynn says to me. Her and her team walk over to the left side of the backyard.

“So, a snowball fight,” Aiden tries to make conversation.

“Yes,” I answered shortly. I look over to my group. “Okay, team. They may have Evan and Karly, but we have Hardy, the official softball pitcher of P.E class. They don’t stand a chance.” I say. They grin and Hardy pretends to flex the muscles he didn’t have. “Today our strategy is simple: throw snowballs like your life depended on it, and don’t get hit. This isn’t dodgeball guys, this is war!” My two youngest troops yelled. “Now go make some ammo, I need to talk to my subordinate,” I say. They give another yell and run off to the right.

“Subordinate?” Aiden asks, eyebrows raised. I looked at him sideways and then turned to him.

“You heard me.” I crossed my arms.

Aiden holds up his hand. “Are you still mad about the other day?” He asks.

“You mean when you dropped your entire coffee on my lap during lunch? Yes, yes, I am still mad.” Him and his friends had been running through the cafeteria. Aiden had been dodging a half-peeled orange when he stepped on a water puddle and fell right into my lap. Iced coffee had splashed across my shirt and jeans. What had made me upset wasn’t that my shirt had been white and was completely ruined, or the fact that I would have to change my entire outfit, it was when he had stood up and he and his entire brigade had started laughing at me.

“It was an accident,” he says like he would to an angry toddler.

“So you’ve said, but what I haven’t got was an apology.”

He opens his mouth to say something I’m sure will make the situation worse, but I close my eyes and shake my head. Sometimes I wonder about him. “Go,” I say to him pointing to Harley. He walks away and I follow him. I kneel and start making snowballs. Aiden kneels in front of me. I glance up at him and our eyes meet. He holds up a finger and starts to shape the snow.  

He grins at me and holds something out in his palm. I look down and bite the inside of my cheek. In his hand is a small duck made out of snow. He holds it out to me.

“Does that count as an apology?” He asks. I look back up at him. “Come on, Darcy. Can’t we be friends?” I give the realest glare I can muster and snatch the creation out of his hand.

“This is not over,” I say to him while setting the duck aside. He grins and starts making normal snowballs. I sigh and start to copy him.

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