Snow Day — Part 2

 Alright class, carry on with your math until the bell.  

Miss Allen gestured for me to come up to her desk while the rest of the class got busy with their math books. She told me not to worry about Walter.

Hes usually such a nice boy.  

Handing me a page of math problems, she asked me to give them a try so she could see if I was as far along as the rest of the class. The good news was that since we used the same SRA system back at Simcoe Street as her class did, I didn't have to take a reading test! I would still be in my same group, the second highest in the class. Id always loved walking to the back of the classroom to the big SRA box and flipping through the color-coded cards, like I was a librarian. I always wanted to be a librarian.

In fact, I secretly still played librarian with my little sister; we made Date Due slips out of my parents bridge game score pad and taped them inside our mothers books. We didnt own that many, mostly just some old Readers Digest adaptions, but she read all the time, taking hoards of books of out the library. I guess thats where we got the idea. Nancy stamped the date due with an old date stamp and ink pad of our dads. She insisted on pressing it down hard into the ink pad, getting black ink all over her hands. Being too old to play I simply pretended to check out the books, putting them in a pile and carrying the pile from the bedroom to the living room where I watched TV for a couple of minutes or got a snack and then back to the bedroom to return the books. As the older sister I naturally supervised and corrected Nancy when she messed up and stamped the date crooked. Or, worse, stamped one of the dozen or so actual library books our mum had lying around the house. While I lorded my big sister status over her, I was glad my little sister and I were still going to be sharing a room in the new house. My mother let me pick out the drapes, a ballerina print taken from Degas.

When the recess bell rang, I was still working on the math problems. Frantic to finish and prove I was on track with the rest of the class, I kept my head down while the other students got their boots and coats on and went outside. A few minutes later Miss Allen noticed.

Oh! honey, I didn’t know you were still here. Go on out to recess now, you can finish that later. 

Is it alright if I finish it now? I really didn't want to be in the lowest math group.

Well lets see how youre doing. She came over, picked up the page, and scanned it quickly. Its fine, she said.Go on now, go along and play. Its not snowing, you can join the rest of the children outside. 

I put on my parka slowly, pulled on my stupid white galoshes, and left the classroom. Way down at the end of the hallway, long, shiny, and hollow sounding, I could see two bright light spots, windows in the double doors leading outside. But outside those doors, there was nothing but white. No other kids. Nothing. I stood on the icy pavement under the awning, leaned against the pole, and looked around. 

Miss Allen was wrong, it was snowing. There was nothing to see, no playground swings, no tetherball pole, just a white sky and a white snow-covered field that went on forever. Nothing but snow. Far away there was a wall, a snow-covered wall, beyond that I could see naked trees swathed in snow and the snow-white topped roofs of houses but nowhere a boy or girl in sight. Snow, nothing but snow.

Where was everybody? I knew they must have their special playing places when they had to play outside in the cold; behind a wall somewhere, in the back of the ballroom, sheltering under a tree. Somewhere. Looking to my right and left, I could see both the corners of the building, blurring in the snowfall, seemingly thousands of miles away. On my right was the teachers parking lot. On my left, the white of the playground field disappeared behind the corner. Maybe the other kids were around the corner on that side of the school, making angels in the snow or Eskimo pies. I could try and find them but it was so cold. So cold and snowy. Besides I didnt know their recipe or who the head chef was. What if I got there and there was no room in the kitchen?

Instead, I stayed by the door and convinced myself it really was way too cold and snowy, a blizzard practically, to go wandering around in. I thought of JoAnn back at my old school and how we used to stay inside for recess on cold snowy days and clean the blackboard. She was probably doing that right now, cleaning the blackboard with some other girl, toasty and warm, drawing chalk hearts on the board. 

I stayed like that for the entire recess, arm wrapped around the pole as the snow started to come flying down even faster, the high awning doing nothing to keep the flakes from finding my face and freezing my nose and cheeks off. Feeling sorry for myself, I stood there frozen to that pole, unable, unwilling to move, trapped in the wintry wilds as if I hadnt a friend in the world, alone, abandoned, brushing snot and snow and a few pathetic tears away with my mittens until the bell rang.  

"Yuck,” the boy had said “Yuck, yuck, yuck.” And here I was, cold and alone. 

Id never felt more miserable in my life. How could I know that what my mother said was true? It is always darkest before the dawn. After recess, as I trudged down the hallway back to class, a door opened and a girl I remembered from class stuck her head out. She wore a stretchy black hairband.

There you are! Miss Allen says to tell you to hurry up and put your stuff away. Youre going to be in my group. 

From the chatter behind the door came a voice I recognized. 

No way. I dont want that suck-face on our team. 

Youre the suck-face and its my team so you better shut up, she snarled behind her. Dont mind Walter, she smiled down at me. Hes a moron. 

She was a good three to four inches taller than me and she had one twinkly dimple in her left cheek. 

Go put your stuff away," she said. "Were making dictionary pages! 

Dictionary pages! 

Im Trixie, by the way. Its really Patricia but everybody calls me Trixie. 

Walters voice came from the room again: 

Trix are for kids. 

Trixie rolled her eyes and shook her head. Whats your name, again? 

Simone. Simone Good. 

She smiled, showing off her dimples. Really? 

I felt defensive. Was she going to make fun of my name now? Call me Simonize Wax? Tell me how bad I must be with a name like Good?

Yes, really. Why? 

My last name is Meanley. Im Trixie Meanley. 

I was Good. She was Meanley. I smiled my suckface smile all the way to the cloakroom and back. 


Trixie and I would spend the next few winters—springs, summers, and falls—together, best friends who weathered the storms of puberty side by side. We went from climbing cherry trees and rambling through the neighborhood to combing through teen magazines and sobbing over the Beatles. We went from wearing snow pants under our dresses to mini skirts, boots, and too much mascara. 

We stayed the best of friends until I moved away at the beginning of our freshman year in high school. I remember I was devastated that I had to go. Bereft. As if I was losing my best friend. Which, of course, I was. Life can be funny like that though, just when we're content and comfortable in our skins, something happens—an external like your father getting a new job—or internal—like you've simply grown out of your own skin. That's when change happens. Time to move on. Like it or not.

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