My world turned upside down and I was hurtling down the tree-lined slope screaming, holding tight to the rope, egged on by shouts of glee and laughter from behind. My green muffler sailed out in the wind created by the cart, and tree trunks flashed swiftly past us.
“Turn. TURN,” they yelled as the hill flattened out.
I stuck out one leg, pulled hard and skidded sideways on into a fresh hummock of snow. The three behind slammed into me so hard it winded me and then we all tumbled off sideways and laughed and laughed.
Another cart came careening down the hill; its occupants with Y-shaped arms holding to nothing. Dempsey, always the dare-devil, had the rope around his feet. They all stuck their legs out to the sides as they came to level ground.
They looked like one giant spider, eight legs bearing down on us. The cart soughed past and ploughed into a soft, deep drift by the fence.
I looked at my companions, bewildered. Buddy Leck, Wendy Prosser, Tommy Toes. Greta Hansen, Des Rhodes, Teri Taylor. Dempsey came over; gave me one of his wide, toothless grins. “B team wins. We went the furthest.”
“Not fair!” Wendy whined. “We were faster.”
“How about we call it a draw?” I said.
“Okay. Same teams, biggest snowman, then,” said Dempsey.
I knew he’d redefine ‘biggest’ to his own advantage when we’d done but I didn’t care about that now. I didn’t argue the point. We shook on it. And I was right; tallest became fattest in a heartbeat. Another draw, I said and Wendy said we’d better be getting home before dark and Buddy said that was the trouble with girls and we all trudged down the broad avenue of trees together singing songs, kicking snow and throwing snowballs; arguing all the way which team scored the most hits.
Someone must have picked up the snow globe and given it a shake, just as I had, for all at once I was back in the junk shop, staring into its unchanging scene at people in the distance, making their way along a snowy track through trees.
“Are you okay there, sir?” asked the elderly assistant with a smile.
“Fine,” I said, “just — thinking.”
“That’s a remarkable piece, is it not?”
“It certainly is,” I said, and he gave me a knowing look.
“Right you are. Just call me if you need anything.”
I wondered who that other person was who picked it up and who they’d meet in there. I was always being out-Dempseyed as a child. It used to upset me then. We’d scrap. But here I was and Dempsey was long gone and to tell you the truth, in that moment, I missed him.
Oonah V Joslin is Managing Editor at Every Day Poets. Credits include 3 Micro Horror prizes, an honorable mention in The Binnacle’s Short Poetry comp 2009, inclusion in several anthologies, A Man of Few Words, The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 and 2009 and Toe Tags. Read her at Static Movement, The Shine Journal, A View From Here, The Ranfurly Review 10FLASH Quarterly and many other places. Oonah reads some of her poetry here. Other work including her Novella, A Genie in a Jam, can be found at Bewildering Stories. The list is updated in The Vaults at Parallel Oonahverse and on her Facebook. Oonah’s ambition is to have a book published.