It was winter and a blue snow fell again covering the plains of this insignificant planet in a fine cobalt dusting of fresh, deep powder. Janey liked to kick it around exposing the light blue layer beneath the darker surface; jumping, leaving little tracks and sky-skids all over the place. Our igloo stood out pink this time of year, glowing warm within, half way up the Mont. Our closest neighbour was miles away down in the valley where it never snowed and his igloo shone yellow on ubiquitous grey. Farther away I could see the comforting white and green of the hydro-polydomes.
“Where’s Janey?” I asked.
“Outside playing,” said Joel.
I stepped out too. “Janey! Not too far, now. Don’t wander too far!”
“Let her alone, Miriam. She’s okay. There’s no harm going to come to her out there and Dog is with her.”
Dog was the robot friend she’d got last Christmas. They were inseparable and it was a great comfort to me. Botdogs are so reliable. Looking at the orange of the sky I knew it wouldn’t be long until the next precipitation. More blue dust. It would fall until midwinter and then purple flowers with turquoise leaves would bloom in its rich dirt. I looked forward to spring.
Janey came running back all breathless. “It’s beautiful, Mummy, isn’t it?” she squealed. “Tell me again about the snow in Montana.”
“Well, it’s a great deal colder than this snow, and very deep and white; so bright it could blind you,” I said. “And tremendous dark trees grow out of it, and when you roll it, it sticks together into a ball and—”
“—makes a snowman!” Janey had seen pictures of snowmen but you couldn’t build a snowman with this chilly dust. She lay down and flapped her little arms leaving a light blue imprint on all that inkiness. She reminded me so much of my little brother — same excitable nature, same sweet face. An angel. Someday I would tell her about Jamie. Whenever she was ready. Whenever she asked.
I imagine him sometimes, still perfect in the snow where he was lost. I see my father and our friends searching; calling. I see my mother weeping. I feel the cold fear that gripped my heart. I see again the spring blossoming sad. Why did I turn my back? Why did I build that snowman? Why?
I was five. And all that was on a different planet and so very very long ago but some lessons are never forgotten though one’s tracks are soon covered.
Oonah V Joslin lives in North East England and writes mostly poetry and flash fiction. She was Managing Editor of Every Day Poets from 2008 to 2014, and is currently Poetry Editor of The Linnet’s Wings.