Winter Lane

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I kicked a chunk of ice along my path, bored with the same sidewalk and the same routine that I took every day to school. At least there was a change in the typical rainy weather … but that change came with snow. Why?! At least high-school was almost over. Although, as soon as that was done, I’d get into a new boring routine as I started to do “adult things.”

The ice chunk skittered across the sidewalk and got caught against the snow bank. Ugh. Why?

WHAM! I kicked it hard, angry at everything. But instead of sending the piece of ice shooting down my path, I kicked a solid sheet of ice to the left of my snow version of a soccer ball. A girl across the street started to laugh as I held my foot and hopped up and down on one leg. “What are you looking at?” I sneered. Immediately, she stopped chuckling and quickened her pace, disappearing in the opposite direction.

As I turned around to make another snide comment, I heard it for the first time. Somewhere in the distance, a vehicle was blasting “Sleigh Ride” through their speakers. If I wasn’t mistaken, it sounded like they had a microphone and were singing along. How disgusting.

With my throbbing toe, I started walking to what I thought was farther away from the noise—toward my house. Stupid cheery music. I hate cheery music. But then, I hate everything. I turned down the corner, ready to head home, do homework and eat my usual bland food before passing out.

Well, that’s just perfect. The noise was coming from an ice cream truck. Better yet, it was parked right in front of my damn house. Two younger kids that lived next door were talking to the woman in the truck and ordering ice cream—in that weather! They looked so damn pleased. I started looking down at my feet to erase the image of their shining, smiley faces from my memory. Disgusting.

The truck started to leave—thank goodness—as I drew nearer to my house. But instead of turning down the next street, it drove next to me and slowed down to match my walking pace.

“Care for some ice-cream?” the woman asked in a too-sweet voice.

“Uhm, care for some business advice? No one is going to buy ice cream when it’s this cold out, thanks,” I huffed.

“I see. Yeah, this weather kinda sucks. I probably wouldn’t want to buy ice cream, either,” she replied.

I paused. I didn’t expect anything less than sugar-coated phrases to come from her ruby-red, lipstick-plastered mouth and “I shit rainbows and butterflies” attitude.

“Then … why are you selling ice cream?” I returned. This lady is so stupid.

“Because my ice cream is one of a kind — you can’t get this stuff anywhere else. It’s worth eating even when it’s cold out,” she enthused.

“Uh-huh. Sure. Well, I’m not buying,” I sneered.

As I started walking away, she continued to slowly trail next to me. She wasn’t ready to give up.

“You sure? I think I have something that will warm you up,” she taunted.

“Don’t have any money,” I grumbled.

“But … it’s free!” she squeaked.

“What is this, some sort of prank?” I spat.

“C’mon. Don’t be such a downer, Debbie,” she said.

I stopped dead in my tracks. It had been so long since anyone had called me Debbie, as opposed to Deborah. It brought me back to my early childhood. Does she know my name, or was that just an odd coincidence?

After rummaging inside her truck, she turned to face me with a mug in hand. The red- and white-striped mug contained a smooth, swirled chocolate ice cream-looking concoction topped with rainbow-colored sprinkles. As she motioned me towards the mug, she placed a spoon with a spiral candy cane handle into it.

“Please,” she said, pushing the mug towards me. “The mug will warm your hands right up.”

I reached out, ready to give her a hard time — there was no way that a warm mug holding perfectly swirled ice cream could be warm. But as I cupped it in my hands, I gasped. It was warm. Almost too hot to touch, even.

Without thinking, I placed a spoonful of the ice cream into my mouth. It too, was warm. Unbelievable. The taste was the perfect combination of salty and sweet, with a hint of peppermint. My next bite was equally warm, but as I got accustomed to the warm texture, it cooled down.

But once my mouth adjusted to the cold and yearned for more warmth, it grew hotter as if to match the temperature I needed. I ate every drop right in front of her ruby-red “every-day-is-a-miracle” smile.

“Uh, thanks,” I said, handing her the mug back. I felt lighter somehow and the walk back to my house didn’t seem so bad anymore.

“You’re welcome,” she smiled.

I felt a drop of water plop on my head. I looked up, gawking at the fact that the patches of snow and ice around me were melting. Before I had a second to ask her how that magical ice cream experience was possible, the truck vanished.