End of Storm

by Sean Ulman

East of eastern mountains a scarlet sunrise rose, rosy ice flared and frozen above town, splintery scars grouted with pink quartz chipped crimson clouds (rounded ruby panels like dragon scales)—scary, such beauty.

Sun-glassed Nordic skiers skied exit glacier road. They glided in a two-lane-traffic trail cleaved by snowmobile sleds, swished past friendly faces, tail-wagging huskies and shepherds, raised poles ‘hello,’ and stepped aside up to their thighs in snow to rest and talk.

“Perfect temp once you get swinging.”

“The wind’s gone – taste that nice still sunny cold…”

“Yeah, we’ll get our good winter, won’t we?”

They leaned on arm-pitted poles, breathing, taking in the breathtaking sight – snow-coated Mt. Eva backed by bright blue – drinking that picture (mountain cropping sky) as if it were a cold glass of water, using the view to tap the body’s reserve energy wells. They hopped back onto the track, arms swinging skis skidding, feeling like they could ski until dark.

A St. Bernard with snow up to his snout bounded beside ten-year-old twin sisters as they constructed a seven-foot cubed snowman by stepping up on sturdily-crafted snow steps. In the background in a backyard a snow-blower blew snow.

Two fifth grade boys loaded two tennis ball canisters with predictions written on paper scraps. With a post-hole digger they dug two holes near the hibernating bayside horseshoe pits, planted the canister time capsules, and marked each sight with a red-food-coloring-dyed snowball. They agreed that at this time tomorrow they would dig up the short-term capsule, on which was written items such as: ‘the eagle will still be perched in the cottonwood above,’ and ‘my family will eat chicken tonight, again.’ Contained in the long-term canister, to be recovered when the snow melted were predictions of loftier consequence, such as: Iditarod champion picks, amount of aurora borealis sightings, how many days their class would have a substitute teacher and a pessimistic prediction, ‘dang! We dug up the wrong capsule’.

A pickup with rusted rims rammed down an alley. Slush gushed off spinning wheels flooded the hollow imprint of a backyard snow angel.

Five snow-machiners snow-machining off the lost lake trail playground gunned up and down steep slopes. Attempting to land jumps off bubbly bumps two sleds sunk and stuck, packed into snow so bad it took all five guys and two shovels to excavate them out. There was only a breeze at the base, but three miles up three hours later the wind pounded so hard it was hard to hear or see the closest sled. It was not snowing yet blown blizzard-level snow blasted them blind beyond ten feet. At 3 o’clock one guy didn’t show at the rendezvous forest trail fork. Thinking their missing friend might’ve headed down, they headed down. Morose and embarrassed they prayed for their friend. Sinister snow sift (white sand) sailing sideways, scratched the empty parking lot. After a brief frenetic and emotional discussion, the closest friend of the missing man, reasoned, “Got to, sooner the better,” and dialed 911.

West of western mountains a scarlet sunset rose, rosy ice flared and frozen above town, splintery scars grouted with pink chinks chipped crimson clouds (rounded ruby panels like dragon scales)—scary, such beauty.

Sean Ulman‘s short fiction has appeared in the webzine Six Sentences and is forthcoming in Tuesday Shorts. Two poems will be featured in the forthcoming inaugural issue of the Main Street Journal at the University of Delaware. He received his Master’s degree in creative writing (fiction) in July 2005 from the Stonecoast MFA low-residency program of the University of Southern Maine.

Back to Issue Two: Winter 2009