The winter twilight had painted the snowy hills a murky mauve. The wind rustled through the branches of the pines. Across the highway, a lone Christmas tree gleamed, the only colour left in the darkening world.
Grace stood panting at the top of the hill, sled in hand. Her brother and sister had abandoned her out here in the cold and had gone back inside, lured by the smell of the turkey dinner. Her mother had not yet come out to collect her. She probably hasn’t even noticed, she thought. I’m always the last one she thinks of.
Tired, she flopped to her knees in the snow and absently sucked on the little snowballs stuck to her mittens. She’d wanted her siblings to help her build a ramp for the sled. It was perfect packing snow and she was sure that with the right momentum and angle of approach they could get some serious air. I wonder, she thought, what would happen if I never went back inside? I wouldn’t get to open my gifts…but then, they’re probably all socks anyway. She doubted her parents were going to give her the chemistry set she’d asked for. Little girls aren’t supposed to play with acid, her father kept telling her. Sheesh. How was she supposed to prove her theories without the right equipment?