Natalie tiptoed through the living room. On TV Ellen was doing one of her crazy dances and everybody in the audience was clapping and cheering, but Natalie’s mom was passed out on the sofa. Natalie put on her polka dot boots, her parka and her mittens, and went outside.
Natalie lay down in the fresh snow and pumped her arms up and down. She wished she could take off and fly away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mom said that’s where her dad was, shacked up with some goddamn bimbo half his age. Good riddance to bad rubbish, said Mom. Natalie didn’t care if Dad lived in a shack. Mom said bimbo like it was something bad, but Natalie was sure it had something to do with the circus. That’d be awesome, going to the circus whenever she wanted because Dad’s girlfriend was in the circus show.
Natalie did arithmetic in her head: if the bimbo was half Dad’s age and he was the same age as Mom, then two goes into thirty-four is seventeen. A teenager! She could be like Natalie’s older sister. Wouldn’t it be cool if the bimbo’s real name was Shannon? When Shannon wasn’t at the circus she’d tell Natalie all her secrets and then Natalie would tell her own deepest secrets to Shannon and they’d be friends forever. They could tease Dad and he’d be like, Oh, you two drive me nuts! but he wouldn’t mean it because he loved them both. Natalie pumped harder and harder and thought about Pennsylvania and what it would be like when she lived down there.
But soon her arms felt like they were catching on fire right through her parka even though the temperature was zero below. Her fingers were sore too, and tingly like an electricity shock. She remembered what they learned in school about weather and how you could catch frostbite if you stayed outdoors too long and how in a few days your fingers would turn black and fall off. Maybe her fingers had frostbites on them already, even with mittens on.
Natalie stood up. She brushed the snow from her arms and legs. She swiped a wet mitten across the frozen snot below her nose. She took a long look at the snow angel. It was really an inside-out angel, an empty hole in the snow, like an angel used to be there and then flew away. Natalie looked up and saw the angel flying high above, flapping its shiny black wings. Instead of singing some pretty church music, though, like Hallelujah or Come All Ye Fateful, or just calling out Natalie’s name in a friendly voice, the angel screamed caw, caw, caw.
Natalie felt like a total dope to mix up a dirty old crow with a beautiful angel. Maybe her brain was getting frostbite too. She headed back inside, hoping her mom was still passed out so she couldn’t yell at her for tracking snow all over the goddamn carpet.
Todd McKie is an artist and writer, staggering between canvas and keyboard, sometimes dazed, often paint-spattered, but ever grateful for the exercise. His stories have appeared in PANK, Fiction Southeast, Pithead Chapel, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and elsewhere. Todd lives in Boston and blogs sporadically at toddmckie.blogspot.com.