Yancy climbed into the backseat of his car, slipping off his tattered vans before contorting himself through the gap of the two front seats and sliding in behind the steering wheel. Outside the snow continued to fall, but Yancy couldn’t see it from inside the cocooned vehicle. His breath appeared before him like trails of steam, and he smiled, transported back to frozen mornings before school, waiting at the end of his driveway for the bus to come. He would huff and puff, blow out his cheeks so hard they would crack in the bone-dry cold, sending out tendrils of smoke into the air from his dragon maw.
Yancy sighed, breath condensing on the windshield. The engine tumbled into life, the defroster coming on with a roar. From his apartment it was only five miles to work, but in this mess it might as well have been fifty. He was going to be late.
With one hand bracing himself against the wheel, he tucked in his arm and slammed his shoulder into the driver’s side door. The fresh snow fell away from the window, leaving behind the ice that had sealed the door shut. He rammed the door again and it gave an inch, letting in a burst of wind that took Yancy’s breath away.
He couldn’t remember the last time he had been out in cold like this. His arm ached. He rubbed at his shoulder, where a bruise was sure to form later.
Sam Hunter. The name popped into his mind like a wound spring snapping. That day in fifth grade, a week before Christmas Vacation. It had snowed for hours the night before, but school wasn’t canceled in Montana over a few feet of snow. Sam had met Yancy at the end of his driveway, dragging his sled behind him. It was the first and last day Yancy had ever played hooky; he’d been grounded all vacation when his mom found out.
Sitting in his frozen car, Yancy smiled again. It had been worth it though. Hadn’t it?
Heaving himself against the car door one last time, it swung open with a crack like thunder. He stared out into the landscape of soft white, watching some kids who had doubtless snuck out of their apartments, making the first snowman of the year. Their laughter was muffled, joy fighting through the cotton ice.
Shutting off the car, Yancy stepped out into the snow, kicking up the soft powder and puffing his dragon smoke into the air. Twenty years were a long time to go without a snow day.
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