Willow Lake Press
by Timothy Elder © 1997
Snows of winter I go to Littleton Elementary School which is in the state of Colorado, outside the city of Denver. This past winter it was really cold. A lot of people died in the snow. But that’s not what I want to tell you about.

My Dad is in the defense industry so we moved around from job to job quite often. My Dad says companies will get a lot of work, hire hundreds of people, finish the work and let everyone go home. My Dad calls it “getting fired,” but I don't like the way that sounds.

There was this kid that lived across the street named Timmy Reynolds. He sure was lucky. His Mom was always so nice to him. She would make him sandwiches at lunch time and even cut off the crust of his bread. Those sandwiches sat on his plate like two little snow-white icebergs with peanut butter and jelly.

His Mom, Mrs. Reynolds, would then shoo me away so Timmy would not be disturbed while he was eating. But I knew better.

Mrs. Reynolds wanted to sit with her little boy, Timmy, and talk to him and find out what fun things he had done that Saturday morning. She was a swell Mom.

You would think that Timmy would be a really rotten kid being spoiled by his Mom, but that wasn’t so. Sometimes he would get into trouble for stuff like crossing the big street at the end of our block or tracking mud into the house or not coming in the house when it started to get dark.

One time Timmy and I crossed the big street. We looked both ways like we had been told. We only stayed for a few minutes. There was this kid at the end of the next block who had a cat that had kittens and we wanted to see.

When we got back Timmy’s Mom was mad. She started talking really loud, not yelling exactly, but loud. Her voice got all high and kind of sad. I was pretty sure I knew why she was so sad when she was mad. It’s because of Timmy’s new Dad or actually because of his old Dad.

Timmy's old Dad went away to do police work someplace on the other side of Hawaii, one of our fifty states. It was a place called Korea. I saw it on television. And he never came back.

I didn’t know him but Timmy talked about him sometimes. Timmy said he was O.K., but his Mom likes his new Dad a lot better. I have seen her smile big and show her teeth, which makes her look really pretty, when he comes home from the plant.

Timmy's new Dad works where my Dad works, I think. All the Dads around here work at the plant. I don't know why other Dads get to come home at night and mine doesn't.

When my Dad used to say he was going to the plant I would get this made-up picture in my head of him walking through a door that was at the bottom of a giant sunflower stalk. I know, that’s silly. A plant is a bunch of building where they make stuff like airplanes and bombs.

I think the reason Mrs. Reynold was so sad when she was mad at Timmy was because she was afraid that Timmy might go away on the other side of Hawaii and never come back again like his old Dad. Not because she missed Timmy’s old Dad who went away. It's just she really likes Timmy.

She wore herself out being mad and was quiet. Then she scooped Timmy up in her arms and said something like “Oh, Timmy. I love you so much. I just want you to be safe. So please, for Mommy, please don’t cross the big street without me. O.K. honey?” Timmy would hug her back and say that he loved her too and would never cross the big street without her ever, ever again.

“I promise,” he said.

At first I was really surprised when I saw Mrs. Reynolds hugging on Timmy like that. I’d never seen anything like it before except on television. I told Timmy I had to go home and ran away as fast as I could so they wouldn’t see me crying.

The next day was Sunday. There was still a lot of snow on the ground and it was cold, but the sky was such a beautiful blue color. You could see clouds way up high that floated like wings. I stayed outside most of that day. My Mom was watching television again.

Usually, if there was a movie on television, my Mom would watch it and talk to the television. Not like saying the same words with the people on the television like we did in church that morning. It was more like my Mom was trying to get their attention by telling them not to do such and such or to “Look out behind you!”, or “How could you?” I don’t get it.

Last Thanksgiving I was watching a movie on television with my Dad, who was home that day, and my Mom and sister. It was about these men who wore dresses and hit each other with swords. It wasn’t that scary until one of the men fell down and the other one took a stick that was on fire and shoved it right into the other guy's face who was on the ground and held it there.

It was so awful I held my Slinky in front of my eyes, but I could still see the flames through it and I screamed. My Dad just laughed and told me not to be scared. He explained how it was make believe and that the man was not really hurt at all.

He said that there was a place far away over the mountains (on this side of Hawaii, I looked on a map) where people made movies and pretended all sorts of things. He explained how in the movies cowboys weren’t shooting real guns at each other. And when one of them fell off their horse it was a trick to make it look real.

When the commercial was over and the movie came back on he showed me that the men were not really hitting each other with swords. They did come close. He said if one of those swords really hit you all your insides would fall out. He was right. I had never seen anyone’s insides fall out on television.

And then the man that got his face burned was on and my Dad pointed and said that the burn on his face looked like it was about to fall off because they forgot to glue it on right. And he was right. That’s exactly how it looked. We laughed then. And my sister laughed too. We were having a fun time. My Mom didn’t laugh. She just looked at the television.

So I was all better when it came to things that happen on television. I know now it was all made-up. Since my Mom was in the room when my Dad explained about television I thought that she would know it was make-believe, too. My sister knew it was made-up. But my Mom still talked to the television, mostly when my Dad goes away.

At first I thought my Mom wanted to go to the place where they made movies and get a job. Maybe she wanted to get in pretend sword fights or be a cowboy and shoot a gun or even to play-like fall off a horse. My Dad always says “If you want a job you have to go where the work is.”

But for the last few weeks I’m starting to think that she doesn’t want to be in the movies like getting a job in the movies. I think that she wants to be in the movies like she was a made-up person who was only real when the television was on. I think that’s creepy.

So I stayed outside all day. It was very cold most of the day but I kept warm by jumping up and down. My sister used to stay out here with me but lately its been too cold. Now she stays in the closet under a pile of clothes.

The sun was going down. I knew I was going to have to go in for supper soon. My Mom said that my Dad wouldn’t be home for a long, long time, this time. I thought it would be nice if I didn’t have to go in ever again.

I saw on television the night before that some people in a family didn’t come home one night. They were still being looked for.

I said, “Mom, what happened to those people?”

She said, “It’s O.K. They probably fell asleep in the snow.”

“Wouldn’t that hurt? My fingers always hurt when they get really cold,” I asked.

“No,” she slowly said, “no, it only hurts at first and then you go to sleep.”

It was so cold. I was hurting now. I had to stop jumping because I couldn't feel my toes. I was really tired.

I was starting to think that maybe my Mom was right. Maybe it would be better to be a made-up person. A made-up person like on television. They probably never got cold or tired or hungry. They never lived in a closet under a pile of clothes or went away and didn't come back.

Made-up people are probably a lot like the people that get jobs making movies on television. But I bet sometime when they fall off horses the movie people get scraped up. That would hurt. So being made-up would be better. Then you wouldn't ever get hurt.

I thought that maybe being a made-up person would not be so bad. I went over to the end of the patio. The sun was low. Places where the snow dipped down looked soft like the purple velvet I had seen that morning in church. I was going to lie down in the soft snow.

The snow was so pretty I didn’t want to hurt it. I carefully stepped backwards off the patio on to the snow. I then squatted, rocked back on my heels and sat down with my legs straight. I then crossed my arms on my chest and laid back. I wasn’t cold at all.

I thought that since I was lying there I would make a snow angel. I didn’t think God would mind if I made a snow angel. I stretched out my arms and laid them back in the snow and moved them up and down to make my angel’s wings. I was so tired.

Asleep in the snow I was starting to get light-headed when I remember wishing I was a made-up person. Before I fell asleep I decide who it was I wanted to be. Really, I had known all along who I wished I was. I could hardly move my lips they were so cold, but I did and I said, “I wish I were Timmy.”

And then I couldn’t remember anything else.

When I woke up I could smell breakfast cooking. It smelled just like the store named “Mom’s Home Cooking” I would walk past with my Mom and sister on our way to church. I knew I must be making things up again, but I didn’t want to open my eyes.

Then I heard Mrs. Reynolds. I sat up and she was standing there asking me if I was hungry. I said yes and she gave me a big hug.

“You had given us quite a night last night, didn’t you,” she said. “Your Daddy and I thought we might have to take you to the hospital,” and she left the room.

I was thinking that my Dad must have come home early from being away. He must of found me in the snow, but I don’t know why he would bring me over here to Timmy’s house. Maybe there had been a storm or something. Last summer there was a storm with lightning. Our house got flooded so we had to stay in a motel until my Dad came back.

Timmy's mom came into the room with a tray of food and she let me sit in bed and eat. We talked and laughed and had a great time. Even though I would have to cross over the street again soon, I thought this breakfast with Mrs. Reynolds was the best I ever had. If I could stay here all day it would be the best day I ever had.

Mrs. Reynolds took the tray back to the kitchen. I looked over at the night table where Timmy kept his clock. It was eleven a.m. I guess I really did sleep late!

When Mrs. Reynolds returned she looked very sad.

“There is something I have to tell you. You’ve had a fever now for three days. The doctor came by each day to check on you and told us that with enough sleep, you would be fine.”

“I feel great, really I do,” I said.

Mrs. Reynolds went on, “But I have some unhappy news to tell you and there is no use putting it off.”

She paused for a moment. “Your know that sad little boy that lived across the street?”

I didn’t know who she was talking about. Timmy lives across the street from me and he is always happy.

“I’m so sorry to tell you this because you used to play with him, but he was found in his back yard under the snow last night. The police said he was found by one of the neighborhood dogs. He had been there for about two or three days.”

Mrs. Reynolds suddenly reach across and hugged me very tight. She was crying and it made me cry, too.

She said, “I’m so glad you’re my little boy. I don’t want anything to ever happen to you. I’ll never let you ever be sad or lay out in the snow or go to war and get killed. You are my darling little boy and your Daddy and I will always take good care of you. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” I said and I was really crying then.

“You won’t ever lay out in the snow will you?” she ask.

“No, I never will,” I said.

I clutched on to her even tighter and I cried and cried because I knew that my wish had come true. I made-up a whole new person named Timmy and it was me. I don’t know if I was crying because I was happy or that I felt bad because the old Timmy went away. But I didn’t care. I was going to be the best Timmy that Mrs. Reynolds, that my Mom, ever knew.

The End

Well, this is the end of the story. I know our assignment was to write about fiction but this is all I could think of. If this story is not so good then I will write an even better one for you and make up some really good stuff this time.

Please don’t worry about Timmy’s grades. I know they've been down since the fever. But I feel much better now. I’m a lot happier and school doesn’t seem as hard as it used to. I will get the grades back to A’s before Easter.

I promise.
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