Hey, so here’s my story for the winter edition of the school newspaper. I was a little short on time, but I got it done.

Plotline completely different from what I intended hehe

The firecracker launched into the sky, exploding in a burst of vibrant color. I  struck the match and turned to light the second one. “Hurry up, Leona. We still have another six to fire.”

Leona handed me another firecracker and I centered it on the wooden stick that I had driven into the cold, hard ground. I struck the match against the coal piece once more and held the dancing flame against the frayed end of the rope. “Step back, Leona,” I warned, pushing the young girl away from the blast.

Leona and I watched the sky light up once more. “Do you think they’ll see it?” Leona asked me as I readied the next one.

“They have to,” I said firmly. “They won’t just leave us here.”

Leona’s silence echoed every doubt in my mind.

I finally launched the last firecracker and stepped back, dousing the lit match in the snow. Leona huddled with me in the snow and I curled up around her to keep her warm. We lay there for a while, listening to the quiet of the frozen night broken occasionally by a gust of howling wind. After a while, the predicted blizzard arrived, piling snow around us, but we were too despaired and cold to sit up and shift it away.

It began to enclose us, blocking out the silver moonlight, before I finally shoved a bit of it aside so we wouldn’t suffocate from lack of oxygen. It was thick and heavy, and I tried not to panic before my fingers broke the surface.

I heard a small sob and looked down at Leona. “They’re not coming, are they?” she whispered softly, her voice breaking a little as fast-freezing tears ran down her face. “We’ll be stuck here forever.”

“We won’t,” I told her determinedly. “We won’t be snowed in. They’ll come. Just you wait.” I repeated it over and over again, trying to convince myself as well. “They’ll come.”

We waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Nobody came.

I heard the crunch of boots over the snow, surprisingly loud to be heard over the storm. I bolted straight up, scattering the pile of snow above us, and glanced around hastily for our rescuer.

I couldn’t see anyone.

“Hello?” I called out. “Hey, if there’s anyone there, please help! My little sister and I are freezing to death!”

There was no reply.

I sat down again and curled up around Leona. For a horrifying moment I thought she had died, but no, she was shivering a little, and her breathing was faint. I nudged her. “Leona. Wake up.”

She didn’t move.

“Leona!” I shook her urgently. “Wake up!” I was terrified she’d die in her sleep.

She didn’t move.

“No!” I shrugged off my thick jacket, exposing myself to the cold, but I didn’t care. I tucked it around her and zipped it up, bundling her in something warmer than her thin sweater.

I lifted her up in my arms and began to walk, holding her. “Please stay alive,” I whispered as I trudged through the thick snow.

Before long I was shivering, the cold penetrating me right to the bone. Everything was a white blur, the sky an inky black, but I could no longer tell the difference. However, I still forced myself to keep going, one after another.

Leona’s eyes flickered open. “M-mom?” she whispered, her blue lips barely moving. “Is th-that you?”

“No, Leona,” I murmured, pulling up the hood over her face. “It’s me, your sister.”

“Oh.” She curled up in the jacket. “I’m cold.”

“I know.” I hugged her close. “We’re going to safety.” I hope.

I could now see a smudge on the distant horizon, and a faint hope sparked in me. Maybe we could get there in time.

But maybe not.

I staggered along in the snow for hours. By now I was as cold as Leona was, but I couldn’t give up just yet. I had almost reached the path to the town.

Suddenly I stumbled, pitching forward into the snow. Leona tumbled from my arms as I laid in the snow, winded, unable to stand. I was numb from head to toe, the cold dulling all my senses; it took all my willpower just to stay awake.

Finally I mustered enough strength to crawl over to Leona. She was breathing, but slowly and faintly. “Leona?” I whispered again.

I could see the soft glint of her turquoise eyes peering up at me. “I’ll see you later,” she breathed, and was still.

“Leona,” I sobbed, kneeling beside her. “No.”

I remained there until morning dawned, the pale light of day falling upon me as I mourned.

The man revved his snowmobile and churned through the snow, skimming over the surface. It was time for his daily rounds, and now he skipped over the icy path, searching for stragglers caught in last night’s snowstorm.

He slowed as he came to two girls: one, lying in the snow, clearly dead, and the teenage girl, kneeling over her, obviously grieving for the other. A mother stood behind, holding the hands of two girls who appeared identical to those in the snow; all three were watching sadly.

He climbed out of the seat, then froze. He could’ve sworn the mother and the two girls were there, but no longer, and there were no footprints to suggest they’d ever been.

He crouched beside the kneeling girl and tapped her on the shoulder. No response.

He decided she must still be numb with grief or cold, noticing her coat was tucked around the dead girl. Shrugging off his own, he bundled her in it and picked up the dead girl’s body, draping her over the second seat.

He held out a hand to the grieving girl. When she didn’t take it, he gripped her by the shoulders and stood her up.

Her blank eyes stared through him.

With a shock, he realized what had happened. He sat her next to her dead sister, clambered back in front of the handlebars, and turned back to town.

Behind him, the mother and her two daughters watched with longing. Then, the mother gripped both daughters’ pale hands and led them in the opposite direction.

They ascended into the sky.