“I don’t know if I can do this, Joe.”
“Just relax, Bob, you’re fine,” reassured Joe Snowflake. “Remember, we’ve trained for this. You were the third ranked jumper in the fleet.”
Bob Snowflake didn’t feel like the third ranked jumper in the fleet. He felt doubt and apprehension. After all, it was a long way down.
Turning to his best friend, a snowflake he’d known his whole life (approximately twelve hours) he forced a smile and nodded.
“What the heck, right? Can’t stay in the clouds forever, can we?”
“There’s the snowflake I know!” Joe exclaimed, slapping his companion heartily on the back.
“Twenty seconds to jump!” came the tinny voice over the loudspeaker.
Joe stared directly into Bob’s eyes.
“It’s time!” he yelled over the bustle in the launch hanger. “Let’s do this!”
Bob swallowed hard and stood. The butterflies swirling around in his stomach felt more like fire-breathing dragons. His mind was consumed with the only mantra that he could muster.
“Please don’t let me vomit, please don’t let me vomit, please don’t let me vomit…”
The loud clang of the hanger doors startled Bob, even though he had anticipated them. Everything was moving too fast. Snowflakes were rushing around, shouting and preparing for the Jump. Bob’s head swirled as disorientation muddled his mind.
Someone reached out and tugged him into the line. Joe’s stupid grinning face was inches from his.
“This is it, buddy! We’re finally doing it. Whaddya think you’ll end up doing at the bottom? Snowman? Snowballs? Heck, give me a nice tree branch with a view and I’ll just chill. Wooo!”
“I… uh…” Bob began, not knowing how to respond.
The loudspeaker cut in.
“And jump in 3… 2… 1… GO!”
Suddenly the wind was rushing past him. The steel grey of the cloud was gone and Bob was airborne. The chill in the air was exhilarating and he chanced a glance downward. Below him a vast expanse of real estate stretched out, divided into uneven chunks like a massive quilt. Forests and farmlands covered the Earth. The wind whipped him around and he surfed the currents of the stratosphere with practiced ease.
“Wooooo!” he cried triumphantly.
As he tumbled downward his fear abandoned him and he was left with a euphoria so profound it almost felt like a spiritual awakening. He couldn’t understand why he’d ever felt apprehension in the first place. He was born for this!
Scanning the snowflakes around him, he spotted Joe. His friend must have been experiencing the same exaltation, judging by the massive grin on his face. Bob angled his body so that he drifted closer to his companion.
“Isn’t this amazing?” Joe screamed over the roaring of the wind.
“Unbelievable! I feel like we’re gonna live forever!” shouted Bob.
The Earth was looming closer.
“The best part is still to come!” yelled Joe. “Ready to stick the landing?”
“Hey, who’s the third ranked jumper in the fleet?” returned Bob smugly. “I’m going for a perfect 10!”
“Race you there!” grinned Joe.
The wind shifted direction and separated the two friends. Bob was swept to the northeast which pulled him off course. He could see Joe shouting something to him but he was too far away to hear. The two snowflakes continued drifting farther apart and Bob now saw Joe gesturing wildly and pointing downwards. Bob knew something was wrong but was unable to stop it. A powerful down draft launched him wildly off kilter and he tumbled chaotically. The ground and sky kept interchanging so much Bob lost all bearings.
“No no no!” he screamed in his head. This wasn’t right. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. He tried desperately to right himself, to pull out of his dive at the last minute. He was so consumed with twisting and contorting his body that he never saw the headlights.
His last thoughts were of snowmen and all the plans he and Joe had made once they reached the surface. Those dreams vanished the moment Bob hit the windshield. His crystalline body broke apart and melted as the windshield wiper casually swept his watery corpse to the side.
“Wow, it’s really coming down,” commented Larry Parkinson to his wife Maureen as holiday music piped quietly out of the Toyota’s stereo speakers.
“Oh gosh yes, isn’t it lovely?” she remarked with childlike wonder on her face.
“I’m so glad we’re getting a white Christmas this year. The kids will be thrilled.”
The car drove through the storm on the way to grandma’s house.