Please, Mr. Snowman

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic
Mr. Snowman waits

Submitted: April 12, 2013

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Submitted: April 12, 2013

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Jake and John were sitting next to each other at the veranda while their Uncle Harold tried his best to pack up the two’s things.

“Do you remember her?” John asked. Jake knew John was talking of their mother.

Jake looked at John, they shared the same shade of brown hair. He then looked away, did not answer.

“Not at all?” John asked again.

“She left us, John,” Jake replied plainly.

John sighed as he whispered something like ‘I know’ under his breath.

Jake looked across the road, covered with inches thick of snow. He was five when their mother walked out of the house door for the last time.

“I can’t take this anymore!” his mother yelled, crying. “Pauline…,” his father sat at the dining table, silenced. Jake’s mother walked into her room, slamming the door behind her and came out moments later with her luggage. She walked through the dining area, walked pass his father, walked pass John who was still too young to understand what happened, walked pass Jake who stood near the door looking at the woman. She did not turn her head, nor did she close the door. She took her step out of the door, still sobbing madly and walked along the street. Jake remembered how her figure casted shadow behind her as everything else remained silence. Jake turned to his father, the man still drunk from God-knows how much alcohol he had the night before. Looking upon the opened door and the leaving wife, his father did nothing – absolutely nothing.

Years had passed; Jake and John grew up under his father’s care. They never heard from their mother since then, nor did they dare to ask anything about mother in front of their father. Jake saw his father, a man who drank a lot before his mother left, turning into a shabby drunkard whom Jake thought has no right to be called a man. He saw everything with his own eyes, but he did not comment nor did he complain. Along John’s life, Jake took up the responsibility to make sure the family was still running. He told himself he must be strong to care of John. He wanted John to at least have a better life, a life untainted from the past.

With his mere age, Jake took up several small jobs to cover up the expenses his father will never be able to work for. Their life was not pitiful; it was just hard-earned. There was one winter, when John was upset over being laughed at for having a broken family. He sat outside in the cold for hours, until Jake came back from his job at the local mart.

“What’s the matter?” Jake asked.

“Nothing,” John said with red eyes, “just sad. I don’t understand why we have a family like that.”

“Anything wrong with me?”

“You know perfectly well what I mean.”

“John,” Jake replied softly with a smile, “I don’t know why our father and mother are like that. I really don’t know. But I do know if I try hard enough, you and me, might have a chance to have a life we wanted to have.”

“Like how hard you are trying now? All those work and stuff?”

“Yes,” Jake smiled. He looked at the ground thick with snow and thought of something to cheer his little brother up. “Tell you what, why not we build a snowman.”

“It’s boring.”

“You’re not quite right there, John. Snowman is a representation of patience through tough condition while waiting for a better tomorrow. Look at how they stand in the cold, waiting for spring to come and they melt and evaporated to be reunited with their fellows in the sky.”

“You are trying to be geeky, aren’t you?”

Jake laughed at what he had just said and John laughed. Without any waiting, they started to pile their first snowman together. They named it Mr Snowman.

That was their Snowman secret.

***

“Jake?” John asked, with his feet kicking the whitish ground.

“Hmm?”

“Before we part, maybe we can have our snowman, like how we used to do?” John said.

Jake nodded. They slowly waded across the thick snow towards the spot where they had spent their previous years building their snowman. Their family has pretty much nothing to look forward to during each Christmas. They are grateful enough to have food on the table on a cold night and gleeful enough to have enough snow to pile their snowman each year. They were simple Christmases, but they were irreplaceable.

John started the pile, just like any other year, but more skillful. Jake watched at his younger brother and smiled a little as he joined in the fun by transporting more and more snow to form Mr. Snowman’s body. As John patted the snow on Mr. Snowman’s body, everything started to become blurry.

“John?” Jake said softly, not knowing what else he should say.

“I’m fine,” John replied. But his tears were rolling down like streams. He wiped his tears away as he continued to pile up the head of Mr. Snowman. Jake was looking at his brother every now and then. His heart was heavy but he can’t cry. He knew he can’t. He did not say a thing as he looked upon the boy who was so scared of leaving the only place he called home, just like how the man did not say a thing when his wife left, just like how the younger John watched as his mother marched down the path, leaving them forever. He wondered why do all the partings had to happened here – a sad place.

John’s whimper, however, did not subside. As the two were completing the features of the Mr. Snowman, he began to sob really hard. “I’m okay,” he sobbed, “I’m okay.” And he dropped down on the ground, kneeling next to Mr. Snowmen, crying really hard. Jake looked at John sadly.  “Let’s hope we will be able to come back one day,” Jake said.

Jake felt his own tears were on the brim of oozing out of their glands, but he looked down the street, stopping them to advance further. He needed to be strong, especially now. He took off his scarf, and placed it around Mr. Snowman’s neck.

“Here,” Jake said, “Take this scarf later when you leave. Remember I told you how snowmen weathered through hardships and waited with patience till the better days?”

John nodded.

“Mr. Snowman will be the waiting messenger for us. I am yet to know where exactly I will be brought to, John. I will try to contact you again, but in case – in case it didn’t work, place this scarf over Mr. Snowman and let’s hope it finds what it is waiting for one day.” Jake looked at the scarf and smiled. He closed his eyes as he mumbled silently, “Please, Mr. Snowman, help us to find each other one day. Please.”

John closed his eyes and said something but Jake could not hear it. They spent the next few minutes sitting silently next to Mr. Snowman, wondering what future will lead them after they part.

***

“C’mon, kids,” Uncle Harold called softly from the front of the house. He looked sad. In fact, he felt sad to see the two going to be separated, right before Christmas. If he was capable enough, he would have requested for custody for the two, but his financial status was simply not helping the case. “I’ve packed most of the things you two might need – err – perhaps there is anything else you really want to bring along – err – to your new home,” Uncle Harold gulped. The sensation he felt when he mentioned about new home was not at all pleasant. He and the two’s father had moved to a new home once, after their parents died of some accident in their workplace, that was a terrible memory for him. He shuddered as he thought of his old experience.

Jake and John shook their head. The only thing they wished to bring to their new home was the only thing they can’t bring, their brother. They gave each other a last hug.

That was the last thing they did together that day.

Jake was immediately sent to community home while John remained with Uncle Harold. It was a pain for Harold to pick one out of the two due to circumstances, but he decided John might have needed more care from what he knew about the boy for years. But the chapter ended just like that.

***

“John,” Jake gasped as he woke up from his sleep a year later. It was, again, Christmas. Staying in a community home was not at all bad, in Jake’s opinion. He could fit in quite well and he made several new friends, but nothing quite like his relationship with John. Out of the many, there were a few siblings who were staying in the home together. Jake always wondered what it would be like if John had followed him here as well, but it was all just a prediction.

But this year was different.

That was the very year Jake was taken away. A woman came and asked for Jake. He walked down the staircase with his small case of belongings, wondered who the kind family who wanted to adopt him was. Standing right in front of the staircase, was a woman Jake recognized. She was the woman who walked pass him years ago, who left his home and his life – long long time ago.

“Jake?” the woman said softly as she saw him.

Jake stood still, “Why do you come back?” Jake said.

The woman came and gave him a hug, “I’m sorry for leaving that time, Jake. I just could not take it anymore. I promise I will not leave you and your brother anymore, just that –.”

It would not be easy to forgive someone who left you and your life devastated and came back for you, but Jake did it with dignity. He did not complain, nor did he comment. It seemed that it was just in Jake of how he could take all these craziness in, even at his age. He decided to be his mother’s son a second time.

It turned out his mother was living quite well now after meeting his stepfather. He was not an alcoholic, but one who put family before everything. When he knew of his wife’s son in her previous marriage, he was the one who asked to bring the boys back. Jake decided his mother was just too depressed of the whole situation years ago when she left. At least that would make his life feels better. Even after he joined in the family, the three of them were trying their best to find John. They tried contacted Uncle Harold but his phone was not working. They went to his house but he moved and no one seemed to know of his whereabout.

Then one day, Jake thought of something.

***

“John?” Jake yelled the moment he arrived at the street his old home used to stand. The house was occupied, with lights glowing out from the window.

In front of the doorstep, at the front yard, stood a snowman – with a scarf, THE scarf.

Jake ran towards the house, wondering if anyone had seen his brother, the boy who shared the same shade of hair as his. He yelled again, “John!” He walked nearer to the snowman and realized it looked the same as their Mr. Snowman. John must have piled this up, knowing I would one day return, Jake thought. He looked around, still panting from his runs, hoping to see someone who looked familiar but there was none.

“Mr. Snowman,” Jake looked up to the snowman, noticing he was now as tall as the snowman, “Please, Mr. Snowman, tell me where John is.”

“I know he should be somewhere,” Jake panted, “Right? Tell me please, Mr. Snowman.” He sounded stupid, talking to a pile of snow, but he did not care.

There was a sound from the house. Jake turned. Someone opened the door and a figure walked out slowly. Greyed hair, the man looked exactly like how he looked like several years before. “Uncle… Uncle Harold?” Jake wondered.

“J-Jake?”

Jake nodded as he smiled. His arms were waving towards Mr. Snowman, “I – I just came back, to see - to see my old home and find out if John came back. And you are here!” Jake patted the scarf on Mr. Snowman, “He’s here, isn’t he? John, I mean, he followed you.”

“Yeah,” Uncle Harold sighed, “He’s here, Jake – he will always be here, Jake…” Uncle Harold’s face was suddenly changed to a grieved look. Jake sensed something was wrong.

“You didn’t send him away as well, did you?” Jake asked loudly, having no idea how mad he would be if he was right.

Uncle Harold, on the other hand, was shaking his head very softly as he walked towards Mr. Snowman. “He missed you a lot, Jake.”

“Every year, he would build a snowman outside our house, Mr. Snowman he called him. I have to admit I failed to cheer him up. I gave him what I could, school, food, dailies – I tried to do my best to give him what a normal father could give to their son. But after all these years, I realized I can’t give him back his brother.”

“When I know John really do need you to grow up with him, I tried to contact the home, hoping I could get you two together or just a chance to meet each other again. But they said you were taken away by –.”

“My mother,” Jake said, “John’s and mine. She found out somehow about father and she came to find us, but she only found me.”

“Yes,” Uncle Harold nodded with Jake’s explanation and turned to Mr. Snowman, “And we missed the chance. John still continued his snowman piling every year, so consistent that I have learned to pile the same snowman as he did. It was the year before last when the Christmas was harsh. He insisted he wanted to build Mr. Snowman for the year. Stupid, was what I called him, but he went out alright.” Uncle Harold started to shiver, “But he’s just a child…”

“What happened to him?” Jake asked, “Tell me, what happened to John?” His heart might have skipped a few beats, because he knew something happened, something bad. He wished it was nothing serious, but he just wanted to make sure.

“Pneumonia, he caught it after that. And he was hospitalized – thought that medical might help a bit.” Uncle Harold looked at Mr. Snowman with terrible grief in his eyes. Never did he thought the child he chose to give care, ended up the way it had, “but he passed weeks after that and made me promise to bury him there, under Mr. Snowman. Every year, I would build Mr. Snowman as he told – with that scarf. He said this is how you two will meet. I guess he meant it.”

Jake listened to Uncle Harold, heart was pumping very fast and he thought he could hear John whispered to Mr. Snowman, “Let us meet again, someday. Please, Mr. Snowman.”

By that, he dropped down on the floor, kneeling in front of Mr. Snowman, where John had years ago and he cried out all those tears he would have shed all those years.

***

On the last day of John’s life, it was a Christmas Eve. He knew he would not make it through the night. He asked Uncle Harold to do him a favour, let him out to Mr. Snowman for one more time. The snow storm had just passed and everything was calm. Uncle Harold said ‘yes’ as he looked at John’s weak figure. The doctor had asked them to return home for the season, because there was not much he could do any longer. John’s body did not seem to put in any effort in fighting it. Shaking away the thought, he helped John out and put a little stool beside Mr. Snowman just so John could sit there.

“Uncle Harold, thanks for the care you gave all these years,” John said weakly, “Could you do one more thing for me?”

“Say it, my son.”

“After I’m gone, bury me somewhere here and build me Mr. Snowman every winter, if that’s not too much to ask for.”

Uncle Harold cried. He nodded, trying to wipe away his tears.

“Then, Jake will be able to find me,” John whispered. He turned to Mr Snowman, closed his eyes and whispered, “Please, Mr. Snowman.”

That was how a boy named John died.


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