Licton Springs Review

Snow Day By Marian Higa

Roscoe overslept that morning. Through the rush of getting his four brothers ready for school and caring for the new baby, his mother didn’t notice he was missing from the group until everyone left for school. When she did send him out the door, he took a detour to the ballpark to play in the snow for a while. He would change the time on the excuse note she’d written for him, and no one would know.

Two boys approached Roscoe as he was making the blocks for his igloo out in right field. He didn’t know their names but knew they were eighth graders in his brother’s class.

“Hey kid, what’re you making?” The boy took a long drag from a cigarette and passed it to his friend. He was tall and thin and wore a gray hooded sweatshirt under a faded denim jacket.

“Nothing, just an igloo,” said Roscoe as he packed the snow into another brick.

“That’s pretty cool. Can we help?” said the other boy, who was shorter with black hair styled in a crew cut.

Roscoe looked up at the kids and shrugged his shoulders. For the next few minutes, the three boys worked on the igloo in silence. Roscoe felt good to be with some cool kids. Maybe this’ll be a good day after all.

“Hey, let’s take a break. Want a smoke?”

“Umm,” Roscoe hesitated. Last month, Miss Porter had shown a film in health class about the harmful effects of smoking. Maybe just this once.

“Sure, why not?”

“But first, you have to take a test,” said the tall kid.

“Yeah, come over here,” said the other boy as he moved toward the chain link fence surrounding the field.

Roscoe paused then followed the boys.

“You have to touch this pole with your tongue,” said the kid with the crew cut.

“After one minute, you can have your own cig,” said the tall kid.

Maybe this is like an initiation, and then I’ll be one of them. Roscoe thought it wouldn’t hurt, that he’d be cold and uncomfortable for only a little while. Besides, he really wanted the kids to like him. If I get this over with, they might let me hang out with them the rest of the day.

Roscoe approached one of the posts of the chain link fence. He leaned toward it and stuck out the tip of his tongue. He glanced at the boys, who nodded eagerly.

“Come on kid, you can do it! We don’t have all day,” said the tall kid.

As his tongue touched the pole, the stinging cold and the sharp taste of metal sent shivers through his body. After a brief moment, he pulled his head back but his tongue was stuck firmly to the pole. He tried again, but felt a throbbing pain as he tugged. He moved his head back toward the pole.

He heard the boys laughing as they ran up the hill and out of sight. Snow started falling. His heart raced and he breathed hard. He pulled away from the pole again and felt stinging pain and saw shimmering stars before his eyes. He cried loudly, and his tears burned his cheeks.

After a couple of hours, Roscoe felt stiff from being in the same position for so long. At least he was calm again. His breathing returned to normal and he stopped crying. How much longer? I cant feel my tongue! Roscoe wiped his face with the back of his gloved hand, pulled the hood of his coat onto his head and tied it beneath his chin. The school will call, and Mama will know Im gone. Then shell call Dad. No, shes too busy with the baby to care. Nobody cares. Maybe Gypsy does, but only cause I feed her. And maybe Will, cause hell have his own room if Im gone.

It snowed harder and it was difficult to see through the large white snowflakes that fell all around him. I’ve got to keep moving so I don’t fall asleep and die like those climbers who get stranded on Mt. Everest. I have to pee! If I could just reach that rock without ripping my tongue off.

Roscoe stretched his right leg and guided a rock closer to him with his foot. He moved it up against his left leg to his knee and grabbed it with his right hand. He pounded the rock on the pole as hard as he could and tried not to turn his head. He kept hitting the pole, and felt the vibrations through his entire body. His lips were cracked and his mouth was dry, which caused him to gag and heave. He opened his mouth and tried to catch some snow.

“Roscoe! Is that you?” Roscoe strained his eyes to look toward the top of the hill, where he saw his dad in uniform, with a couple of other firefighters from the station. Dad? He heard me! It’s Dad and the guys! He pounded the rock furiously against the pole.

“Roscoe, take it easy, we see you! Stop pounding that rock and save your strength. We’re coming to get you!”

“Who did this to you, Roscoe?” asked one of the men, when they reached him. He began crying again, but no tears flowed.

“Some kids, eighth graders in Jimmy’s class, I think.” He breathed so hard he started to hiccup. Roscoe was unable to speak clearly, and the men could barely understand him.

“Roscoe, everything’s okay. Try not to talk,” said his dad as he placed his hand on his son’s shoulder. “Your mom called me down at the station after the school called when you didn’t show up. We’ve been looking for you all over town.”

It took them just over twenty minutes to free Roscoe. They poured warm water gently on the pole until his tongue was free.

He rode in an ambulance to the hospital while his dad tended to him.

“Am I in trouble? I was gonna go to school, I swear!” Roscoe’s tongue felt numb, and he could hardly speak.

“No, you’re not in trouble. We were very worried about you, and I’m just glad you’re alright,” said his father as he stroked his fingers through the boy’s hair. Roscoe smiled and shut his eyes.