I chose the image of the snow-covered tree for my twenty-minute sprint this time.
Carl shivered as he slid out of bed, pushing his feet into his slippers and making his way to the window. It had only just begun to snow when they were turning in last night, but now there was a couple feet of the stuff. The big pine out back was so weighed down with snow that some of the branches were partially buried in the drifts.
It was beautiful, the pristine sparkling whiteness in the early morning light.
It was also a royal pain because he’d have to shovel enough to get the truck out of the driveway and pray that the plows came through sometime before noon so they’d be able to get out of the neighborhood. He knew they should have left yesterday.
Sighing, Carl headed for the kitchen to get the coffee brewing and breakfast started. That almost always woke everyone else up, luring them with the scent of caffeine and bacon.
Sam was the first one down, their hair sticking up every which way as they rubbed their eyes and sat down at the table.
Carl had already set out the sugar and cream along with four mugs, so when the coffee was done brewing he brought the pot to the table. Sam could be trusted to pour coffee without being fully awake, but not to carry it across a room. They had an agreement about it. Two broken carafes, two cuts that needed stitches, and one third degree burn had been more than enough.
By the time Sam had finished fixing a mug of coffee for themself as well as Carl, Valerie was wandering in. Her hair was brushed and gleaming and her pajamas were cute and coordinated. She was a bit of a fashion diva and Carl still didn’t quite understand why she wanted to live in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain, but she was a good roommate, so he wasn’t about to suggest she leave.
Carl was done putting breakfast on plates by the time Kelly came down, scratching the stubble on his head and yawning.
“It looks like getting out might be an issue,” Valerie said as they all sat down at the table together.
“I didn’t look outside,” Kelly said as he fixed his coffee.
“We got two, maybe three feet,” Carl replied. “I haven’t checked yet.”
“Weather ap said thirty-four inches,” Valerie said. “But we sometimes get more than where they measure.”
“I’ll check after breakfast,” Carl replied. They didn’t have a very scientific methodology, since drifting could happen, but they had a pole near the front porch that was marked every inch so they could know how much snow they’d gotten. Carl had put it in two years ago and just never pulled it back out. It was in one of the mulched areas, so it wasn’t even in the way when they had to mow the lawn.
“To be perfectly honest, I’m planning to use the snow as an excuse not to go,” Sam said.
“Have they been that bad?” Carl asked. Sam’s family wasn’t supportive of the non-binary thing, or Sam’s career as an artist, so Carl understood why Sam might not want to go home for the holidays.
“My brother has been in one of his evangelical moods this month,” Sam replied.
“Ouch,” Valerie said, reaching over to pat Sam’s hand.
Sam’s brother was a preacher at a non-denominational church a few hours south near where Sam’s family lived. It was a huge place and very hellfire and brimstone from what Sam had said.
“It is what it is,” Sam said with a shrug. “If anyone in the family asks I’ll tell them you left earlier and that’s why only I got trapped. I know my brother stalks you guys on social media.”
“If we got more than three feet, I’m not sure any of us are going anywhere,” Carl replied.
“My parents are actively encouraging me to stay home,” Valerie said. “They don’t even want me on a train in this apparently. It’s been even worse west of us and I haven’t even checked to see if there are train delays.”
Carl nodded. The original plan had been for Carl to get everyone off the mountain in his truck. Valerie was taking the train home, Sam had left his car in the Walmart parking lot earlier in the week, and Kelly was catching a ride with a friend in town.
They were quiet during the rest of breakfast, and Kelly was actually the first one to get up, taking his coffee with him as he went into the front room. They could all hear the door opening.
Carl shivered just thinking about how cold it must have been standing in the doorway with just the storm door for insulation.
“Well, I think we’re staying home,” Kelly said before shutting the door. “The pole’s actually in a bit of a dip and it reads forty-two inches.”
“Damn,” Carl said. That was a lot of snow to get in a single night.
“I like you lot better than my family anyway,” Sam said, toasting them with his coffee mug.
“I can do a video chat with my parents on Yule,” Valerie said. “It’ll be fine.”
“No worries,” Kelly said, patting Carl on the shoulder. “You did tell us we should have made arrangements to get off the mountain yesterday.”
“It’ll be nice to spend the holidays at home,” Carl said. He loved his family, but they were a lot. He was only going to have made the last few days of Hanukkah anyway. Now he could share traditions with his roommates. Valerie and her parents were pagan and celebrated Yule, Carl still wasn’t sure how devout Kelly was but he did celebrate Christmas, Carl was Jewish, and Sam gave everyone gifts that they called Winter Wishes, since they wanted to celebrate and share the joy of holidays with everyone but didn’t actually have a winter holiday to celebrate. It would be neat to have so many different traditions all happening in the same house.