The top layer of the snowpack in had melted in an hour of bright afternoon sunlight, then froze quickly as the temperature dropped at dusk. Rune’s boots crunched through the thin icy surface, his legs pushing deep into the snow underneath from the force. It was difficult walking, the trailing leg unable to bend at the knee until it was almost completely free, and he knew the direction he was headed, down and into the woods east of his family’s house, would likely be more difficult. He lurched along, crunchily and determined.
Hearing a sound behind him, he twisted, looked back up the slight incline to the house. No car in the garage. But the brief glance at the front door sparked a warning in his mind, did he have a key? He normally didn’t carry one, but with his mother out all day for his brother’s hockey game, there was no way of knowing when the garage door would be open. And yes, he could always ring the doorbell, his father would let him in. Right.
He took off the glove on his right hand, searched through the pockets of his down jacket, switching quickly to his left hand a moment later — felt something rub against his left chest, unzipped his jacket half-way, reached into the interior pocket, and sighed.
The memory came back to him now. Shoveling a bowl of oatmeal into his mouth, pacing between the refrigerator and kitchen table, his equipment bag lying on the floor next to the garage door. His mother hadn’t said anything to him, had just thrust the key into his hand like it was an unwanted present, and he’d slid it into the pocket he had just searched almost without thinking, his focus entirely on finishing his breakfast before Coach Dan arrived to take him to the fencing tournament. Which had turned out to be much like the tournament from earlier in the month.