They walked together in the afternoon winter sun, confident yet safe opinions of their teachers, television shows, and pop music bobbing within the flotsam and jetsam of their conversation.
“This way.” Rune took Annie’s hand, led her away from the icy sidewalk into a broad field of snow, blades of wild grass appearing above the white surface like tufts of stubble on a poorly shaved face. “Subdivision hasn’t begun selling these lots — ” he let go of her hand as he nearly fell in the deep snow — “we can cut across, to my house.” Their legs plunging with each step up to their knees, but Annie seemed to enjoy the effort as much as he did.
Two pairs of snowprints, leading from the field through the back of the yard, around the house and up to the front steps. Rune grunted with pleasure when he saw the sun had already melted that morning’s snowfall on the driveway and front steps. “No shoveling.” And the garage door was closed, neither of his parents was home early.
“You don’t have someone come plow for you?” Annie sounded confused.
“Not unless it’s real bad.” He retrieved keys from a chest pocket on his jacket. “My dad pays this guy by the push.” Turned the key in the lock. “But he doesn’t like to do it, says we need to watch our budget.”
He pushed the front door open, stomped snow from his boots before walking into the house. The boot bench to the left was covered with jackets, sweaters, scarves; Rune swept his arm across, clearing the bench, winter clothing scattering across the tiled floor of the entry. He sat, slid across the bench, patted the empty space to his right with his hand. Annie sat quickly, and moments later they had left their heavy boots and bulky jackets behind them, as they walked into the kitchen.