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Katelyn Vandersteen

There is something so eerie and beautiful about winter. The air is cold and clear. So cold it hurts to breathe, and your nostrils stick together. Any visible skin aches from the wind. 

That’s why I’m all geared up. Winter coat, good for -40. Two pairs of pants with new winter boots. A hat to cover the forehead, head, and ears. A scarf to cover my neck and the bottom half of my face. Two layers of gloves, a thin black pair under a thicker red one. The only part of me that is visible is my eyes and the skin around them. 

All wintered up, I leave the house with the dog. Into the woods, we go where I let her off the leash. The dog goes tearing off, bouncing through the snow in delight. The cold doesn’t bother her one bit. Meanwhile, I have my chin tucked into my chest to get the scarf up as high as possible.

The snow is loud, crunching under my feet. Each step echoes in the forest. The trees are all covered with a layer of white and sparkle in the light. Said light is fading fast. Night comes quickly in the winter. My dog is nowhere to be seen but she should return soon. A big black dog against white snow means she will be easy to spot. 

The snow is soft and flaky. Not good for snowballs or snowmen. My glasses have fogged up and now, naturally, they have frozen over. It makes everything hard to see. Not that there was much to see in the first place. The sun has set completely so everything is dark. Except for the snow which still shines brilliantly white.

I dread going home. I will have to take each piece of winter clothing off and my hair will be a massive staticky mess. 

Opening my mouth to call the dog I hesitate. Something stops me. The world stands still. The only sound is my breathing, even the wind has stopped. No sounds, just me, where is the dog? I am gripped with fear. Suddenly this white wonderland seems a lot more menacing. Vicious barking erupts from behind me almost making me scream. I can move again, and I whip around. A little way behind me something darts between trees. I can’t get a good look, but it was much larger than a human. With the darkness and my frosted glasses, I can’t make out details, but I don’t know that I want any. I’m already going to have nightmares. 

The barking stops and my dog comes trotting back. She is liberally covered in snow. Most likely rolled in it and she seems very happy with herself. I drop to my knees and let out a sound that’s somewhere between a giggle and a sob.

“Good girl,” I say and wrap my arms around her in a hug. “Good girl,” I repeat and press my face into her cold fur. “Let’s go home.”

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