Jonas closed his eyes and waited for the impact of the snow, but none came. His eyes fluttered with the tiny snowflakes on his lashes. Jonas held Gabe tightly, letting the heat from his body soak into the baby’s. As the sled slid to a stop, Jonas stiffly climbed out, clutching Gabe to his chest. He squinted through the thick snow swirling in the air. As Jonas peered through the snow, he became aware of the silence. There was no noise, no singing, no music. Had he only imagined the warm, friendly lights?
Was he just making up the music? No, he could still see the flickering, colored lights and the music was altogether a new sense-surely he couldn’t have made the glorious sound up. Jonas abruptly took a step back, startled, as a face appeared in the snow, backlit against the colored lights, staring back into his own. Mismatched eyes flicked over Jonas, taking in the thread-worn, dirty tunic, the bundle he hugged to his chest, and the sled behind him. Silence. Deafening silence.
Jonas didn’t know how long he stood in the snow, staring into the face. A man’s face, he realized, with shaggy brown hair flecked with snowflakes, a crooked nose, and thin lips that pressed together at the sight of him. But, the feature that stood out most was his eyes. He had one green eye and one brown eye—an abnormality that would’ve gotten him released, had he lived in Jonas’s former Community. He saw people walking about wearing coats and hats and gloves, and children throwing packed handfuls of snow at each other.
Jonas gently walked over to a group of kids who seemed to be worn out from the snow fights. He wasn’t sure of what to ask, and he hadn’t made any plans beyond getting to Elsewhere. All of this, besides the fading memories, seemed new to him. He realized what some things were, but this place was so different from his own community, that he wasn’t sure how to respond to things. As he approached a girl with a knitted hat, scarf, and mittens, he took a deep breath and called out. “Uh, excuse me,” he said, his voice cracking as he spoke.
The girl turned around to face him. She looked familiar, but Jonas couldn’t place it. She had golden hair and rosy cheeks, and a warm smile. Her light eyes sparkled. He felt as if he knew her, maybe from a dream. “Yes? ” she asked gently. He held Gabriel tighter to his chest as the child squirmed, and he looked into her eyes. “Do I, know you…from somewhere? ” The girl’s smiled eased, and Jonas thought he heard a slight giggle. “Welcome Jonas,” she said. “My name is Rosemary. “