Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
It began slowly – a few flakes floating to earth around eight o’clock, right at the tail end of the dinner hour.
Hazel noticed the tiny white flashes as they passed through the glow of the garage light, just outside of her kitchen window. Jason had his attention drawn from the evening business news by his children, who hoped for a school closing. Daniel J. Winterbourne looked up from his desk, but not at the now heavy flakes falling outside the window behind him.
By ten o’clock the world was quiet and still, shapes softened by a three inch blanket. Morning brought even more snow as Morganville came to a complete halt, thoughts of blue sky and sunshine a thing of the past.
Finally, the air cleared, but the clouds still hung low, as if to make sure that their frozen offspring had covered everything beneath them completely. Of course, though, they hadn’t.
In the northwest corner office on the third floor in the Founder’s Building on Main Street, the pool of red blood had now blackened alongside Daniel J. Winterbourne, where they both waited to be discovered.
Do you know where this is going? If you do, let me in on the secret. I certainly don’t, but I awoke from a night spent dreaming of snow with these words in my head, and as any good writer would, especially any good mystery writer, I immediately wrote them down. After all, it’s better to capture them for the future than to lose them altogether.
But why, you might ask, had I been dreaming of snow?
Yes, I spent my early years in Indiana and Ohio, where there was plenty of it, but that was a long time ago. Most of my time has been spent in the Deep South, where snow was a novelty, and even here in the mid-Atlantic, we’ve seen very little of it this year. Were my dreams merely wishful thinking, or did they portend of a blizzard on its way here? Did I even care one way or the other?
Some of my earliest memories are of snow-covered fields rushing past the windows of our tiny family’s two-tone blue 1951 Pontiac as we drove through the night to my maternal grandmother’s house. I loved visiting this grandmother and my uncle who still lived with her, so point one for the snow.
On the other hand, the stuff can be cold, especially when you’re trudging your way through it to school. No, I can’t claim that I walked miles, but I did walk several blocks. Our street in Columbus, Ohio was one of the first to be plowed as it was a fire lane along which the red trucks would roar past. Consequently, there was a long mountain range of the stuff pushed by the plows to my right as I made my way to Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary and on my left as I made my way back. Since there was a five foot high hill on the other side of the sidewalk, I essentially made my way through an ice tunnel filled with cold humid air. Contracting pneumonia two years in a row was for me, then, a no-brainer – NOT a plus for the snow.
Once we moved to East Tennessee, snow meant that school would be closed. That is, until the town hired a new superintendent who hailed from Michigan and saw no need to cancel classes for a few feet of white stuff. Basically, those years would count as one thumb up and one thumb down, so they’re a washout.
During high school, Father, my first real boyfriend, and I drove 13 hours through a blinding snow storm to retrieve my paternal grandmother and maiden great-aunt who were marooned in the Cincinnati train station. Since I was able to hold my boyfriend’s hand the whole time, we’ll give that one a thumb’s up.
My new husband and I drove all New Year’s Day, 1969, through the snow to visit my maternal grandmother – our first adventure together – another thumb’s up.
On April 5, 1971, my oldest son was born at 4:05 a.m. in the morning. When I looked outside after his six a.m. feeding, the ground was covered with a dusting of snow – unusual for Knoxville, Tennessee in the spring. Definitely a fond memory.
When my youngest son was three, he and I were stuck at the home of a friend on the northwest side of Atlanta for three days, due to the sudden arrival of the worst snow/ice storm of the season. My husband had taken shelter in a downtown hotel when I-75 had been closed, which left my oldest son alone at our house until a kind neighbor took him in along with half a dozen other stranded children. Definitely NOT the best of experiences.
In the mid-90s, nineteen inches of snow hit Birmingham, Alabama, and we were without power for three days, warming the single room in which we remained with the flames of nineteen candles arrayed on cookie sheets spread along the top of a triple dresser. A freezer full of frozen food was tossed out at the end of our ordeal, and the bedroom ceiling had to be scrubbed and repainted due to soot from the candles. I’ll let you call this one.
Three winters ago, here in the mid-Atlantic, snow began falling on Monday and didn’t stop until Thursday. When the sun finally peeked out there were more than 40 inches of frozen precipitation leaning against my patio doors. At one point late Wednesday, I had wondered if the falling stuff had morphed into Dr. Seuss’s oobleck, and I started keeping an eye out for Bartholomew. We were surrounded by blackened ice mountains for weeks. It was a mess.
According to the weathermen, there are two fronts coming our way here in the D.C. area. One of them will definitely bring a few inches of snow to Virginia, but if there’s a cosmic convergence at exactly 5:15 in the morning and the two fronts join forces, then we may have some measureable accumulation where I live as well. So, what do I think of that?
Wishing to err on the side of caution, I carefully tabulate the above – four positives, four negatives, and a tie.
But then, my mind fills with memories of fat flakes floating through the air, fields covered in thick white blankets, and my first born child snuggled in my arms as I stood by our hospital room window, and I say, “Oh, go ahead, let it snow!”
A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn