Friday, January 05, 2007

Spadina streetcar, with the kindest face.

Caucasian woman, mid 20s, almost 6', with long spiral blonde hair, glasses, fair complexion and innocent features, wearing a long black coat, red knitted cap with silver horns and purple velour pants. She carries a black knapsack with a large red ribbon and dragonfly pinned to it.

Stardust, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins)

Page 53:

The cold thing in his hand chimed once: a crystalline tinkling like the bells of a tiny glass cathedral. He opened his hand and held it up to the moonlight.

It was a snowflake, made all of glass.

They walked along the frozen shoreline, ducking under tree branches, following tiny animal tracks in the fresh powder of the night's snowfall. The little girl placed all her trust in the woman's forearm, afraid to see if the ice would bear her weight. The woman edged her on,"Tu es sûr, mon petite chou."

The tracks disappeared. "Tantine?"

The woman stood tall and stretched her neck. Indeed, the tracks were gone. Her niece looked to her, bemused, and the woman started her story.

She could only imagine, she began, bending down to tuck the girl's blonde curls into her fleecy hood, that at that very moment a flying pony must have crossed the marble blue sky and plucked a baby red fox from his place, carrying him along the bay for a sunshiny pleasure cruise.

The little girl's eyes grew wide. "Un poney?"

Her aunt continued. She was pretty sure that the pony had dropped the fox atop a float of peppermint bark, the fur on his face ruffled gently by the crisp breeze. She pointed out into the bay. "Voyez, il sourit!" Perhaps, she continued, a bear cub dipped her toe into the icy chill, wondering if she, too, could come along for the ride. For now, Mama was telling her to come back to a warm cuddle, where it was safer. The fox would have waved and followed the current out into the open lake. The woman pulled a tissue from her sleeve and dabbed at the little girl's eyes tearing in the cold wind. Juste comme moi, she thought. The girl urged her to continue.

Night was falling, and the sky was so full of light and play that the fox couldn't look away. His little heart beat deep in his chest and he wished he could touch the moon. He stepped to the edge of his float and felt a sudden pull on his shoulders just as his paw sank into the water. The flying pony lifted him higher and higher, soaring toward the stars until the fox was suspended between the clouds. Thousands of bright eyes peered up at him from the tiny cottages below. One pair was particularly bright, the woman continued, peppering the little girl's face with butterfly kisses. It was his family beckoning the fox home to bed. She swooped her niece up into her arms and ran along the shore, singing the story so loudly her lungs felt they would collapse. The little girl squealed with delight.

The pony cradled the fox tight and they began their descent, swooping, down, down, down into a hole in the ground, into a pile--"Mère et Père et Grand-Maman et Grand-Papa et Tantine et Oncle!"--all giggling and playful, eager to hear about the little fox's magical journey.

The woman and the girl fell into a snow bank, side by side, making snow angels. The little girl smiled, exhausted. A twinkle rose in her eye and she took the woman's hand, turning her cheek toward her hero.



Ginette said...

I love every bit of this sparkly snowflake story as it reminds me of the magic and tenderness I experience with my own niece. Oh, and her famous words "encore, encore tante gigi". Thank you Julie.


Julie Wilson said...

Your love for her is ferocious; it's clear. Take the story; it's yours to give.