The Snow Sculpture
Joanne Faries

Howard unzipped his red coat and readjusted his black ski cap. The Denver air was cold and crisp, but Howard felt sweat trickle down his back despite the advertised wick effect of his new long underwear. He stepped back to get a better view of his creation and stumbled over his thermos. The unscrewed cap flipped off and the creamy brown liquid soaked into the snow leaving a smear of tan sludge. With the toe of his boot, Howard scuffed the spot and then looked around at other entries.  

 A castle, a mountain, and a polar bear were obvious choices in a snow-sculpting contest. He dismissed his competitors. The crowd would gasp and laud his skills. Howard yearned to win the one thousand dollar prize. Close to eviction, he needed money to linger on the amateur snowboard circuit and crash the money gates. "Maybe crash is a poor choice of words, but I'm going to win soon. I need to change my name. Howard is too earthbound; I've got to soar."  He stopped his daydream. "First I need to shovel and carve out more snow."   

Last night at the bar, kids discussed the snow contest. As he poured martinis and wiped up spilled beers, Howard imagined his award winning design. He had a shovel, some scoopers, and a glazer gathered before he fell into bed. The alarm was set for 6 A.M. and he arrived early at the park to get a slot. The monstrous pile of snow did not leave much room to maneuver. Everyone had a ten by twelve plot to transform into something magical.   

Judges called out the hours; it was now eleven. At noon the gong would sound and shovels put to rest. Every flake in the designated area had to be incorporated in the design. Howard continued to dig until his shovel clanged against a hard surface. The reverberation caused him to drop his weapon and shake out his elbow. Tears sprang to his eyes from the ache, and from the knowledge that he was stuck with a metal parking post.   

Howard did his best to form snow around the post to look like it flowed in his tropical dream design. He had snow palm trees and a snow bar. A bikini clad frozen woman leaned over the bar to wave at a surfer dude. Applause followed the judges from plot to plot. As they arrived at his spot, a snow coconut fell on Howard's head. He shook off the powder and heard laughter. The surfer had fallen and was cut in half by the metal post. The judges moved on and Howard's dreams melted along with his snow paradise.       

First published: February, 2007
comments to the writer: Knob'