The Snowman left Earth in the forty-seventh year of summer.
There was no snow on the first planet he’d been to, and nothing but snow on the second. Planet number three was a wash: all water, and who cared about the weather on the surface? Not the fish. Five or six planets later–he couldn’t remember–he landed again. The world was covered in ashy-grey dust, and not promising, but he was nearly out of fuel, so he stayed.
If he left the ashy planet, he would never have a home; he’d drift in space until he fell into a star. Winter would come. Surely, winter must come. From the tilt of the planet’s axis, and the speed of its orbit, he knew the planet would have seasons.
So, he built a cottage out of scrap metal and waited.
Summer faded, and after that, the rains. By the time he realized the rains were winter, it was spring again, and he was still alone. He did not want to be alone; he simply was. By then, he was used to it, but he was lonely, just the same.
His kind needed snow, and not just any snow. They needed the magical first snowfall, the one that came just a little late, and still unexpectedly. They needed the first flutter of excitement and faith that Spring would come again.
And then–only then–something like him could come to life.
He waited. He spent one season as a puddle in the ash, and the next as a wisp of cloud-fluff. Then, the dry cold was back, and the lingering magic in his own soul restored him. He waited longer.
He nearly missed the first flutter of winter. The flakes fell into the ash and melted muddy; the air around him was cold enough, but the ground was not. The flakes got bigger, fluffier, and thicker, but they hit the ground and melted.
Then, the snow stopped.
In desperation, the Snowman lunged toward the nearest puddle, and scraped ash into it with his hands. He could not spend another day alone; he needed others. He needed family. He pulled the clay toward himself, and shaped it into something not unlike his own form, as big as the little bit of moisture would allow, but still smaller.
He looked up into the dry gray sky and watched.
The clay in front of him quivered and then… it moved. The child was alive. His child was alive.
He was a father. His vision clouded, and he blinked back crystalline tears. He had what he’d waited for so long.
When he looked again, the child was running. The children were running.
He’d only looked away for a second, but the child ran fast, and he’d made himself a brother. Now, they were both in the mud, both piecing together arms and legs as fast as their little hands allowed.
And it was beginning to snow again.
This was my story from last year’s Independent Bookworm Advent Calendar, hosted by the amazing Katharina Gerlach. The calendar counts down the days til Christmas with a new short story delivered by email each day. If you would like to receive this year’s stories, sign up here!