Andrea had never seen snow in all of her life.
She had been told several times at school that snow was something puffy, crunchy, cold and light that accumulates in cold places, but that never felt like an explanation to her. She had been told many times that it could fall gently or arrive wrapped in a gust of wind, or that it could be thawed away with salt, but what good was that information if she had never came across snow? Every single time, she asked, and asked, and asked, yet she never managed to get a satisfactory explanation.
Truth be told, it was not entirely her fault not to have seen the snow; no child in her class had first-hand experience with it, yet she remained the only one to ask. And every time, teachers would pull out a worn out picture and explain some trivia about snow, always trying to avoid the question as fast as possible. She was always left behind, singled out as the only one in class who showed no content in those evasive explanations.
When going home, Andrea would ask her parents what snow looked like. Clara was a cultivated person of science who prided herself in having read the most complete and succint volumes in a wide variety of topics. Her exposition was always elegant and precise; no missed comma, word or stroke to blemist her explanations. Whom better to ask about snow?
And Andrea asked, “mom, what is snow?”
“Imagine water falling from the sky. But that water is solid; it's perfectly round and falls slowly, being balanced by the breezes of air as it falls. When it comes to the ground, it does not make things wet because it's solid, but it covers everything like a bedsheet, And when you touch it with your bare hands, it is cold as ice, but melts instantly. That is snow.”
Although that definition closely resembled what she saw on pictures and what teachers would tell her class, she could not yet imagine what it was about snow that made stories feature it so prominently. And there they were, everywhere, clearly pointing at something she could not quite make out from pure words and poor pictures. However, she still ahd hope, for there was Beatriz to ask.
Unlike Clara, a woman who woulc see the world thorugh the lenses of pure reason and casual connections, Beatriz was a simpler kind of person, who liked to spend the day seeing the world through her hands. Beatriz had always had problems to see clear images from farther than a few inches away, and she would always complain of not knowing what the world looked like. Nevertheless, that had never stopped her from making herself a name in the artistic world, imprinting the world she perceived through her hands into wood and clay. She always had had a more hands-on approach on issues, wondering how to touch the things in order to gain additional insight.
And so Andrea approached Beatriz.
“Mom, what is snow?”
Upon having heard that quesiton, her mothing stopped what she was doing, standing still with her arms raised while her eyes closed and she took a deep breath. She then opened her eyes and left the tools on the table.
“I think you are asking the wrong person,” she confessed in a stifled laugh. “For me, snow has never been anything aside from lots of tiny white stars that don't glow, unlike the stars on the sky, and cover the fields with a white mass that is really, really cold.” She faked a shiver as she explained. “I think I already told you many times in the past, but mom cannot really see as well as she would like to, so my perception fo the world is so much different from most people's. But if you ask me, I would tell you that it is something that falls from the sky and accumulates on the ground, that is always really cold for some reason and that forms really big clumps.”
Andrea looked at the sky: there was the roof, but on top of that, it was the skies, with the Sun, the clouds and the stars.
“Mom,” Andrea said, “could it be possible the snow are stairs falling fromt he sky because it is really cold outside? Like, you say they look like stars...”
Her mother let out a good chuckle that confused Andrea. For her, it just sounded so logical and coherent; why was her mother laughing like she just said something funny and out of place?
“Sorry, honey, but I think that is now quite how it works.”
“But you just said-!”
“It is because of how many things I cannot see clearly in this world. Since my eyes are not as good as yours, I have to stay on my lane and say what I know. However, you seem to be really imaginative, and that is a good thing to be in this world... Once you grow up, you will find out not many people in this world have imagination, and spend their days frowning upon everything because they only know sadness and grief. Why don't you write that thing about the snow in a notebook?”
In the end, Andrea was yet to know what snow was, rendering all that conversation useless. Unless there was something the rest of adults couldn't see but her mom could, of course.
Yes, that sounded reasonable; that was the reason why she was capable of creating such beautiful furniture, the one everyone loved and bought from her at the town fair. Despite so many people would not ler her work as a carpenter for a living, saying she had so much of a poor eyesight, she just had the ability to see what no one else could see, beacuse her eyes were simply so unique. Perhaps, Andrea reasoned, it was liek the people who get killed in the takes for knowing too much – and Beatriz, ehr mother, wanted to protect her from being killed because she knew too much.
Yes, of course; that sounded to her like the only reasonable expanation out there.
That night, Andrea dreamt of a plain with a river. It was common for her to dream of that place, a place wherein she would always stay and different things would happen. One night, there was a festival down the plain, and she could eat cotton candy while she saw the fireworks, on eyes her mothing could never see. Other day, there would be a swimming competition upstream the river, and she found out the cascade where the water of the river came from, on top of which lay a forest, deep as the mouth of a wolf.
But that night was different. That night, she was seeing a figure on a cloak looking at the sky. The mysterious figure had grey hair, a wrinkled shin and a parched voice, that would try and sing what seemed to be a lullaby. It talked about a bird, about the trees, about the snow and about the Moon. She then noticed the figure hadn't noticed her back, and so she sat nearby to listen.
Once Andrea woke up, she took to the streets in order to tell everybody the good news, but nobody seemed to listen to her. While some just ignored her and walked away, others started looking at the sky concerned, sometimes running to take refuge in a nearby stall. In the end, just as the was about to give up, a cloaked figure pushed her to a side street and approached her.
“How are you so sure that snow is falling?”
“It was revealed to me in a dream, by a figure standing in the middle of a field. They were singing a lulalby about the birds, the weather and all – and as they sang, the things became real!”
“Were you ever told what the figure's identity was?”
Before Andrea had time to further justify herself, they both noted something light was falling from the sky. It was like dust, but slower and more graceful. It was just like Andrea saw in her dreams, cold and pretty, before it formed a white sheet atop the hills. It was snow.
“Snow, snow – here it is!” Andrea yelled.
To her surprise, however, all adults showed an abject expression of horror in their faces, and the main street soon became a chaotic field wherein people were running up and down without any sort of pacing or order. It was ganderous to stay around, that much she did understand, and soon she found herself trying to find a safe place to shelter herself from the thunder of hooves storming the ground.
As she slid into a side street and started watching the people outside, she noticed a cloaked figure outside who seemed to bear an uncanny resemblandce to the cloaked figure she saw in her dreams. The cloaked figure took ehr hood down, revealing a ginger, young yoman with a mark across ehr foreheadf, which lit in a pale blue glow along with her eyes as she raised a hand, standing in the middle of the commotion, and scramed,
“By divine degree, I now summon the powers granted to me by the past generations and rule – That Which Has Stood a Thousand Years Shall Stay Upright,” she claimed in an authoritative voice.
Andrea looked up in the sky, seeing how a network of eyes started to spread across the sky and contain the falling snow. Everyone else had sought refuge by the point, and the main street became deserted.
As Andrea tried to get back, the figure placed a hand on her shoulder. She felt like she was being anchored in place by an infinitely heavy object.
“I need you to answer a few questions, young child.” Andrea tried to raise a complaint, but the figure tightened their grip on her shoulder, and she felt incapable of speaking aloud. “I am afraid this is not the kind of sitaution where you can just say 'no'.”
She heard the footsteps of two more people approaching behind her back.
“Miss Violet, are you not blowing this out of proportion?” A deep voice said. “She is but a mere child.”
“Rules are absolute. Upholding the law is fundamental for the well-being of the community as a whole. If we start making exceptions, no matter how extreme, the powers above will weaken and we will face our demise.”
“Are you willing to lose sight of your humanity in the name of those so-called 'rules'?” A high-pitched voice protested.
“If willingly giving up my own humanity allows for everyone else to hold onto it, so be it.”
As they walked away, a single snowflake fell on the ground.