Snow Cone Machine

Mush was getting desperate. Every morning, he woke and hastily shoved his nose to the glass of his window, hoping for a Winter Wonderland, but was disappointed every day. No snow.

"Blink," he'd said plaintively, more than once. "What if it doesn't snow this Christmas? What are we going to do? It's tradition."

"Mushee," his boyfriend responded tolerantly, every time. "Don't worry, I'm sure it'll snow. Just be patient."

But so far, not a flake was in sight. The skies were clear, and it wasn't even below freezing outside. There were no snow predictions, though Mush checked faithfully every day and Blink dutifully tuned in with him.

Now, it was Christmas Eve. If it didn't snow that day, the five-year tradition between him and Blink would be broken. The tradition was nothing huge, just a snowball fight Christmas day, but it was still tradition. It was their tradition. That was how they'd met--there had been a fierce war in the neighborhood the day Mush had moved in, and Blink had recruited him the second the moving van had stopped. Together, they'd stormed the neighborhood.

Well, sort of. They were the two youngest there, and instead of the already established teams, the older kids had decided to change plans and gang up on Blink and Mush. But Blink's older brother, Scott, had been on their side, so it was three against about twelve. Mush could remember the assembly line they'd made--Blink made the snowballs, Mush handed them to Scott, and Scott, with his all-state pitcher's arm, had fired them off. But three was no real match for twelve, even when one of the three was Scott, so within ten minutes, Mush had found himself welcomed to the neighborhood in a snow bank. He'd gone back to Blink's house for hot chocolate and a big fire in the mantel in the living room, and he'd never been separated from Blink since.

"Blink! Does it look a little cloudier to you?" Mush asked hopefully. Blink dubiously looked out the window. There were no clouds in the sky.

"Uh...sure does, Mush." Blink shook his head slightly as he went back to his chocolate milk. They'd wanted hot chocolate, but...well, it just wasn't cold enough, much to Mush's chagrin.

"Damn that global warming," he'd muttered.

Later, as they snuggled on the couch watching "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"--the old school, Claymation version, of course--Blink racked his brains for a way to make this okay for Mush. In a lot of ways, Mush was still like a little kid--he loved snow, he loved Disney movies, and he got really excited when he heard the ice cream man coming down the street. Christmas with no snow would be like summer without swimming, or fall without driving around looking at all the beautiful leaves. The season and the days would still be there, but it would be drab and gloomy.

Before going to bed that night, Blink stuck his head out the window and looked skyward.

"Snow!" he yelled. "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

"Shut up!" Someone from a neighboring house bellowed at him. He ignored them and kept yelling, until something hard whizzed past his ear. He quickly shut the window.

"Please? Please snow? Please! For Mush!" It was a half-prayer, half-chant, and Blink kept saying it steadily until his eyelids drooped and he faded off to sleep.

*

Mush excitedly rushed to the window. It had to be snowing--it just had to! It was Christmas! He flung the curtains back, holding his breath, only to exhale disappointedly. No snow.

He trudged down the stairs to open presents. Christmas was still great, but it just wasn't the same without the excitement of playing in the snow later. And what about the traditional snowball fight with Blink?

An hour later, Blink called.

"Hey, Mush, you coming over?"

"Well, what are we going to do, Blinkee? There's no snow."

"Trust me, okay? Just come over. And dress in your snow clothes." He hung up. Mush stared at the phone in his hands. Dress in his snow clothes? He'd be sweaty before he made it down the street to Blink's house. But he wasn't one to disappoint, so he geared up, even down to the hideous, frilly scarf his little sister had made for him the year before and his hat with the giant puffball on top that matched Blink's.

When he walked into Blink's house, he gasped. A blast of cold air had brought swirling white flakes toward him.

"Wha...?"

Reaching out to touch it, Mush realized it was paper. Tiny pieces of confetti were drifting from a fan at the top of the stairs. The air conditioning was blowing full blast, turning the house into a large igloo.

"Blinkee! Where are you?"

A snowball hit him in the back of the head.

Mush whirled around to see Blink, grinning widely, holding no less than three snowballs.

"What the hell?" Mush asked in confusion.

"Snowball fight, Mushee!"

"How?"

"Well. It's the miracle of Christmas, wouldn't you agree?" At Mush's disbelieving look, he added, "Or, you know, the snow cone machine I got three years ago."

Sure enough, the kitchen bore evidence of Blink's labors. Ice lay melting in puddles all over the floor, and the poor snow cone machine, which had never been employed for this much work at once, practically drooped. But there were four deep bowls full of homemade snowballs.

The boys scattered the snowballs all over the house and went to battle. Shrieking, gasping, and slipping in the melting ice, Blink and Mush had their snowball fight. It was shorter than usual, and they had to stop twice to make more snowballs, but that didn't matter--they were keeping their tradition.

Finally, panting, the boys traipsed back into the kitchen for their traditional hot chocolate. They drank it, even though they were sweating a little and the house was back to normal temperature. They even lit a fire in the grate, to the protestations of Blink's mother.

"So, Mush, how'd you like it?" Blink asked hopefully. Taking a long sip of hot chocolate and slightly scalding his tongue, the last remaining ice melting in his hair, Mush had never felt happier. He leaned over and gave his boyfriend a long kiss.

"This was the best snowball fight ever."

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