The Harsh Winter Breeze

Liliana Chai

Liliana Chai

I sniffed the ground, hoping to find something to eat. My stomach growled again. “Claire, hurry up! We need to gather more acorns this winter!” Mama and Papa called from ahead, with little Sally whining at them. I sighed and sprang after them. We hadn’t eaten for days. Sally was even more impatient than me-she complained that she wanted food and hopped up and down every single minute. I knew time was running out. The snowstorm would come soon.

I skittered up a tree, and snatched a few acorns from its branches. They smelled fresh and savory, but I knew we had to save them. “Mama, papa, I got some more!” I shot down, and raced up to the pile of nuts we had gathered. There was already so much food. “I can just take, maybe one?” I thought mischievously. “Nobody will notice,” I looked around. Papa was busy gathering nuts. Mama was busy comforting Sally. My stomach growled again. I quickly snatched an acorn from the pile and slowly nibbled it. “Mmmm...” My bushy tail swayed with delight. “Mama, sissy’s eating a nut!” I groaned. Why does Sally have to interrupt me every time I’m enjoying something?

Mama sighed. “Sally, you can have one too, but only one, no more,” Sally squealed and ran to me and grabbed an acorn, hungrily nibbling on it.
*
The snowstorm would come any minute now. Mama and papa frantically pushed the last of the acorns into the ground, where our shelter would be for the long winter. I could feel the breeze brushing against my fur, more and more stronger. “Claire, Sally, let’s go!” Sally groaned, and hoped into the hole, with myself following. We all got inside, cozy and warm, and quickly blocked the entrance of our home from the outside world. I heard from Papa that the snowstorm this winter was really big, and we had to stay inside and never go outside. I hope that we stay safe this winter.

Several minutes later, a low rumbling sound came from outside. The snowstorm was forming. Rocks tumbled from outside, and the ground was already shaking. I could hear the mighty wind sweeping along outside, picking up bits of snow wherever it went. I wished so badly that we were outside, playing in the snow and meeting our cousins, which we did every winter. However, I knew that it was too dangerous now. Suddenly, a pile of rocks and dirt came rolling down. I gasped as they landed on the floor of our shelter, and caused dust to spread in the air. Sally watched in the corner and bit a nut nervously. The snowstorm was definitely one of a kind.

We waited for almost an hour long, but the snowstorm still didn’t go away. Every time it would cease, then snow and ice would come crashing down again. By now, Sally was starting to get impatient. I looked worriedly at her. Sally normally loved to play and was always curious to explore the outside world, no matter how much I told her that there were so many dangerous things out there. She scurried up to her, waving her tail from side to side. “Claire, I really want to go out and play in the snow” She squeaked, tugging on my arm. “Please?”

I watched her pitiful looking face, and gently brushed my paws off my arm. “Sally, I’m sorry, but we can’t. The snowstorm is way too dangerous. You could get killed!” Sally huffed, and gazed longingly above her. I could tell she was urging to go outside, and couldn’t stand being in one place, but she had to be patient just for this time. If she didn’t listen, it would cost her life.
*
I yawned, stretching, and slowly opened my eyes. Everything was dark and silent. Finally, the snowstorm was over! I smiled. A good nap always solves everything. “Sally?” I whispered. “Are you there?” No answer. She was probably just asleep. I could see the black silhouette of my family, lying against the floor. I stood up and skittered across the floor, trying to find Sally. I could see only two figures in the dim moonlight, but not a third. Where was she? “Sally,” I said. “Sally!” My heart began to beat quicker, and I quickly shook mama and papa awake. “Where’s Sally?” I asked.

“She’s not here?” Mama mumbled, turning around. “I checked on her before I fell asleep, and she was sleeping... “ I frowned. That couldn’t be. I searched our whole home and found no sign of Sally. Maybe she was just playing a trick? I shook my head. The least she would do was run up to me and yell surprise. But I had a bad feeling about this. I slipped through the tunnels and kept on searching for Sally. After several minutes, it was confirmed: She was missing.

I scrambled back to Mama and papa, and shook them awake. “Sally is missing!” I panted. Mama jolted upright.

“Are you sure?”

“I searched for her everywhere!” Mama had an alarmed look on her face. We shot out of our shelter. The ground above us was covered thickly in layers of white snow, like a pure white blanket. With each step we took, our paws sank deeper into the bits of ice. “Sally!” We called. “Sally, where are you?” An hour passed of trudging in the snow, but Sally was nowhere to be found.
*
Winter would be over in another month. The days passed by in complete silence. I never knew that without Sally, my life would be so dull and boring. She was the one who started up conversations, made us laugh, and was cheerful all the time. Sometimes I would scurry up a tree and stay covered in between the branches and leaves, thinking how Sally used to love hiding everywhere. Us squirrels are almost always in danger, either getting lost or getting eaten by a predator. I knew since then to be much more careful.

Second Place Winner in the Pre-teen (10-12) Age Category - Winter Short Story Contest 2021 - San Jose Public Library

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