“Daddy, why is the snow red?” Lannie almost jerked my arm out of its socket when she stopped. I really hadn’t been paying much attention to her, other than making sure her hand didn’t slip out of mine. We were running late for the party at my boss’ house, and it had been one of those days where everything had taken twice as long as it should have. Four year olds were prone to those days. I’d been fairly dragging her through the snow – ankle-deep on me, it was nearly up to her knees, and she just wanted to play snow fairy. I hadn’t planned on bringing her to the party – it wasn’t that kind of event – but my wife had been called in for an extra shift at work, and I’d judged the awkwardness of bringing a child to an adult’s party would be less than that of missing the event, not when I was angling for a promotion.
I didn’t even turn my head in the direction she was pointing, but just tugged on her arm a bit harder, knocking her off balance. “It’s just a Christmas light shining through the snow, honey. Now, c’mon, we have to go. We’re already late.”
“No, daddy, it’s not. I know what that looks like!” Insulting a four-year-old’s intelligence was not a good idea, at least not this particular one. She didn’t know many things, but what she knew, she knew. I didn’t want to have to drag her the entire last block to the party. Bringing a toddler to this event would be one thing, bringing a snow-covered toddler screaming bloody murder would be another. I took a deep breath and tried to summon as much calm as I could into my voice.
“Show me, honey.”
“There, daddy! On that big house!” Lannie’s little mittens were aimed straight at my boss’ house, and when I finally looked, I felt a stab of fear in my gut. This wasn’t some tame glow through a coating of snow; all of the snow on his lawn was a deep red. And it wasn’t just the snow on the ground – the flakes falling from the sky were the same shade of scarlet, piling up in drifts that were already yards deep. His neighbor’s yards looked normal, but Mr. Thompson’s house was encircled by what looked like the spoor of Hell.
Tearing my eyes away from the sight in front of me, I looked down at Lannie, now as subdued as she’d been all night. But she was reacting more to the look on my face than the red snow itself. Kids look to adults to interpret the unknown, and at her age, there were lots of unknowns. Trying to steady my voice, I smiled down at her, hoping it didn’t look as creepy as I felt. “It’s a party, sweetie. Mr. Thompson has decorated the snow for the party. C’mon. Let’s go see what else he has in store!”
I really needed that promotion.