Gunnar slipped out of his family’s townhouse and closed the front door, soft as a spy. He wasn’t supposed to be out there on his own, but his parents wouldn’t notice. And anyway, he’d be back inside in just a few minutes. Quick as a flash. 

It was past ten in the morning but still dark out. The sun wouldn’t come up for another hour. He looked around at their street. It snowed in the night! Only a little dusting, but snow was snow. It looked just like the powdered sugar on the Christmas cookies his Danish au pair made the day before, on Christmas Eve. 

Gunnar descended the steps and trudged around the corner, scooted across the street and out onto the ice. He knew it was safe. In fact, he’d be out there later that day with his parents to watch the college kids play hockey. Right now, though, there was no one on the pond, no cars on the streets. Christmas Day. Everyone was at home eating oatmeal and staying warm, or still in bed (“sleeping it off”) like his parents. 

He ventured farther out onto the ice, halfway to the middle of the pond, then lay down on his back, gazing up at the gray clouds against the violet morning sky, imagining bears and dragons and brave men with swords chasing them. He made snow angels. Laughed at the fresh tickle of snowflakes on his face.