Spokane, Washington, 2008 – “It’s snowing, it’s snowing!” Five-year-old Junior’s excited shout and Snickers’ barking carried down the hall through the open door. Within seconds, the boy ran into the room, puppy on his heels.
“Mommy, Daddy, wake up! It’s snowing, it’s snowing!” He tugged at the covers. “Me and Snickers wanna go out and play! Come on, Daddy!”
“Henry, wake up,” Lizzie mumbled as she lightly shook her husband’s shoulder. “Our son wants to go outside.”
“Mmpf.” Henry burrowed deeper under the covers. “Five more minutes.”
Henry sleepily opened one green eye. Junior and Snickers looked up at him expectantly.
“Please, can you go out and play with us?” Junior said, his matching green eyes pleading. Snickers barked, his little tail going back and forth.
“Okay, I’m coming.”
“It’s really cold outside, Daddy,” Junior remarked when they stepped outside. Snickers bounded off of the porch and into the snow, barking happily.
“Yep,” Henry said as he trudged over to the side of the house and grabbed the shovel. He started to clear the walk, keeping an eye on his son as he did so.
Junior’s giggles, Snickers’ barking, and the occasional vehicle interrupted the still winter air, alongside shovel against pavement and snow plopping onto itself.
The next time Henry looked up, Junior wasn’t in his line of sight. Panic seized him for the split second it took him to turn around–and there the child was, stepping into the prints Henry’s boots had made in the snow.
His shoulders sagged in relief. “What’re you doing, bud?” he asked, leaning on the shovel.
“I’m stepping in your feet, Daddy!” Junior quipped as he took another step.
Henry chuckled. Like father, like son, indeed, for he’d done the same thing when he was Junior’s age. Just like that, the amusement faded and the sounds of twisting metal and shattering glass infiltrated his mind. He shook his head and resumed shoveling.
“Daddy?” Junior asked.
“Yeah, bud?” Henry said, not looking up.
“When I get bigger, am I gonna fit in your shoes?”
Henry glanced at Junior and half-smiled. “Maybe,” he said. “Or maybe your feet will be bigger than mine.”
“Do you fit in your daddy’s shoes?”
Henry paused and swallowed as if it would dissolve the lump in his throat. He looked down at his boots, remembering with clarity all those times he’d tried on his father’s as a boy. “I…guess I fit in them now,” he said. “Or would’ve.”
“Are you stepping in his feet?” Junior asked.
“I sure hope I am,” Henry replied, smiling again as he ruffled his son’s hair, a habit he’d picked up from his own father. “Hey, bud, do you want to have a snowball fight?”
© 2018 H.S. Kylian // All images © 2013-2018 Hannah Killian
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This post was last updated August 26, 2018