Saunder’s Hill – The Sled, Part 2

This is the continuation of the story that I began in a post over a year ago (click here for the first installment), but these stories date from my childhood. I hope you enjoy the ending!

The day passed so quickly with Papa helping Jay, Kyle, and me build a snowman and lots of snowball fights. I barely even glanced at the old ram-shackle shed that housed my coveted Christmas present. But as the day began to fade into twilight, I remembered my promise to myself.

          That night, my family gathered around the Christmas tree and sang carols. The warmth of love and the glow of the fire almost made me forget my plan for that night. Christmas is still two weeks away! I reminded myself, feeling my resolve harden. I WOULD try out that sled! My little sister, Colette, and I shared a room, so I lay perfectly still even though my heart was racing. I planned in my treacherous, little mind to steal out of the house that night and go sledding to my heart’s content!

          When I heard the grandfather clock in the hallway chime midnight, I slowly pulled the covers off and stepped gingerly out into the hallway. Our house had very creaky floors, positioned just so that each step exploded underfoot. I could hear Papa snoring loudly from his and Mama’s bedroom. As long as I could hear that, I knew I was safe. Miraculously, I made it to the lean-to where my coat hung on its peg. I struggled into my snow boots tucked below the coats and hats.

          Just as I set one foot outside the back door, a small voice said, “Ellie, what are you doing?” It was Colette. I groaned and put a mittened hand on my forehead.

          “Will you promise not to tell anybody?” I demanded, suspiciously.

          “Yes, yes,” Colette nodded her head vigorously.

          “Do you swear it?!” I grabbed her arm and fairly shook the answer out of her.

          “Yes, yes, yes, ye….!”

          “Alright, alright!” I let go of her arm and stared at the shed, “I’m going sledding.”

          “You what?!” Colette nearly shouted.

          “Sssssshhhhh!” I smooshed my hand over her mouth and glared at her.

          “I won gooo too,” Colette’s whisper was muffled under my glove.

          “Don’t be silly,” I said haughtily, marching off to the shed, “that is a boy’s sled. You said yourself you didn’t ride boys’ sleds.”

          “Well, I want to try now!” Colette whined.

          “Alright, I guess you can lay on top of me while we go down the hill.”

          We reached the shed and slowly, carefully, I opened the door. Once it creaked so loudly that I knew Mama and Papa had heard it, but no lights came on in the house. I breathed a sigh of relief and hurriedly stepped inside.

          It was pitch black in the shed. Pitchforks, tools, the wagon, and the plow made eerie looking shapes in the gloom. Quickly, I swallowed my fear in a loud gulp and carefully felt my way to the other part of the shed.

          Finally, my hand felt something hard and smooth, the sled! I almost shouted a big “hurrah!” then remembered I was supposed to be quiet. I held it to me as I raced back outside.

          Colette was sobbing quietly.

          “I just knew the goblins had gotten you! The shed always scares me at night.”

          I was about to tell her there was nothing to be afraid of, but then remembered how scared I hold felt.

          “Come on!” I said gruffly and trooped off to the edge of the hill.

          “Now,” I turned to Colette, “I’m going to get down on the sled and you get on top of me; then hold on tight!”

          Slowly, anticipating, I lowered myself onto the sled. It moved forward slightly, startling me, but I went on with my plan. As Colette slowly lowered herself onto me, the sled suddenly slipped, throwing her onto me and catapulting us down the hill!

          I had never been on a “boys” sled before. Of course, I had no idea how to steer or hold on! We careened down the slope, Colette and I screaming at the top of our lungs! Our dog, Rex, began barking as we suddenly swerved toward the chicken coop!

          “Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!” Colette and I screamed as we plunged into the chicken coop at breakneck speed! Eggs, feathers, and chickens were flying everywhere! We crashed into the other side of the chicken wire, and screeched to a halt with eggs, feathers, and chicken wire surrounding us like a blanket.

          I could hear Mama, Papa, Jay, and Kyle running out of the house. Colette and I just lay on our backs, gasping for air.

          “Ellie! Colette!” my father rushed up, breathing hard, “Are you alright?” I just gasped “yes” hoarsely.

          I heard giggling and laughing from the other side of the chicken coop. My brothers were doubled over with laughter.

          “You should see your faces!” Jay imitated my dazed look while Kyle just pointed and laughed. I jumped to my feet, and egg dribbled out of my hair onto one side of my face. With a red face, I grabbed an egg and hurled it at my howling brothers.

          CRACK!!! Egg suddenly ran down the front of Jay’s nightshirt. A shocked look slowly spread across his face.

          “Now you ought to see your face!” I howled.

          “Ellie, that was entirely uncalled for,” Papa’s stern voice hushed me instantly, “Boys, your mother and I need to talk to your sisters alone for a minute. Go on back to bed. And Jay,” Jay turned around, “Try to get cleaned up.” I could hear the laughter in his voice.

          He turned to me. “Well, I guess you two know what I’m gonna say.”

I nodded, making the egg drip further down my cheek. I swiped at it. I could hear Colette’s muffled sobs.

“That sled will wait in the shed until Christmas. And you and Colette will help me rebuild the chicken coop.”

“Yessir,” I mumbled.

“I’m not finished…” Papa continued.

There’s more! My mind shouted.

“You and Colette will clean the coop for a whole month.”

         My shoulders slumped. Another chore? I thought, but then, I guess all of this is fair. I glanced around and a smile lifted the corners of my mouth. We did make a BIG mess!

“Sorry, Papa,” I apologized, “I didn’t mean to make such a mess…but…that sled is GREAT!”

He laughed and enfolded me in a bear hug. We pulled little Colette into our embrace, and in the swirl of awakened, squawking chickens, I was convinced that my family would always love me. No matter what.

Now to get those chickens back in the coop!

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