The morning sun bounces off the calf-deep snow, like a billion tiny crystals shining all at once. I breathe in the vivid blue sky, and it circulates through the channels in my body. I breathe out and feel the warmth of the naked sun on my face. Tashi runs, and falls, and runs and falls, in the white powder. He pops up, giggles, and picks up the powder in his leather-mittened hands.
The stomped-down trail through the snow was forged this morning when I chased Tashi out of the cabin. When we got near the cairn, I fell from fake exhaustion into the soft whiteness. He bounced up and laughed at me, pointing a chubby finger. I grabbed him and pulled down, giggling and out of breath.
Now, with the sun one arm-span above the horizon, I hear something that could be a voice through the thick hat covering my ears. I pull it off to listen, but there is only silence. I chase Tashi again. The snow is knee-high for him, and he struggles to make headway with his four-year-old legs.
“I’m going to tickle you!” I shout, my voice warmed with a smile.
Suddenly, there’s Mother. She trudges toward us with her hands on her hips, her brow furrowed.
“Pema Ozer!” she shouts from outside the cabin, “come inside right this instant— and bring Tashi.” She turns and hurries toward the cabin door, almost falling when she loses her footing on the ice by the door. The door-pull helps steady her. She pulls the wooden door open and bustles inside.
I race toward home as fast as I can with Tashi on my shoulders, replaying the morning in my mind. Why is she mad? I didn’t do anything wrong. I wish I had a sister near my age to back me up.
Ama glares at me when I catch up with her. “I called and called for you! Why didn’t you come?”
“I didn’t hear you, Ama!”
The corners of her mouth turn down so far they seem to droop off her face. “I really doubt that. We’ll talk about it later. Right now, Rinpochey is here with Khandro. They’re stopped by on their way back to Dartsang. Hurry up! Go make tea. Use the best cups.”
“What?” My eyes widened.
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