The snow fell thick and wet on our clean, flat concrete driveway.
We innocently shoveled the heavy snow into a pile that later would form the base of the beast. Had we known then what we were creating, we would have scattered the glittering crystals to the winds before the creature had a chance to take shape.
When the base stood one foot high off the ground, we foolishly gathered more snow for its belly. Lovingly, our gloved hands rolled and patted until the basketball-size mid-section found its home on the wide, sprawling foundation. A final effort yielded a perfect sphere of a head, which we tenderly placed in a scooped-out basin atop the beast's neckless shoulders.
Demon-red eyes were crafted using berries, plucked from a nearby Nandina. A handful of the same berries also shaped the wickedly grinning mouth. The plastic handle of a garden tool provided its nose, and we dived into our wardrobe to give it a proper hat and scarf. Two branches, snapped from a bare scrub Oak tree, completed the seemingly benign snowman. We admired our creation for a little while before the children escaped to the warmth of the house to sit by the gas logs and play with their new Christmas toys and games.
It stood in the cold in the front yard, gathering strength and size from the continuing precipitation. I remained outside with it to shovel snow from the driveway. Several times, I swear I heard the crunching of shifting packed snow, only to find the snowman staring directly at me. Had it moved closer? Were its arms raised higher in the air than we had set them? Were the wild, berry eyes staring at me? I hurried to finish the driveway.
The next morning, nothing appeared out of place. But by midday, with the warming Sun bathing the white landscape in its radiant light, the pure white creature in our driveway let slip the first hints of the dark, evil spirit at its core. Ever so slightly it leaned toward the house, reaching out with clutching, gnarled, gray fingers. I cautiously approached it, until a berry dropped from its crooked mouth and rolled down the driveway to stop at my boot. Was it the wind, or did I just hear a muffled growl from somewhere too close?
Through the night and into the next morning I tried to convince myself the snowman was inanimate and transient. It soon would be gone, melted away into the soft sandy soil under the pinestraw, its beedy berry eyes eaten by some hungry Cardinal or Yellow Finch.
The warmer air indeed did its best to remove the unholy creature from our driveway. I woke to find it stooped and lurching toward the house, struggling against nature to escape the rising Sun. For the briefest moment I pitied it, until I knelt to glimpse its face. An angry, powerful rage burst from the beast's red eyes that hung in their sockets, defying gravity. I scurried away from it, grateful for the knowledge it would soon be gone.
But the snowbeast survived for several more days. Each morning smaller. Each morning closer to our home. Each morning more stooped and twisted than the one before. Naked and blind, dripping with sweat from its relentless struggle, it held on to its evil mission.
When it became clear we would never be free of the beast, I took a shovel from the garage, gripped it firmly with both hands, and swung it repeatedly into the creature's head and body. Slushy chunks of snowman splattered across the driveway. I stood watching as the runoff from the melting carcass continued on the beast's path down to the open garage, only to be diverted into the flowerbed by the slope of the concrete.
Safe at last, we reclaimed our driveway and our peace of mind. However, I've heard tonight's forecast calls for snow...
© 2011 Mark Feggeler