The snow came that night just as the weatherman had predicted. Large flakes floated down from the darkened sky above and settled on the ground below. Tomorrow the kids would take out their sleds and head for the park. They would spend the day sledding down the snow packed hills.
Toby promised his Mom for the fifteenth time the next morning, that he would look after his younger sister Greta. He waited impatiently as she searched for the mate to her mitten. Sometimes his sister could be a real pain.
“C’mon Greta, let’s go.” He said. “We don’t got all day!”
“I can’t go without my other mitten, Toby. Grandma gave me them.” Greta said. Her bottom lip was beginning to quiver. “I want to sled too Toby. Can you help me?”
“Wear some other ones, Greta.” Their Mom said. “You have two brand new pairs in the bench on the porch.”
“But these are my favorite mittens.” Greta whined. “Grandma made them for me and I love them.”
The mittens were knitted in pink and white and had Greta’s initials, in red intertwined in them. Their Grandma had passed away three years ago, so the mittens had become even more important to Greta. Toby reluctantly joined in the search for the lost mitten. He finally found the pink and white mitten on the floor behind Greta’s snow boots, which she had yet to put on. By then Toby was grumbling to himself. He wished he was an only child. Toby grabbed both sleds as he walked out the door with Greta trailing behind. She was saying something about how Grandma told her to never lose her mittens.
When they finally got to the sledding hill, there were already dozens of kids there. Toby jumped on his sled and headed down the hill, leaving Greta standing on the top.
“Toby.” She yelled. “You forgot about me!” Toby grimaced. Why did his mom insist on bringing Greta along? He just wanted to sled, not babysit.
“Hey Toby, good day for sledding huh?” Toby’s friend Ned slid up next to Toby at the bottom of the hill. Toby grinned. It was a great day for sledding. He grabbed his sled and scrambled back up the hill.
“Toby, can you push me.” Greta said. She sat on her sled at the top of the hill, waiting for Toby to give her a push. Toby sighed. He walked over to give Greta a push, all the while watching his friends slide down the hill and scramble back up to slide down the hill all over again. If only he didn’t have to help his sister all the time. He would be sledding and running up the hill with those guys. He a gave Greta a push and down the hill she went. “Whoooo.” He could hear her hollering as she slid down the hill. Toby jumped on his sled and whoosh! Down the hill he went. At the bottom, he grabbed both sleds and headed up the hill. Greta followed behind. “Toby, that was fun, can you push me again?’
“Yea, Greta, yea!’’ Toby grumbled.
They spent most of the morning, sledding down the hill and climbing back up and sledding down again. Toby was having a lot of fun. But Greta was getting tired. She was getting slower and slower climbing the hill.
“Can we go home now Toby?” Greta asked. “I’m tired. I want some hot chocolate and cookies.”
Toby wasn’t ready to go home yet and he was getting tired of watching his sister. So he grabbed his sled and raced down the hill, leaving Greta standing at the top once again. He crashed into Ned at the bottom and they both ended upside down in the snow, laughing and rolling in the snow. This was so fun. They got up and slowly made their way back up the hill, jostling each other and joking about their crash. When they got to the top Toby looked around for Greta, but she wasn’t anywhere to be found.
“Greta.” He yelled. “Greta, we can go home now.”
“She said she was cold, Toby, and she was going home.” Billy said as he walked up beside Toby and jumped on his sled and raced back down the hill.
Billy was another one of Toby’s school friends. Aww! Crap. Toby thought. Was Mom ever going to be mad at him when he got home. He probably wouldn’t even get hot chocolate and cookies, before she sent him to his room. He grabbed his sled and started for home. Halfway there he found Greta’s sled lying on the path. He shook his head. When Greta got tired, she just left her sled anywhere. He grabbed the sled and kept walking. Farther up the path, he found one of her mittens lying in the snow. Toby sighed. She would be whining about her lost mitten next time they went sledding. So Toby picked up her mitten. Well, at least he had her mitten. Maybe Mom wouldn’t be mad when she found out he had at least brought Greta’s sled home and found her mitten…again.
Toby threw the sleds on the porch as he clomped in the house. He took off his boots, snowpants and coat. He hung them all up to dry. Greta’s snowpants weren’t hanging up. Greta must have taken hers off in the kitchen. Mom probably helped her. Toby grabbed Greta’s mitten and walked into the kitchen. No Greta. No Mom.
“Mom, Greta where is everyone?” he yelled. “Is anyone here?”
Toby walked through the empty house. Maybe they went out back to build a snowman. But as he looked out the kitchen window, he saw that the car was gone. Just then the back door opened. Toby’s next door neighbor Miss Cecily, walked into the kitchen. She had tears in her eyes.
“Toby.” She said. “Your mom said you might be here. I looked for you on the sledding hill. Greta…she’s been hit by a car. Your mom is at the hospital with her now. Your dad is on his way there.” Toby stood there with Greta’s mitten in his hand. That couldn’t be true. He was just sledding with Greta.
“Your mom said you should come home with me.” Miss Cecily said. She put her arm around Toby’s shoulders. Toby still couldn’t believe it. It just wasn’t true. Greta was okay. She had to be.
Toby walked over to Miss Cecily’s house, gripping Greta’s mitten in his hand. Was Greta dead? He wondered. Miss Cecily didn’t say. He sat down on the couch in the living room. Greta can’t be dead, she just can’t be. He thought. Toby could feel something running down his cheeks as he looked at Miss Cecily.
“Is she…Is Greta…” he gulped. “Is Greta dead?” His chest felt as if it was going to explode, and he couldn’t breathe. What if Greta was dead? He didn’t want her to be dead. It was his fault; he should have not sledded down the hill when Greta wanted to go. He should have brought her home. He didn’t want to be an only child. The phone rang, just then, and Miss Cecily answered it. After a moment she put her hand to her chest. “Oh thank the Lord.” She sighed. “That is wonderful news. Toby waited wringing Greta’s mitten between his hands. Miss Cecily hung up the phone and turned to Toby.
“That was your dad Toby. Greta is going to be fine. She’s not dead. She’s alive. She has a few bumps and bruises. Somehow she slipped under the car and not a broken bone. It’s a miracle, Toby!” She hugged Toby. Toby felt as if a great weight lifted off his chest. Greta was alive. His sister Greta was alive.
“Guess what she asked for, when she woke up?” Miss Cecily asked. Toby looked up with tears shining from his eyes. “Your dad said she asked if you, Toby, had found her mitten. She said to tell you that your Grandma said “Hello!” And that Greta should never lose her mittens. Toby looked down at Greta’s mitten that he held in his hand. He smiled. He would make sure of it. He would make sure his sister Greta always had her mittens.