I'm laughing and I'm not sure why. Well, some people laugh out of nervousness or embarrassment so I guess that makes sense. But, I'm also lying on the sidewalk on a burning sheet of ice in a whirlwind of a blizzard and with hills of snow emanating around me. My feet had flung upwards and had come back down so quickly that it all seems pretty funny...until I sense the pain creeping up in my left hand.
Maybe I twisted it when I fell, but it doesn't matter because I need to get this snow shoveled out of the way before we are completely trapped within our own home.
"Humza!" I yell at my brother, a dark gray figure several feet away. He huffs forward, the layered clothing making it difficult for him to move swiftly.
"Get me up," I command him, stretching out my arm. He takes my mitten and pulls me up to my feet again. I rub my hand, but the cold has made me numb again.
"I can't do this anymore," Humza sighs, kneeling on the shovel. I remove speckles of snow that have gathered on my face with the sleeve of my coat.
"It hasn't even been ten minutes," I tell him. "Abu has been shoveling for two hours straight."
"But he also told us not to step out," Humza pouts. I roll my eyes at his immaturity. Of course Abu wouldn't want us to go through that trouble, but he couldn't be the only one out in the blizzard.
"We'll make a giant snowman," I cheer him, encouraging him to keep going. The snow had not yet subsided and I had no idea when Abu would wake up again. He had fell asleep in an exhausted state, warning us to stay inside.
Ten minutes later, my entire face has gone numb and I feel the hairs within my nose freeze. "Still wanna make that snowman?" I ask Humza.
"No freaking way," he replies, trudging towards our front door. It takes the both of us to get it open fully.
"I've got green tea for both of you," Ammi greets us inside. I'm not a huge fan of green tea, but I grab the warm cup as soon as I see it. The liquid soothes me as it passes down my throat.
I take off my black and gray mittens and examine my wrist. It is all red and as my body adjusts to the warmth, I feel less numb and more pain.
"You got hurt?" Ammi asks, eying me.
"I fell. Is there ice?" I ask.
My skin seems to flare up in fire once the ice makes contact with it, but it feels better after a couple minutes.
"Ahmed is stuck at work," Ammi informs me.
"Why in the world would he go to work when he knew there was going to be a blizzard?" I ask, shaking my head. Mariyam's brother could be very idiotic sometimes.
"Apparently he had to," Ammi replies, stirring something in a pot. She has a stack of candles and matches ready in one cabinet in case the light goes out.
"Lake Shore Drive is completely blocked," Humza announces from the living room. Ammi and I join him to watch the television news. It seems like a nightmare, but I think it would be pretty cool to get stranded in the middle of the day in a blizzard. It seemed better than getting stuck at work.
Abu wakes up, red-eyed, heading towards the door. I hope he doesn't bump into anything; it appears like he's sleepwalking and focused on the single task of shoveling.
"They've already shoveled for now," Ammi stops him and he seems to awaken. He messes up mine and Humza's hair in an expression of gratitude.
"Abu! You ruined my hair!" I tease, trying to pat it down again. It's frizzy again, but that probably has to do with the extensive amount of heat warming us inside the house.
I really should use this free day to catch up on homework but I'm too lazy. Besides, I don't think I've ever had a snow day. We were always obligated to attend school, even if it was below zero. It wasn't like Georgia or Florida, where only five inches snow resulted in immediate closing of schools.
"Come on Skype," I text Anum, but she does not respond. Laila is busy shoveling snow around her driveway.
Humza starts up his new Wii, which he got for his birthday last week. I made sure to hint to my parents that they better get me an equally expensive gift for my birthday or else I would accuse them of favoritism. Not that I haven't on previous occasions, but still.
"Let's play tennis," I suggest.
"No I want to play basketball," he retorts.
"Fine," I stick my tongue out at him and leave to join Ammi in the kitchen. I feel bored to death, isolated at home. I grab a brownie mix from the cupboard and decide to make some and not share any with Humza.
"Where is he?" I hear Abu in the hallway, his voice calm as he talks with someone over the phone. Apparently, someone was very stressed on the other line.
"Give me his cell number. I'll talk to him. There's a Walgreens just two minutes from my house."
"What happened?" Ammi ask Abu after he hangs up, but he is focused on dialing a number.
"This boy is an idiot. He goes out into the blizzard to buy medicine for his father and gets stuck at the store."
I shrug my shoulders, placing the brownies in the oven and text Anum again. As long as no one is dying, no one should be complaining, right?
At the hospital. Talk 2 u later. Anum scares me with this text.
Omg what happened? U ok?
Sarah fell. Not a big deal I examine my wrist and wonder if I should be in the Emergency Room also. Probably not. I can't stand hospitals.
Ammi calls to check up on my grandma across the street and our neighbors. The brownies look done but I want them a little more crisp.
"You're going to walk out there?" I hear Ammi yell at Abu a while later.
"He's stuck in there and the father's dying of worry," Abu explains.
"He's not five. And are other peoples' kids more important than your own family? My mother's sidewalks are still full of snow!" Ammi is exasperated and I'm not sure who to side with.
"Iman and Humza can do that," Abu suggests and I suddenly sense the cramping in my arms.
"No. Next time, just don't even ask me anything. Do whatever you do. Just go. Leave," Ammi sighs in defeat.
"How can you stop me from helping someone?" it's Abu's turn to yell. I step into their room while Abu walks out and he shakes his head at me. Ammi mutters something under her breath, folding the dried laundry.
Humza's too busy playing so I wrap myself up in a hijab, two hoodies, and a coat. The worst of the storm seems to be over but it has left a monstrous amount of snow behind. Cars on our street are buried in white, only small spots of color peeking out. A lot of people are outside and some have even placed chairs to designate their cleared parking spots.
"You making your parents proud?" Mr. Willamson calls out to me. He lives two houses down from us.
I smile at him though I doubt he can see that close up. "It's a nice workout," I reply and ask him about his family.
About twenty minutes later, I feel satisfied internally, but my entire body is sore. I cross the street to head towards my own house, careful to avoid large piles of snow.
I see two figures walking towards me. One is clearly Abu, with the navy blue winter hat. But the other figure, I can't seem to decipher, although it is obvious it is the boy Abu "rescued."
Closer up, Abu is panting and I grab the spare shovel he has in his hand to relieve him. But I stop mid-step as I see who he is with.
His eyes widen in recognition at the same time mine does.
"Tariq?" I ask doubtfully.