Klara hummed as she gazed up at the darkened sky while snowflakes—large as fairy slippers—landed on her forehead, her nose, her cheeks. The flakes melted, as flakes do, and icy water ran from her cheeks down her neck and she stopped humming.
“Fi-ickle snots,” she shuddered, glaring at the sky. “Why today of all days? It’s my birthday and your clouds are hiding my stars—my home!”
From over in the big oak, she felt the barred owl stare at her with his black penetrating eyes, twisting his head this way and that, snorting and sighing at her unseemly brashness towards his sky. Though it was too dark in the nun’s old garden for her to see him properly, she knew he was there—glaring.
“Love you too, Owl!” Her breath floated up in a cloud of mist. It’d gotten cold. And late. Why hadn’t her dad, Mr. Tippins, brought down her telescope already? Sure, now with the snow falling, it could be argued a telescope was of little use. Still, weren’t they wondering where she was, Klara being the birthday girl and all? If she had a cellphone she’d call them, but Mother wouldn’t let her. Imagine, thirteen years on this planet and still no phone!
Peering up at her family’s apartment, Klara double-wrapped her scarf to keep melted snow from dripping down her neck. Being an old, refurbished convent, the windows were tall and narrow with wrought-iron framing. Pointlessly, she waved with her mitted hand, hoping against hope, that someone might wave back. But nothing. Of course. Just brightly lit, creepy windows.
Of the three buildings surrounding the courtyard, theirs was the middle one, giving them a superior view of the valley of Pennington. In Pennington people shopped in boutiques and sat with friends at cafes drinking coffee and never once considered living high on a hill in some old nunnery. Mother, of course, didn’t mind living far away from everyone and everything because, ‘gee whiz, Klara, we don’t have to look up at anybody!’
The hat on her head began to slide. Reflexively, she grabbed hold and balanced it to its sweet spot. Stretched and wonky, this required both skill and patience, though Klara had had plenty of practice. It was the only hat she had and the source of much ridicule at school. Having once been Mother’s hat, not only was it large, it also reeked of hairspray and was frighteningly beige.
As it slid once more, she let it go. It landed in the snow with a silent poof and Klara stared at if for a moment, then she bent down and, humming sweetly, smoothed it over with her mitten, covering it completely.
Loud thumps from the main door interrupted her artistry.
Probably. Probably it was Mr. Tippins trying to open the massive church door to finally come see her.