15th February

The Snowball

‘Hang on,’ he said. ‘Something’s happened.’

He put down the phone and went into the front room, where the noise had come from. He’d heard it as she was speaking. Like a stone dropping into thick mud. He’d known at once it wasn’t from within the house.

The shutters were open, the lights on. In one of the big windowpanes a web of cracks radiated out from a central hole. Traces of snow were sliding down the glass.

‘Fuck’s sake,’ he said. It was half past ten at night. He went back to the phone. ‘I’ll call you back.’ Outside, the path from the front door was slushy, and immediately his slippers were soaked. He looked up and down the street. Everything he did seemed seconds too late. Had he really heard running feet, stifled laughter? He peered up the dark lane across the way, but could see no one.

From the pavement the room was a bright and tempting target. A scoop of snow was missing from the roof of his car.

Fucking kids. It wasn’t the first time either. There’d been a football once; ended up in the back of the television. And earlier that week he’d yelled at a group of them after a snowball had thunked against the bedroom window. It wasn’t malicious, he was pretty sure. It was just stupid.

He returned inside and pressed redial. He explained the situation.

‘Call the police,’ she said. ‘Right now.’

‘I’m just going to.’

They didn’t go through all the stuff they would go through later: how it was only a snowball, nobody was hurt, it was overkill getting the police involved. What else could he do – except nothing? But he was angry, and the wee bastards had run off and even if he knew where or who they were he couldn’t go after them like some vigilante. Anyway, without the police he couldn’t make an insurance claim.

‘Don’t get stressed,’ she said.

‘I’m okay,’ he said. ‘I could just do without this right now.’

A cold draught was blowing through the hole in the window. It was a kind of violation. He felt it against his face, the chill invading the house.

Reader: Iona Zajac
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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