(36) Black, White, and Pink

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"Seb, I swear on God's name, if you break your spine for real, I'm painting your whole chair yellow and putting a 'Caution: Idiot Driving' sign on the back," hollers Rose down the length of the tobogganing hill.

"The doc said I did well with exercise," Sebastian hollers back, with all the wild abandon of one currently engaged in the construction of a toboggan chain six sleds long. I cover my mouth so Rose won't hear my stifled laughter. This was my sister's project to start, but anyone who knows both Brooklyn and Sebastian should have guessed this would be the outcome from the moment they collaborated.

At least Sebastian isn't wrong. He can army crawl now, thanks at least in part to a winter of shenanigans including but not limited to rolling around in the snow and playing tug-o-war with Jeriah's family's dog, Penny. The Redding had the grace—or made the mistake—of leaving him with half sensation and very limited mobility from the waist down. He'll never walk again. But tobogganing is not off the table.

"Doctor Fung will have just as many words for you as I will," hollers Rose.

"I love you!"

"If you break a leg, you're still on for dinner tonight!"

It's a lost cause, but that was never the point. With a final cheery wave from Sebastian, the toboggan chain creeps over the crest of the hill and zooms off in a cloud of shrieks and pale pink snow. The Redding, even inert, is taking some time to flush out of the water system. It's lighter than salt water, but not fresh, so it's been making its way to the ocean slowly. Back to where it came from. In the meantime, it's stained all overland precipitation for months already. Even the clouds are pink sometimes.

Rose grumbles, but waits long enough to make sure the pulley system is working properly before she strides back towards the house. I rejoin Ditzy at the top of the pulley. My sister is booking it up the hill towards us, scrambling on all fours when the snow sends her down. It would be easier if she didn't insist on carrying her snow saucer instead of towing it behind her, but who am I to judge the safety of icy hillsides?

Brooklyn arrives in front of us flushed and panting. "Hi, T. Hi Ana," she says, then hollers down the hill, "Ready!"

Sebastian settles himself in the pulley cart—a sled done up with a backrest facing uphill. "Bombs away!"

"Bye, T. Bye, Ana!"

Brooklyn clips the rope to the dog-walking belt she appropriated from somewhere, leaps into the saucer, and careens back down the hill. She and Sebastian high-five on his way up at the other end of the pulley. Ditzy helps him out at the top. He's got his favorite towing-sled in hand, and transfers to it as Brooklyn, Patrick, Jeriah, my grandfather, my aunt, J's dad, and an assortment of cousins arrive at the top of the hill in front of us. They grab Seb's shoulders and storm away, whooping, back towards the toboggan run. Penny bounds after them. She's been having the time of her life dashing up and down the hill after all of her favorite people. Seb's in good hands.

"Did you catch any internet?" says Ditzy as she returns once again to her spot beside me. Snow poofs around her as she plops down.

"A little. Enough to check."

"And?"

"Well, we think they're transferring all programs to Devonshire State University further inland, but that's just speculation at this point. They say it'll be another year before any post-secondary from around the coasts is up and running again. 'Sincere apologies' and all that."

Ditzy snorts. "Didn't they have to replace one hundred percent of their staff at the coastals?"

"I'm pretty sure they're getting hit harder by their antique administrative processes than that, actually. They say they're staffed already."

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