Island Gyal / Snowy Hill

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"Woah!" Shandra yelped while struggling to keep her balance. Her arms flailed wildly as she fell to the cold, hard, icy ground with a loud thud. Her three cousins cackled and guffawed like wild hyenas at her misfortune. She cussed at them with her thick Trinidadian accent. While struggling to get back up to her feet, she slipped again like a newborn deer trying to walk for the first time. That just made them laugh harder.

Lincoln, the eldest cousin, stood over her and stretched his hand out offering to help her up. He tried his best to conceal his amusement by closing his mouth tightly. That didn't work. A few snickers escaped his lips. Normally, Shandra's pride would compel her to refuse the help. However, navigating the icy and snowy terrain of this dirt road would take far too long without it.

Shandra reluctantly grabbed his hand with her red mitten. He yanked her up to her feet and held her by the waist to make sure she didn't fall again.

"I'm done. You boys had your little fun laughing at me. I'm waiting for you in the car." Shandra turned around to walk back down the road.

"Oh no, no, no" said Malcolm, as he stepped in front of her. "You said you wanted the full Canadian winter experience. There's no way you're getting out of here without tobogganing at least once." Shandra rolled her eyes as she remembered that phone conversation.

When she had seen Winter in the movies, it looked like so much fun. People frolicking in the snow, singing carols, having snowball fights, and making snow angels. Even tobogganing was something she wanted to experience.

Earlier in the year, she decided to take a year off to do some travelling before going to university. Seeing her uncle's family in Canada was a priority. They hadn't seen her in over ten years. Lincoln is in his first year of university, Malcolm is three years younger than Lincoln, and Sheldon is one year away from starting high school. When she had called them to announce that she would be visiting, everyone was extremely excited. They assumed that she would visit during Summer. After she made it clear that she would be visiting during Winter, they responded with skepticism.

"Your island blood can't handle a Canadian winter" teased Malcolm.

"Oh really, Malcolm? Ye of little faith. I'll show you. I want to experience everything a Canadian winter has to offer. You better make sure that happens. Alright?"

It didn't take long for her to regret those words. When the first blast of cold air had crashed into her face the moment she walked out of the airport, all thoughts of experiencing a winter wonderland vanished. Her mind's desires were reduced to seeking warmth and comfort as soon as possible. The month long vacation was filled with watching movies under triple layers of comforters, drinking hot tea, taking hot baths, and avoiding the outdoors by any means necessary. She even found a new appreciation for hot chocolate and little round donuts from a coffee shop called Tim Horton's. It was everywhere. If her Canadian experience started and ended there, she would have been ecstatic. Unfortunately for her, her cousins wouldn't allow that.

When she was obligated to go somewhere with her uncle's family, a mad dash to the car and pleading to turn up the heat was always followed by a mad dash out of the car to the warmth of the indoors when they arrived at their destination. Luckily for her, in this unusually snowless winter, she had been able to avoid the white stuff...until now. One week away from her return to her island home, a massive snowstorm blanketed the region as if Mother Nature needed to make amends for all of the snowless weeks before it. Her cousins, especially Malcolm, were not going to let her get on the plane without experiencing the wonders of snow to the fullest.

"So up the hill you go," ordered Malcolm pointing forward. Shandra cussed at him under her breath. Sometimes his teasing and sarcasm could be charming. Today, she was having none of it.

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