Chapter 43: Collette Lives Like Water ACT IV of IV of FAMILIES
“Wheeee!” Ilona lets out as she pulls up to her friends house. Maybe she is channeling her inner Madison because of the scrunchie, or maybe it is just the last hour and a bit of craziness in her system, but Ilona loves to give the air a little shout.
Ringing the doorbell and secretly wondering who will answer this time, Ilona waits patiently. And she is definitely surprised, but not by the who, but by what the who is wearing.
Collette, standing before her covered in snow, grinning from ear to ear, and sporting a construction hardhat, which is also littered with snow.
“Ilona! Come on in! We have the most amazing project going on today!” Collette exclaims as she beckons Ilona in.
“Thank you,” Ilona states as she comes in and takes her backpack off, “and not to point out the obvious, but you are covered in snow.”
Collette jumps up and down in excitement, causing bits of snow and ice to fall off and plop down on the floor, a situation that she seems to not even notice. “I know! Isn’t that exciting! It’s all to do with our special project! Come on silly, you have to see this!”
Grabbing Ilona’s hands just as she was unzipping her backpack, Collette drags her through the front hall and kitchen till the reach the patio doors at the back of the house, trailing snow behind them. And Ilona sees the special project.
“This!” Collette proudly shouts, raising their hands in triumph, “this is awesome!”
“Yes, yes it is,” Ilona stares, her mouth open and eyes wide, “truly awesome!”
Ilona sees in Collette’s backyard a huge snow fort. A colossal mound with an entrance hole dug out of the front, and a way smaller hole near the top, and the look of the greatest snow creation since Madison’s magic at Christmas. Milling about around it are Collette’s parents, busy cleaning up the work area.
“How?” Ilona turns to Collette and babbles, “What? Why?”
“You forgot the where, my backyard. And the who, my mom and dad and I,” Collette laughs, shaking their still raised hands. This makes more snow and ice fall off of Collette, and again she never notices.
“Okay,” Ilona laughs, “lets start at the beginning, you wake us this morning and decide to build this? And wrangle your parents into it as well?”
“Exactly like that, but the complete opposite!” Collette smirks.
“Okay…” Ilona replies, quickly realizing she is now becoming lost in everything that is happening.
“This morning I got up and right away skyped with Susan in New York. She is loving her trip and everything and plans to send you an email asking about those edits for her Lost finale. I told her that was good and all, but did she reply to the latest text message from Samantha? It has been almost twenty four hours after all. Sus–” Collette babbles out at superspeed.
“Woah, woah, woah,” Ilona holds up her other hand and makes a halt signal. “None of that,” she points at Collette, “has anything to do with that,” and Ilona moves her finger to indicate the massive snow fort. “And also, how much coffee have you had today?”
Collette giggles. “No coffee silly! Only one cup of tea, earl grey, hot, while I was skyping this morning.”
“Oh okay,” Ilona replies, rolling her eyes.
“Now where was I? Yes! Sus–” Collette continues.
“THE SNOW FORT!” Ilona shouts, slapping her free hand onto the patio door while shaking the other hand, making even more snow fall from Collette.
“Yes, the snow fort, I was getting to that. So originally the plan for today was to help my dad refurbish some old computers and soup up some software. You know, the usual.” Collette shrugs, causing a clump of ice to leave her shoulder.
“And that became a snow fort?” Ilona suddenly glances at the mound outside, “are those fixed computers inside? Is this some sort of frozen computer lab or something?”
“No! But that would be awesome to try!” Collette gasps and slaps her free hand over her mouth, wiping a small trail of snow bits at Ilona. “Ooops! Sorry!” Collette says quietly.
Ilona taps her hand on the glass again, pointing at the snow fort.
“Yes, back to that. Anyway, my dad had a super secret other plan for today. He decided we should build a snow fort! All proper and made to specifications and everything!” Collette exclaims loudly.
“Their are specifications for snow forts?” Ilona asks in surprise.
“Of course! The difference between a just okay one and a sturdy one is all in how you construct it. First you gets lots of snow in your backyard and make it into a hugs pile, than you freeze it by spraying cold water onto it, next you dig out the tunnel and living area inside–” Collette rambles off all her facts with a quick efficiency.
“Living area?” Ilona interrupts, still trying to take it all in.
“Where else would you go when the blizzard hits and you need to build a fire?” Collette states. “Anyway, we than made the chimney hole at an angle on the roof, all so rain can’t get in but smoke from the fire can leave. Next, we made the barrier at the entrance, all to stop any wind from chilling us inside.” Collette finishes and looks at her family’s creation through the window. “It is truly magnificent,” she sighs.
Ilona looks out the window as well and agrees. “It is truly magnificent,” she says, than looks back at her friend, “you should be proud.”
Collette beams at Ilona. “Thank you.”
The two friends let their eyes go back to the snow structure, hands still joined in the air, taking a moment to enjoy the accomplishment, a wonderful combination of water and love.
“Oh yes!” Collette suddenly remembers, “we took pictures every step of the way. It’s going to be a massive photo album on facebook! Even some videos!”
“And a great clip for the next Clara’s Corner,” Ilona adds.
“YES!” Collette shouts, her mouth wide, “That would be amazing!”
“Show the world your greatness with your parents,” Ilona says.
“But wait,” Collette slaps her free hand onto her cheek this time, again flinging some snow at Ilona, “Where are my manners? You haven’t seen it yet! And I have to get everyone else over soon to see it and play in it and pretend its Hogwarts castle and–” she speeds out.
“Um, Collette, babbling again. Time to go see your incredible snow fort,” Ilona cuts in with a smile.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Collette slide open the patio door and drags Ilona outside, almost yanking her friends arm out of the socket in the process.
“Mom! Dad! Ilona is here! And she loves our snow fort! She thinks we should put it on Youtube!” Collette shouts out breathlessly.
“Hello Ilona,” Collette’s dad waves, “liking our hidden fortress?”
“Hello Ilona my dear,” Collette’s mom says as she gives Ilona a hug.
“Hello sir, hello m’amm,” Ilona says as he hugs Collette’s mom, “love the snow fort.”
“Isn’t it something?” Collette’s dad smiles as he waves at it.
“But where’s Doyle?” Ilona asks, looking around confused.
“Call him,” Collette smirks.
“DOYLE!” Ilona shouts.
A split second later, Doyle struts out of the snow fort and runs up to Ilona, tail wagging and tongue hanging out. Doyle than jumps up on Ilona, all so she can pet him.
“He’s been inside relaxing ever since we finished the darn thing an hour ago,” Collette’s dad laughs, “thinks it’s his second home.”
“You know what?” Ilona says to Collette while still petting Doyle. “What if I got a picture of all of you with the snow fort?”
“Yes! We still have not done that yet!” Collette exclaims.
Minute later, Ilona has the digital camera and is herding Collette, Collette’s parents, and Doyle all in front of their creation. “Say snow fort!” she shouts and than clicks away twice, just to be sure.
“Now we shall party!” Collette does a little dance, which causes Doyle to bark in happiness.
For the next hour, time revolves around Ilona, Collette, Doyle, and the snow fort, now dubbed Hogwarts. Some debate started off when the friends could not decide whether Doyle should be Hagrid or Nearly Headless Nick. Eventually Hagrid won out. Playing, running around, wresting inside, and attempting to build a moat for Hogwarts the Snow Fort, the title now made official by a quickly hand drawn sign, becomes the norm around Collette’s family’s creation. After awhile, parts of A Very Potter Musical were re-enacted, very out of tune, and quickly it morphs into If I Were A Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof, which soon gives way to a mixed up medley of Joss Whedon songs. But after singing and dancing inside and outside of the snow fort, with an occasional howl breaking in as well, Hogwarts suddenly became a flying moving castle. With the snow on the ground acting as clouds and Doyle/Hagrid “steering” as they embark on a quest to find Gandalf’s horse. Or was it to rescue the Serenity? The details blur as the excitement and fun of Hogwarts the now flying Snow Fortress zips into the young girls lives, making today the best day ever.
When they are finally, reluctantly dragged inside the house by Collette’s mother, the two are cold and tired and really have to sit down. Doyle, Ilona notices, is none of these things and wants to keep going. “He has fur, which is probably not as warm as long underwear,” Collette sighs as she strips off her first layer of what looks like five to Ilona.
As they sit down, Collette’s mom hands the two steaming cups of hot chocolate, one each and filled with little marshmellows. Collette clicks on her laptop and uploads the pictures from the day onto it. Soon she and Ilona are viewing tons and tons of shots showcasing the evolution of the empty backyard into the spectacle it is now. And every couple of pictures, Ilona could see Doyle lurking around or just plain getting into mischief. After quickly reviewing them all, Collette jumps online and puts together a new photo album on facebook, with the first like coming from Madison of course. A glance at their friend’s pages shows Cynthia’s room redo entering an even more chaotic phase and Susan checking into not one, but two comic shops in New York City. Also, a pic of Ilona was unaware of, with her “helping” Hermione fly graces Madison’s page.
“That was incredible and amazing and, and… I just realized now how tired I am,” Collette sighs.
“Duh, I wonder why,” Ilona rolls her eyes.
“That was a good duh,” Collette replies giggling.
“Thank you,” Ilona giggles back, “but I really should get going now. I had a great time today.’
“As did I my friend, as did I,” Collette smiles.
Making their way back to the front hall, Ilona sees her half open bag from hours ago and remembers. Pulling out the book The Illustrated Man, she hands it back to Collette.
“I loved this. It was my first Ray Bradbury,” Ilona states, then realizes a question she has never asked her friend. “Is this your favourite book?”
Collette holds the book lovingly to her chest in a hug. “This is a great book. This is an incredible book. But, it is not my favourite. That honour goes to Zen and the Art of Writing, also by Bradbury.” She smiles a goofy tired look as she talks.
“Really? Never heard of it. Why?” Ilona asks.
Collette suddenly has an energy about her and a smooth sound to her voice. “Bradbury wants you to, lectures you to, get up every mourning and explode with greatness, and to go with the flow of whatever that greatness is that day. Today I was all set to rebuild some electronic brains and make some quantum miracles, but instead I helped make a castle of snow and ice and dreams. Taking whatever your genius is and applying it where you can, for what you can, whether with circuit boards or frozen water, is a mark of quality. Bradbury wants greatness, hence why I love the book.”
Ilona stares at Collette for several seconds, taking in and trying to understand everything her friend has said. “I think I got all that. I might ask you to explain that again, but not today,” Ilona laughs.
“No problem,” Collette laughs as well, giving Ilona a hug goodbye.
Wearing the scrunchie now, Ilona bikes through the side streets, careful of the snow, ice and gunky slush that pops up on all the sidewalks every few minutes. Soon she is home and the bike is nestled in the apartment. Working at her usual superspeed, Ilona makes dinner, sets the table, and most importantly, empties and organizes the contents of her backpack. All the while, the events of the day keep moving through her mind, thinking about how her friends, and even those she has just met, live and breathe and exist every day. Her family had to deal with a child who died and Ilona having trouble, but others have alcoholism and vanishing parents striking home. And some rise above the turmoil of unfair unemployment and still makes life livable, or realize their greatest issue is having the love of a sister. When the door swings open clattering as usual, the loud voice of her mother shouting “Hello Ilona! We’re Ba–” is interrupted by Ilona slamming into both parents with a massive hug.
“Our little one who is not so little anymore is squishing us to death,” her dad says while tilting his head back and forth.
“And stealing Maddie’s scrunchies,” her mom says pointing to Ilona’s hair, “so why do we deserve this attack with hugs?”
Ilona pulls out of the hug and beams at her parents. “I had the most amazing, fascinating day Mumma and Poppa! I can’t wait to tell you about it!”
After a prolonged dinner, filled with tales of lost smartphones returned, Joy and Lidia hunting her down, a chair being hidden, and the Hogwart’s Snow Fortress saving the universe, her parents stated they may ask Ilona to repeat all this again. And maybe again after that as well.
By the end of the night, Ilona’s mom comes into her room. “Heya kiddo, wanna talk for a minute?”
Ilona puts the laptop aside, after hitting save on the edits she had just completed on Susan’s Lost finale, and waves her mother in.
As her mom sits down, she starts touching Ilona’s hair. “Do you want to know what’s really cool? Seeing my daughter dance and smile and laugh and push hard to ride her bike in the snow and about a million other things that she does every day. Things she would have never done a year ago. Things she is doing because she wants to, has to, because it feels like it was always in her blood.”
“Mumma, thank you, but I don’t understand why you are telling me this now,” Ilona whispers.
Her mother smiles. “Remember when I gave you that poem, A New Life? Remember how it was given to me by my mother?”
Ilona nods, her mother still playing with her hair.
“She gave it to me the day you were born,” her mother smiles, “do you want to hear the story of that beautiful day?”
Ilona nods again, her mother’s fingers still alive if her hair.
And Ilona’s mother tells her the story of the day they became a family.
Song For This Chapter: When There’s Time For Love by Lawrence Gowan
New Storyline Starts Next Week!
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.