Reason opened the door. She took a step forward, her jaw dropped.
“Bloody hell,” she said.
Reason didn’t know what she was looking at. It was not her grandmother’s back yard. There were trees but they had no leaves. They were brown and barren like after a bushfire. But it wasn’t hot. It was as though the summer had vanished.
There was white everywhere. On the ground, clinging to the branches of the trees. Reason looked down at her feet. She was standing in white, and it was cold. Her grandmother’s back porch had disappeared. She was at the top of a few white steps, looking across at a row of buildings that shouldn’t have been there.
It wasn’t her grandmother’s back yard. It wasn’t even day time. The light was wrong. The sky was orangey-grey and she couldn’t see the sun. Was it night? Then why were there no stars? No moon? Was it an eclipse? Had the sky been sucked away? Had the world ended, as she stepped from kitchen to porch?
The world had definitely been turned upside down. Nothing she could see or feel made any sense. Daytime and summer, both had vanished.
The buildings opposite looked like something out of an Escher drawing. There was a rickety iron staircase attached to the outside of each one. Reason wondered if there were stairs inside too. Or maybe they were on the outside because someone forgot about them? But they weren’t even done right. The staircases started too high, even to jump up. Maybe this was a land of kangaroo-people?
In front of the buildings were large white blobs. What on Earth were they?
Soft wet drops hit Reason’s face, and landed in her still-open mouth. Like rain, only softer. The air was full of white drops, like feathers or petals, floating through the air.
Reason walked down the steps watching the gorgeous white dust dancing all around her. She caught some on her tongue and felt it dissolve. She shivered. It tasted like cold, wet air. Reason loved it.
“Snow,” she said excitedly, proud of herself for figuring it out. “It’s snow.” Reason had never seen so much snow before. In fact, she had never seen any snow before. Traveling with her mother across the outback, she’d met small kids who’d never seen rain.
She spun round and round with her arms stretched, feeling the snow against her bare arms and legs. The brown, green, red houses, the railings, the strange staircases, a mustached face in stone, all flashed by, obscured by the falling snowflakes. She came to a stop, panting.
The big white blobs were cars, she was sure. But they were covered in snow. She was looking at a street. A strange street, certainly, with such tall houses all crowded together, but definitely a street.
The snow, the cold, it was exhilarating. She couldn’t help it–she had to run. Reason sprinted along the footpath, feeling the snow, deliciously cool and soft, splatter against her face, the crunchy dampness of it underneath her bare feet. It felt absolutely fabulous. No wonder people in books liked winter. If this was winter, she liked it too. Then she turned to run back.
That was when Reason realized she didn’t know where “back” was. Stretched out behind her was a row of houses, just like on the other side of the street. They all looked so similar with their iron railings and stone steps. Reason hadn’t thought to notice which house she’d come out of.
At that exact moment Reason also realized she was shivering. Her T-shirt and shorts were soaked. She had no shoes. Snow was cold. She was cold. Very cold.
The snow started coming down even harder.