Missive From the Snow Globe by Charlotte Matthews

Not sure how we got here. But here is where we are. My next-door neighbor, Sarah, and her little sister Pearl, and me. We were eating cereal at their red kitchen table, the light of January moving across the wall where their parakeets, Peet and Repeat, lunge sporadically around their cage. We were at the kitchen table one moment. And the next we were inside this snow globe.

Photo of green and yellow parakeet
Parakeet by PINKE (flicr.com). CC license.

On the floor is a circular rug, red and pink with miniature roses, probably wool, like the rugs at the store where Mom works. To the left of that is a coffee table and, on it: a can of Aqua Net, purple bottle with a logo: the all-weather hairspray. There are books galore, big, fat books with gold lettering on their spines. Books about windows and glass. Books about how to fix things. One book called The Way Things Work which has illustrations. There are pads of yellow lined paper and pencils, so it looks like maybe we are meant to take notes. How all this fits together I cannot even begin to guess. I’m thinking we must have shrunken, but everything looks about the right size. And there’s nothing really to compare it all to. We can’t see outside.

At first Pearl starts crying, like real hard, her face all red. But then Sarah tells her we are just playing a game. Tells her that since she’d been eating Lucky Charms, their magic deliciousness must have made all this happen. And that seems to make her feel better. At least for a moment.

At school, Mr. Van Nuys teaches geography by holding a globe and calling us one by one to the front of the room. He’ll name a place and we have sixty seconds to tap our index finger on the exact spot. If we get it in less than sixty seconds, he’ll throw in a second location. He’ll say Tegucigalpa. And if we point to that correctly, he’ll say, Carson City, Nevada. We get one point per place we find, and at the end of the year if we have collectively gotten 500 points, we will have an ice cream party. So far, all I’ve found is Dallas, Texas, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which made me kind of proud. Mr. Van Nuys said those two places do not have a lot in common except the heat. He’s always slipping in little facts in the middle of geography lessons. Yesterday he said that in the southeast African county, Malawi, children are deemed ready to go to school when their arms are long enough to reach over their heads and touch the opposite ear. Just take a moment to think that one through.

School’s the best part of the week, aside from Ice Cream Sunday, my weekly outing from Meemaw. She’s my grandmother, and she collects glass paper weights. A lot of them are hand blown and have figures inside: flowers and seashells. I love to look at them and hold them up to the light. That’s what I tell Pearl about when she looks like she is getting ready to start crying again. I tell her about the one with an orchid bloom that has bubbles, miniature air bubbles that look like tiny gems. I tell her it’s a miracle, that red orchid so bright and cheerful kept under glass. I tell her—and myself—that that’s what this is, a chance encounter with something magical and permanent. And we should cherish our time here.

Photo of snow globe
Snow Globe by Nick Harris. CC license.

But I am getting hungry and starting to wonder just how long this is going to last. Or if Sarah’s mom might start looking for us. Seems unlikely. So, I come up with this idea. I tell Sarah and Pearl that we should all count to three and then yell let us out at the top of our lungs. We do this five times, waiting the appropriate amount of time between yells, but nothing comes of it.

So that’s why I’m writing this letter. Took one of the pads of yellow paper with blue lines, a nice sharp pencil, and wrote out these words. I hope you can read them. And that you like my pictures on the side of dogs. They are my favorite animal, and the St. Bernard is my favorite breed. They are gentle giants, can weigh over 150 pounds. They are named after the St. Bernard Pass in the Alps between Italy and Switzerland.

This note is a plea for help. If you read it, will you give us a sign? You can slip a reply under the glass. But please write on a colored piece of paper since there’s white confetti strewn literally everywhere on the floor. If you are reading this, thanks for whatever you can do to give us a clue.

That’s it for now. Annabelle.

Charlotte Matthews
Charlotte Matthews is the author of two full length collection of poetry, Still Enough to Be Dreaming (forthcoming November 2007) and Green Stars (Iris Publishing Group). She is also the author of two chapbooks, A Kind of Devotion (Palanquin Press, 2004) and Biding Time (Half Moon Bay Press, 2005). Her work has recently appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Borderlands, Ecotone, Tar River Poetry, and storySouth. Most recently she received the 2007 New Writers Award from the Fellowship for Southern Writers. She is a graduate of The University of Virginia and The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She teaches in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary and Professional Studies at the University of Virginia.

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