Kaite skipped down the stairs into her living room, her favorite summer dress bouncing and twirling around her as she jumped over the last three steps and landed with a graceful thud. She tried to ignore the view out her living room windows as she made her way to the kitchen to find her family.
“Kaite…” said her mom and she braced for the scolding. “There’s three feet of snow on the ground. Why are you wearing your summer dress?”
“Because I’m tired of snow. I want summer! It’s supposed to be summer.”
Her mom sighed, she sighed a lot these days. “We all do, sweetie. But you know Queen Rona cursed us all to eternal winter.” She set a bowl of cereal at Kaite’s place at the table but Kaite shook her head.
“I’m not hungry, mom.” Kaite watched her mom shrug and go back to the sink. She didn’t turn on music or do a fun little dance like she did when she was trying to make her daughter feel better. She just stood there, staring out the window at the snow that had already been falling for weeks.
“We have to do something!” Kaite declared. “You’re so sad! Dad is sad…my brothers are sad…” she looked down at her favorite pair of shoes that hadn’t been outside in weeks, “Even my shoes are sad!”
“There’s nothing we can do, Kaite,” said her mom quietly, “Queen Rona has spoken. She’s convinced there is no kindness or warmth left in the world so she shut us all in our homes with a neverending snowstorm.”
Kaite bowed her head and headed into the living room. No one seemed to think there was any way to lift this curse and no matter what she did, everyone was getting sadder and sadder. It was like the cold outside was making everyone’s hearts cold too. Kaite missed smiles. She missed laughing. She missed her friends and her aunts and uncles. She missed seeing her family happy.
She plopped down on the couch in front of the window and stared at the white world surrounding her house. The situation sure did seem hopeless but there had to be something she could do.
While she was thinking, she spotted her elderly neighbor across the street struggling to shovel some of the snow off of her front steps. She wasn’t making much progress. She moved so slow that by the time she got one step done, the one behind it was covered in snow again.
Then Kaite had an idea. She jumped up and grabbed her winter hat and scarf, not bothering with boots or her coat. “Mom! I’m going outside, I’ll be right back!”
Before her mom could answer, she was out of the front door. She barely noticed the cold as she trudged through the snow toward her neighbor’s house.
“Hello, Mrs. Gables. Do you need some help?”
Mrs. Gables looked surprised to see another person out of their house but she gave a small smile when she saw Kaite, “Hello, Dear. Some help would be lovely. My poor little pup doesn’t have anywhere to go potty with the snow so high.”
She handed the shovel to Kaite and Kaite dug in. It only took her a minute to clear each step and before she knew it, the stairs, the sidewalk, and a square section in the grass were cleared of snow. Mrs. Gables looked over Kaite’s work and as she did, the corners of her mouth lifted into a smile, a real smile. Not just a smirk, but a joyful grin that radiated warmth and made her cheeks red. As Kaite watched her smile grow and felt the warmth coming from the woman’s heart, she glanced down at her feet and noticed that the snow she hadn’t been able to clear was melting.
“Oh, Kaite,” said Mrs. Gables, “This was so nice of you. I feel better than I have in weeks.” As she talked, the melting spread from around their feet, down the sidewalk, and into the yard until the whole lawn was cleared of snow.
“Oh my!” said Mrs. Gables.
“That’s it!” yelled Kaite. “This is how I can help! Queen Rona doesn’t think there’s any kindness left in this world but I’ll show her there is! I have to go, Mrs. Gables!”
Kaite ran down the street, the warmth of Mrs. Gables’ smile still held in her heart, a smile spread across her face.
She didn’t make it far before she noticed one of her neighbors’s struggling to get groceries out of their car. “I can help!”
She carried bag after bag from the car to the house and when she was done, her neighbor smiled. “That was so kind of you, miss!” When he smiled, Kaite felt it again. Warmth radiated from his smile, into Kaite’s heart, down into her shoes, and spread across the ground around him, melting the snow surrounding his house.
Kaite continued down the street. She found a trash can that had blown over and she picked it up and put it back on the sidewalk. A woman watching from inside the house smiled from a window and waved, and the snow around her house melted.
The further she made it down the street, and the more smiles and warmth she spread, the faster the snow began to melt. She could hear people behind her coming from their houses as the snow cleared.
Kaite continued, smiling bigger than she had smiled in weeks, picking up trash, shouting compliments, helping wherever she could in order to help people feel just a little bit better.
She was on a roll when all of a sudden she skidded to a stop in the middle of the street.
Surrounded by a pile of snow that hadn’t melted, sitting on the curb with his head bowed, was a man. While the street behind her was filled with warmth and laughter, this man was still cold and sad, and it broke Kaite’s heart.
“Hello there!” she said. “Is there anything I can help you do today?”
The man looked up slowly, then shook his head.
“What’s wrong?” asked Kaite.
“I’m…I’m just a little scared. What if Queen Rona never goes away?”
“She will! Just look!” Kaite pointed to the street behind her where her friends and neighbors were laughing and talking and no longer surrounded by snow. “Sometimes it just takes a little warmth to fight the cold!”
The man sighed, “I’m still scared.”
“I understand…” said Kaite, wondering how she could help this man. She thought back to all the times she’d been scared in her life and how she’d gotten through it. And just like that, she knew how to help him.
“Stand up, please!”
The man looked up, confused. But she insisted.
“C’mon, you can do it!” The man slowly stood and Kaite held her hands out. “A few years ago, my Aunt Annie and I went to an amusement park, and before every big roller coaster, to make us more brave, we did our secret handshake. And now, to help make you more brave, I’m going to teach you.”
Kaite took the man’s hands and, leading him through each move, she taught him the handshake. At first, he moved slowly, unsure of himself. Sometimes, he’d mess up and she’d giggle and he would smile. Then she started moving faster and he started moving faster..but then he missed her hand. She laughed again at his mistake and this time he laughed.
“You’re doing great,” she said through her laughter, “Keep it up!
The next time around he got the hang of the hands so she taught him how to swing his hips. This part made him laugh even harder and soon he was bent over with laughter, watching her swing her hips and trying to get him to the same.
“What’s so funny?” she asked, now dancing around the street. Soon, one of her other neighbors noticed her dance and joined in her laughter. She even tried to mimic the dance Kaitie was doing and then laughed harder. Then that woman’s neighbor started laughing at her, and her husband and kids started laughing at her until all down the street the sound of laughter danced and bounced through the air.
The louder the laughter rang out, the faster all the snow for miles and miles began to melt. The sun came out and the air began to lose its chill.
And while Kaite couldn’t see it, all down the street, to the end of her town, past her Grandma’s house, into the next town, the laughter kept traveling. From the end of the county and into the next state and to every coast until the whole world was warm again and people could leave their homes and laugh and play with their friends.
Queen Rona may have made life hard for a while, but with a little kindness, some smiles, and a secret handshake, Kaitie showed the world that warmth will always follow a hard winter.
This story was written for 10-year-old, Kaite. Want a story like this written for someone special in your life? Get your custom story started here. Order by November 30th to get your book time for Christmas!