My sister keeps a snow globe and whispers wishes into it before bedtime. She says the globe brings bad luck to little girls like me, so stay away. I peek at her through the door jamb anyway. With one hand upon its dome, Maria grasps it like a goddess casting a spell over the sky. The glitter swirls around, the power of a winter storm contained in igloo glass. Sparkles flick toward her fingertips. I want those miniature lightning bolts. Mother gave Maria the globe before dying. Mother left me a hug I can no longer feel.
With midnight intentions, I inch into her room. The globe shimmers in candlelight to show me who I’ll be. Yet at my touch, the globe fails to sparkle as it did for Maria. No lightning, just a dead canopy. Even after relentless attempts, this globe hates me.
So in the morning, I ask Father, “Did Mother leave me a snow globe too?” I hope for a perfect world to crawl into.
The porridge in his bowl tilts floorward; its lumpiness kisses his thumb. “Your mother loved you, Katrina, to keep you safe from it all.” He puts his unfinished breakfast down for the dogs. “Don’t be concerned with things,” he says and wraps in his coat for work, at a shop where he sells powder to musketeers. His cane echoes on the cobblestones as he retreats down the alleyway from our tenement.
I will charm the snow globe yet. I’m patient.
That evening, Maria’s twilight curls ride up like riptides as she sings tiny lullabies with undetectable words. While she sleeps, I creep like the thief I am to be, but the globe will not leave the dresser no matter how forcefully I pull. Looking into the motionless snow globe, it hypnotizes time. Then Maria’s pale fingertips stretch across this little world she owns and lifts it away.
“Do you know what this is?” Her free hand tightens around my collarbone.
“It’s not mine,” I spit on her nightgown.
Her grasp loosens. “No, it’s not,” she raises the glass close. Between us, the swirls begin, but through the sparkles, I witness figures of many women, dancing in ritual. Their bodies fatigued to collapse. Maria sets the prison in its place and says, “So now, you know enough. Take joy where our mothers cannot.”
I nod the lie she wants to hear.
The next day, they are off to the market with a basket, arm in arm. I take father’s cane and swing it full arc onto the snow globe. Smashing it releases the women’s screams. I look through the broken world for mother and grandmother before. Just wet particles are left, moisture soaking into wood and floor.
Richard Bower lives in Central New York with wife, daughter, and black cats. He teaches writing for Cayuga’s School of Media and the Arts (SOMA) and has previously published folk flash in Storyland Literary Review, Enchanted Conversation Magazine: Folklore, Fairy Tales & Myths, and Boned: A Collection of Skeletal Writings.
Artwork: Natalia Drepina