11Instead, she saw a quiet Youngstown blanketed in white and felt like a kid again. She hadn’t been reminded of the memory in years, but she thought of the days when she and her family would head to the sled hill at Mill Creek Park and zoom down it, blushing from the cold and laughing off each tumble and pratfall.
The warm memory made the bills due at the end of the month and a long list of errands seem to melt away.
Suddenly, feeling that same joy in the snow seemed like the only option.
Her excitement began to flicker a little as she searched her closet for something warm, longing for the full-body snowsuits that she and her siblings wore for the excursions as kids.
Getting creative with her wardrobe, she piled jeans over old sweat pants, a hooded sweat shirt over two undershirts and mittens over her gloves, with her coat on top of it all.
Even during the precarious drive through snowy streets to Wick Recreation Area, she felt free and weightless, much like the fluffy snowflakes gently falling around her.
In the still-insistent storm, there weren’t as many people on the hill as she remembered during snow days off from school.
However, a few families and individuals with Jennifer’s same rush for adventure were sliding along.
She climbed to the top of the hill and simply watched for a while, occasionally shaking off the snow settling on her head and shoulders.
A family was breathless from climbing up the hill but smiling happily, and the father held up a rounded sled and yelled in her direction.
“Hey! What are you standing around for? You can use our sled for a ride down ... we need a break anyway,” he explained as he shook the sled in Jennifer’s direction and smiled.
“Thank you,” she said earnestly, touched by the show of hometown hospitality.
She felt a bit silly, now realizing the kink in her plan — how could she forget a sled when she wanted a sled-riding adventure?
“I’ll bring it back as soon as I’m done!” she promised, excited to get started.
Jennifer bent down, settled into the saucer sled and pushed off from the peak of the hill. As she gained speed, it was just as she remembered: the bite of the wind on her cheeks and the brief, blissful feeling of flying.
The harsh wind during her trip down also made her eyes water, and she was suddenly trying to blink away the moisture. Within seconds, she started to shriek as she found herself on a guaranteed collision course with another sledder.
They intersected like two high-speed cars, and sleds went tumbling through the air.
Getting up a few seconds later, Jennifer’s first reaction was anger. She’d come here to enjoy a perfect, worry-free moment.
“Hey!” she yelled acidly, poking a mitten-covered finger into the stranger’s chest after they both rose from their crash.
But then she saw ...