May 2003 - Summer
"And where exactly is it that you think you're going?" Aurora asks her second son, who is halfway through his flight out the door, out into the cold white blanket of the afternoon.
Ronan pauses in the hallway. Slowly, guiltily, he turns around to face her.
"Yeah," Aurora says. She dangles a Spiderman scarf in one hand, his mittens in the other. "Yeah, forget something, did you?"
Ronan trudges slowly back towards her. "No?"
"Mhm," she says, winding it around his neck. "Next time I catch you without this in the cold, you aren't going out at all, young man."
"Back before dark."
He's fidgeting, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. She pulls on his left mitten, kisses the top of his head. "Tell Adam he's welcome for dinner."
"Yeah, Mom!" he shouts back, already halfway across their front lawn.
Outside, the snow falls, thick and fast, and Ronan runs for the pier like his life depends on it. Perhaps it does; Adam's not allowed to stay out long, and Ronan needs to see this: his first, fierce joy at the snowflakes drifting down like bright, white stars, his open-mouthed awe as he tries to taste them on his tongue. Ronan runs, half-afraid he might miss Adam, even if he is fifteen minutes earlier than promised. Ronan reaches the pier, and Adam's already there, swinging his legs, face upturned. He is wearing an oversized beanie and what looks like an ancient, moth-eaten black parka, and there it is, that quiet burning delight Ronan's lungs feel like they ran a half marathon for: Adam is smiling, Adam looks very, very happy.
"I told you I'd make it snow!" he gasps out, when Adam is in earshot. He staggers the last few steps towards the end of the pier, drops down beside him. "You didn't believe me," and it's hard to sound smug when you're out of breath and your chest is on fire, but Ronan manages it.
"You made it snow," Adam allows, smiling wondrously. "And I always believed you! I just, you know, needed proof."
Ronan scoffs. "Doubting Thomas," he says, like he hears his dad say when Declan sniffs and says something is ridiculous, it's impossible.
But it's hard to pick a fight with Adam when he reaches out with his hand almost curled into a fist - just one finger, his forefinger, outstretched, pointing out into the lake of frozen ice. The tiny snowflake settles into his skin, melts like the magical, dreamt-up matter it is. Adam had said, yesterday: I've never seen a proper winter, and Ronan had been shocked, shocked and flooded with memories of the dozens of times his dad had brought them to Paris, to Stockholm, to Venice, to see snow falling in the most beautiful cities in the world, or had simply taken them to the orchard, said: Look, boys, today it's winter. Snow falling on apples and oranges and impossible fruit no one knew existed, much less knew the name of.
That had been yesterday. Today, in the middle of a hazy May in the sleepy blue-skied neighbourhood town of Cabeswater, Virginia, which last night had predicted humidity with a small chance of a slight drizzle, Ronan had woken up and looked out the window, and it had been snowing, very steadily and convincingly, right in the face of said weather forecast. Today, Ronan watches Adam marvel at the snowflakes, the solid lake, the fact that school is cancelled until who-knows-when because of what the radio says are miraculous developments in weather, and thinks: well, it's really not a big deal, but if it makes Adam happy, then.
Back at the Lynch residence, Aurora takes Matthew out to make a snowman, and while they are digging around for the twigs which will become his arms, Mrs Garcia peers over the hedge and says: "Aurora, dear!"
"Hello, Lauren," Aurora says, straightening up. "Oh, not in your mouth, darling," she adds to Matthew, who stares up at her in indignant confusion, and promptly resumes biting at the end of the stick once she turns her attention back to the hedge.
"Amazing, isn't it?" Mrs Garcia says, indicating the snowman, the weather, the world in general.
Aurora, who is married to Niall Lynch, a man who is not so much amazing as impossibly unfeasible and inconceivably indefinable, shakes her head and makes awed, tch-ing noises.
"Cabeswater, which hasn't had a proper winter since--" Mrs Garcia shakes her head, spreads her arms. "Oh, just sludge and frost, for as long as I can remember! And today, in the middle of summer, a winter wonderland honest-to-God out of a movie, dear. It's just a miracle."
She shakes her head some more. Aurora, who has known nothing but miracles from the day she was created, wisely holds her tongue.
"Beautiful," Lauren Garcia concludes.
"It really is," Aurora agrees, and that is true.