"Urgh… It's freezing," Coraline thought drowsily. It was very early in the morning, and Coraline had been awakened by the cold. Half-asleep, she shivered and pulled her blanket tighter over her head. Then, with a start, she realized, it's freezing!
With a gasp, she jumped out of bed and raced to the window. When she looked outside, she let out a cry of delight.
Fresh, crisp white snow blanketed the garden of the Pink Palace Apartments. It seemed to glow invitingly under the weak light of the rising sun in the dark early morning sky. Coraline grinned happily, savoring the view since this was the first snow she had seen since leaving Michigan.
She glanced at her clock. It was early; her parents wouldn't be awake yet. She looked out the window once again, then tore herself away from the view and got dressed quickly, eager to be outside in the snow.
She tiptoed down the hallway quietly, and paused at the doorway of her parent's room. She considered going in and waking them up to tell them the news, but another idea made her change her mind and smile mischievously as she slipped outside alone.
Once she was outside, she took a deep breath of the cold morning air and ran out into the snow.
"It's snoooooowwwiiiinnnnnggg!" she yelled happily, laughing as she marred the spotless white surface of the snow by leaving footprints with her boots. She ran around and around, jumping into large piles of snow, throwing snowballs at the trees, trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue, until she grew tired. She found a patch of thick snow that she hadn't yet made footprints on, flopped down and made a snow angel. She stared up at the dark clouds hanging in the sky above, with the sun trying to fight through, and she smiled blissfully. She had missed the snow.
"Ahoy, Caroline!" called a voice, startling Coraline.
"Wh-eh?" she stood up quickly and looked around. She finally looked up to see Mr. Bobinsky, the upstairs neighbor, standing on his balcony looking down disapprovingly. "Leetle girl, vat are you doing out so early, making such a rumpus, hm? You have been disturbing the mooshkas!"
"Ohhh, sorry Mr. B," Coraline said. "But look, it's snowing!" she added brightly.
"Yes, I know. The mice, they do not like the snow. When is cold like this, they get lazy and refuse to play music," Mr. Bobinsky said. "Ah, well. But they tell me to say to you that they are almost ready to perform."
"Um," Coraline said. "Tell them I look forward to it."
"I will. Das Vydania, Caroline," Mr. Bobinsky nodded and went back into his apartment.
Coraline grabbed a handful of snow off the ground and packed it into a couple of snowballs as she schlepped to the front door of her apartment. She shook some snow off her coat and kicked off her boots before going in.
The house was quiet. Mom and Dad must be sleeping in... Time to wake them up, Coraline thought gleefully. She gingerly held the snowballs in her hands and raced quietly upstairs to her parents' bedroom. She carefully pushed open the door and went inside, trying not to giggle. She held up one of the snowballs, hefted it in her hand, carefully took aim, and… threw it at her mother.
Her mother gasped, startled. "Ah-What on earth?!"
One down! Coraline grinned, and threw the second snowball at her father.
He sat up with a start. "Huh-what?" he muttered sleepily.
"Coraline Jones!" her mother sat up and glared at her sleepily. "What are you doing?!"
Coraline burst into giggles and yelled, "Wake up! It's snowing!!!"
"Is that all? It's seven in the morning, you're usually still asleep now. Go back to bed," her mother grumbled, pulling the covers over her head once more.
But this is the first time it's snowed since we moved here!" Coraline said.
"That's nice, Coraline," her father said, brushing snow out of his hair, "but did you really have to hit us with snowballs first thing in the morning?"
"Yes, I did! Aren't you excited?! It's snowing!! Like in Michigan!" she twirled around and cried, "Come on! Come on, come on, get up! You have to see the snow!"
"Go away. The snow will still be there when we get up," her mother mumbled.
"Coraline, get out of here now," her mother snapped.
Coraline scowled and stomped out of the room. She wandered into the kitchen and poked around until she found something to eat.
When she had finished eating and dumped the dirty dishes into the sink, she put on her coat and boots and colorful gloves and went outside again.
Coraline walked out onto the porch and looked out at the glistening snow. She could hear above her, faintly, the sound of Mr. Bobinsky counting to himself in Russian. She assumed that he was probably doing some sort of weird calisthenics routine. She walked down onto the porch steps and suddenly let out a surprised squeal as a snowball hit her on the top of her head.
"Huh?" she muttered, brushing snow out of her blue hair and looking up. "How could-Ah!" she gasped as another snowball hit the top of her head. Frowning in puzzlement, she jumped down the last few steps and looked up at the roof of the house. The cat was sitting there, next to a few large snowballs.
"Cat?!" she exclaimed. "How-What're you doing there?"
The cat shrugged in the way cats do, and cocked his head to one side. He flashed out a paw and batted a snowball off the roof. It landed next to Coraline's foot with a splat. "Hmm…"
If Cat is here, Wybie can't be too far behind, Coraline thought, looking around and noticing Wybie's bike not-very-well-hidden behind a tree. She kicked the remains of the snowball and said to the cat, "Well, I don't think that you could have made these. So somebody else must have put you up to this."
The cat winked and gave Coraline a knowing look.
Coraline turned and walked around the yard, feigning carelessness, but keeping her eyes and ears open. "I wonder," she continued, "who the culprit could be… It's not Cat, he can't make snowballs that big. Somebody must have made them and put them on the roof so he could push them off." Coraline's ears pricked up as she heard the familiar clicking noise of the periscope of Wybie's helmet nearby. She deliberately walked in the opposite direction.
"It can't be Mr. B, he's exercising, and besides, he doesn't even like Cat. …It couldn't be Ms. Spink or Ms. Forcible, they're inside. …And Mom and Dad are still asleep… So… it must be… W-augh!" Coraline shrieked as she was hit in the face by a snowball.
"SNOOOOWBAAAALLLLL!!! Ahahahahahahahaaaa!" cackled a voice, and Coraline gasped as she was pelted by another snowball.
"Why-were-you-born!" she yelled. "I knew it!"
Wybie popped out from behind one of the planters in the garden and yelled, "Snowball!" as he threw another snowball at Coraline.
"Ah- Hey, cut it out!" Coraline giggled.
"Snowball and snowball!" Wybie pelted two more snowballs at Coraline.
"Bleagh! Do you have to scream 'snowball' every time you throw one?" Coraline asked as she wiped snow off her face and scooped some snow off the ground.
"Yes!" Wybie grinned.
"Hey, what're you doing here so early, anyway?" Coraline asked, hitting him hard with a snowball.
"Ow. Well, I figured you'd probably be up early today, 'cause of the snow," Wybie said, cocking his head and rubbing the back of his neck.
"It's official. You truly are the village stalker," Coraline said, throwing another snowball at Wybie.
Wybie laughed nervously and threw a snowball right back at Coraline.
"Did you ride that rolling metal deathtrap here in this weather?" Coraline asked, nodding to Wybie's bike.
"Yeah," Wybie said.
"Huh. And you didn't wipe out with all this snow?"
"Snow tires," Wybie said proudly, tossing a snowball at Coraline.
"Ah. You weirdo," Coraline hurled another snowball at Wybie's face.
"Pfft- Hey, wanna have a snowball fight?" Wybie asked.
"Isn't that what we're doing?" Coraline frowned.
"Nah, this is just tossing snowballs around," Wybie said.
"Hm... All right. Point system or to-the-death?"
"To-the-death! Until one of us gives up," Wybie said.
"Alllll right! It's war!" Coraline declared, throwing a snowball at Wybie hard as she could. "Begin!" she yelled, flinging another snowball.
"Is that the best you can do, Jonesy?" Wybie jeered, ducking as a snowball narrowly missed hitting him in the face.
"Oooh, you'd better watch it, boy," Coraline snarled, hurling another snowball. "Back in Michigan, I could beat any boy in a snowball fight."
"Well you're not in Michigan now!" Wybie yelled, hitting Coraline with a snowball.
"Lucky shot!" Coraline said, ducking behind one of the garden walls and flinging two more snowballs at Wybie. They hit their target perfectly.
"Jeez, you've got good aim," Wybie panted, tossing another snowball at Coraline, which she nimbly dodged.
"Thanks, I know," she said, taking aim and neatly hit the back of Wybie's head.
Wybie threw another snowball at Coraline, but it missed by a long shot and he accidentally ended up hitting Cat, who had moved and was watching the spectacle from one of the garden walls, instead. The cat jumped, letting out a screech, and gave Wybie a withering look.
"Eheheh, oops… Sorry, Cat!" Wybie called. Cat flicked his ears irritably and strolled up to the porch of the Pink Palace, away from the fight, where he sat on the porch railing and licked himself all over.
"Aw, poor kitty," Coraline laughed.
"I didn't mean to!" Wybie protested, tossing another snowball at Coraline.
"I never said you did," Coraline grunted as she lobbed another snowball at Wybie.
About half an hour later, the kids were still at it. The door of the Jones apartment creaked open, and Coraline looked up see her mother standing in the door, dressed in jeans and a sweater and holding a cup of coffee.
"Hey there, you mangy cat," she walked out onto the porch and petted the cat on the head. "What are you kids doing?"
"What's it look like? We're having a snowball fight!" Coraline cried. "It's fun! Come on, join us!"
"I don't think so," Mel leaned on the porch railing and frowned, looking unimpressed. "Being woke up by a snowball first thing is enough for one day." She took a sip of her coffee.
"Well, if you say so…" Coraline sighed, scooping up a snowball. "I'm telling you, it's really- fun!" She lobbed a snowball at her mother and ran out into the garden as fast as she could run. "Oh my God, I can't believe I actually did that!" she shrieked.
Wybie stared after her in dumbfoundment. "That was a really stupid thing to do," he muttered.
Mel stood on the porch, looking a little bit stunned. "I can't believe she actually did that," she said slowly, then she looked into her coffee cup and frowned. "There's… snow… in my coffee. Hmph." She turned and stomped back inside.
A few minutes later, Coraline poked her head out from behind the stone wall she had been hiding behind and looked around.
"What, she's gone?!" Coraline cried, returning to the front of the house. "I don't get it!"
"Jonesy, that was a really dumb thing to do," Wybie said nervously. "Why'd you do that?"
"I don't know!" Coraline exclaimed. "I really don't know! But why did she go back into the house? I thought she'd get mad and join the snowball fight!"
"You actually want your mom to join the snowball fight?" Wybie asked incredulously.
"Well… We never do much else together," Coraline said sulkily. "Dad would probably join if I asked him, but Mom-"
"Then why didn't you ask your Dad?!" Wybie yelled.
"'Cause he's got terrible aim," Coraline grumbled.
A loud yell of "Hey, Coraline!" from the porch made both Coraline and Wybie jump and turn around.
"What the heck?!" Coraline exclaimed in astonishment.
Both of her parents were standing on the porch, her mother looking fierce, her father looking a little bit embarrassed. They were both dressed in winter clothes, with boots and jackets and long pants.
"Mom! Dad! You're actually… outside! I can't believe it!" Coraline pretended to faint. "Why?"
"Because," her mother said, crossing her arms and declaring in a mock-serious voice, "I, Melanie Jones, and my husband, Charles Jones, are here to formally challenge a snowball battle with Coraline Jones and Wybourne Lovat."
"Can she speak in normal English?" Wybie muttered.
"Shh!" Coraline shushed, her eyes bright with amusement.
Mel continued archly, "We have a complaint against the former, because of the way she rudely awakened us this morning, and as for the latter, he has committed no offense except being in the company of the former. …Actually, we just need two people to fight against, and since you're here, Wybie, you're it."
"Mel dragged me into this," Charlie said, raising his hand.
"Quiet Charlie," Mel hissed. "So. Coraline, Wybie, do you accept our challenge?"
"…Coraline, your mom is scaring me," Wybie whispered, his eyes wide. "Even more than usual. I thought she was always grumpy!"
"Nah, she can be silly when she wants to be," Coraline whispered. "But it's not very often. I haven't seen her like this since I was really little!"
Coraline laughed delightedly, and tried to mimic the ceremonial way her mother had spoken. "All right. Then I, Coraline Jones, and my friend, Wybie- uh, I mean Wybourne Lovat, accept the challenge to a snowball fight presented by, um, you guys. Mom and Dad."
"What?! Wait, I never said I would-Ow!" Wybie's protest was cut off when Coraline stomped on his foot.
"Good. It will begin in five minutes!" Mel stated. "Prepare your battle strategy, kids. You're going to need it!"
Wybie gulped. "Hey, uh, Jonesy? I think I heard somebody calling me. I-I have to go home now."
"Nobody's calling you, Wybie. C'mon, stop being a baby," Coraline said.
"But- Jonesy, you started this! I don't wanna have a snowball fight against your parents," Wybie hissed.
"Why not?" Coraline frowned and crossed her arms.
"It's not- I mean- I don't-" Wybie fumbled for words.
"What? What? You scared?" Coraline taunted.
"N-no! I just-" Wybie protested.
"Kids! Time's up!" Charlie yelled.
"Whaaaaaaat?! No, it's not!" Coraline objected, noticing Wybie trying to edge toward his bike unobtrusively.
"I say it is," Mel said, walking out into the yard with Charlie following closely behind.
"It hasn't even been a minute!" Coraline cried, catching hold of the back of Wybie's jacket as he tried to escape.
"Augh! Jonesy, I don't wanna do this!" he yelled, struggling.
"Hush, you chicken," Coraline said.
"Okay! Are you kids ready for this?" Mel called.
"No!" Wybie cried. "This is Coraline's thing, I don't w- Ouch!" Wybie grumbled as Coraline nudged him in the ribs.
"Shut up!" Coraline hissed. Then she yelled, "Yes, we are!"
"Wonderful. Good luck! You're going to need it," Mel laughed, scooping up a snowball.
"START!" Charlie yelled, flinging a snowball. It barely missed hitting Coraline.
"Ha! Missed," Coraline threw a snowball at her father. Of course, it hit dead-on.
"Ah! You got me!" Charlie said dramatically clutching his chest.
"Bleaugh- Hey! Mom, no fair!" Coraline spat, as her mother sneaked up on her and hit her in the back of the head with a couple of snowballs.
"Yeah, it's fair," Mel said, pelting Wybie with a snowball.
"Aaaugh! I've been hit! …I'm dead," Wybie fell to the ground.
"Get up!" Coraline panted, ducking as a barrage of snowballs flew over her head.
"Nope. I'm dead," Wybie insisted.
"No! I will avenge you, Wybie!" Coraline cried, scooping up some more snowballs and pelting them at her parents as fast as she could.
"Missed. Missed… Missed," Mel called, dodging the snowballs that Coraline threw at her. "Coraline, are you losing your touch?"
"Nope!" Coraline neatly hit her mother with a snowball.
After a few more minutes of snowball fighting, Coraline yelled, "All right, let's mix it up! Girls against boys!"
"Hm. Good idea," Mel grinned maliciously.
"No way!" Wybie screamed. "You'll kill us!"
"I think we can take 'em," Charlie said, hefting a snowball in his hand.
"You're crazy!" Wybie cried.
Coraline yelled, "GO!" and threw a snowball at Wybie.
Wybie screamed and hid behind a tree.
"Get him!" Coraline yelled.
Wybie screamed as he was barraged from two sides by snowballs. "Is it 'everybody's-out-to-get-Wybie- day' today?!" he wailed.
"Yes, Lovat! Yes, it is," Coraline shouted.
"Then this is personal!" Wybie scooped up a snowball and hurled it at Coraline.
"You're finally gonna fight?" Coraline cried.
"Yep," Wybie replied, lobbing a snowball at Mrs. Jones. She threw another one back at him. It hit him in the face.
An epic snowball battle ensued, in which the girls completely demolished the boys. By the time that battle was over, everybody was exhausted and they all went inside for hot chocolate and coffee and lunch.
Then the kids went outside again to play in the snow until it grew late and Wybie's grandmother called for him.
That night, as Coraline's parents were tucking her into bed, her father asked, "Well, did you have fun today?"
"Uh-huh," Coraline said happily. "I didn't expect you guys to actually have a snowball fight with us! Me and Mom completely destroyed you and Wybie!" she giggled.
"Yeah. …It was a nice change of pace," Charlie smiled, giving Coraline a good-night peck on the cheek.
"Mm-hmm. Well, don't expect it to happen again anytime soon," her mother teased. "You guys wore me out this morning. I haven't been in a snowball fight in ages!"
"Was it fun?" Coraline asked drowsily.
Mel paused a moment, then admitted slowly, "…Yes, it was fun."
"G'night, Coraline." Mel gave Coraline a little half-smile smile as she smoothed the covers.
"Good night, Mom. Good night, Dad," Coraline said sleepily, closing her eyes. She was totally exhausted from all the activity that day, and she was asleep even before her parents had left the room.