Charlie’s Room: Ice Cream

On Friday night, Marianne, Charlie, and Isaac drank cocoa and watched the snow drift slowly through the beam of the street lights. “It’s like living in a snow globe,” Marianne said.

“But who’s been shaking the world?” Charlie asked.

Isaac laughed. “I’ve been told that it’s always spinning in space. I guess that’s enough to shake things up.”

Charlie tipped up his mug and slurped the last of his cocoa. He set his mug on the table with a sigh. “Speaking of shaking things up, why do we always have cocoa in the winter? Why not ice cream?”

“It’s too cold for ice cream.” Marianne set her mug down and wrapped both hands around it with a smile. “A bowl of ice cream wouldn’t warm your hands like this.”

“But I like ice cream.” Charlie looked into his empty mug and sighed again. “Cocoa is always gone too fast.”

Isaac smiled. “I think we can try ice cream in winter and see what we think. I need to go to the grocery store tomorrow for more apples. I’ll go while you both go to the library.”

“That’s a great idea. There are a few other things we need, too. I’ll write a list.” Marianne finished her cocoa and picked up her mug and Charlie’s too, and took them to the sink and rinsed them.

The next morning, Charlie and Marianne left for the library as soon as it opened. Snow still fell gently, but the roads were salted and slushy. Isaac drove to the grocery store. Grimy slush filled the parking lot. Isaac was glad he wore his boots.

Most of the list was fairly easy to gather. However, the ice cream was a little more difficult. There were too many choices. Everything sounded nice. He decided to pick one of the mixed flavors, so that it was like buying more than one type. After eeny miney moe between Neapolitan and Rainbow Sherbet, he ended up with Neapolitan.

Back out in the parking lot, he set his groceries in the trunk and closed it with a thump. Right after, he heard a muffled thump and a yell. Isaac turned. An elderly woman was sprawled in the slush nearby, groceries spilling out of a shopping bag at her side.

Isaac hurried over to help her up. When she tried to stand, she yelped as she put weight on her right foot. Isaac caught her before she nearly fell again. “Lean on me,” he said. “I’ll walk you to that car, then come back for your groceries.” He balanced her weight and walked her to a nearby car. She leaned on it while he hurried back for her bag.

“What do I do? I can’t drive like this.” She tried to wipe the slush off her slacks.

Isaac held out his free arm, her grocery bag dangling from his other hand. “I can help you inside where it’s warm. There’s a bench inside the door. Do you have someone you can call?”

She frowned and patted her pockets. “I left my phone at home.”

“Let’s go inside, and you can use mine. My name is Isaac, by the way.”

“I’m Maude.”

Isaac waited with Maude until her daughter came. Then he helped her into her daughter’s car, and tucked the grocery bag at her feet. He waved them off, and drove home a little later than expected, through a world that still looked like the inside of a snow globe.

Marianne and Charlie were already there, reading their library books at the kitchen table. “I checked out a book for you.” Charlie held up a book. “It’s all about castles. I thought it looked interesting.”

“Thank you. That looks wonderful.” Isaac held up the grocery bag. “I got the ice cream. And the rest of the list, of course.”

“Let’s have some now!” Charlie bounced out of his seat and hurried to the cupboard for bowls and spoons.

Isaac set the bags on the counter and pulled out the ice cream container. It recently spent more than half an hour in the trunk of his car. However, when he opened the container, it was still perfectly frozen.

“I know a good reason to buy ice cream in the winter,” Isaac said happily as he scooped it into bowls.

“What’s that?” Marianne took the receipt from the bag and used it as a bookmark.

“It stays frozen, no matter how long it takes to get it home.” Isaac handed around the bowls and put the rest of the ice cream in the freezer.

For a moment, the kitchen was silent as they enjoyed the ice cream. Then, Marianne paused, spoon in the air. “I just thought of something,” she said. “Do you know what would make this the perfect winter treat? Hot fudge. I’m making some right now.”

“Finish your ice cream first,” Charlie said, pointing at her bowl with his spoon. “It’ll melt.”

“I thought winter kept it frozen.” Marianne smiled, and ate a big bite of ice cream.

Charlie rolled his eyes. “Not inside. It’s too warm inside.”

Isaac smiled. “I’m so glad it is. It’s nice to have a warm house to come home to when it’s cold outside.” Marianne and Charlie smiled. They ate their ice cream, and then Marianne made hot fudge. It became a new favorite winter treat.

Months later, Isaac and Maude saw each other again in a warm, non-slushy parking lot. They waved at each other like old friends. Maude had completely recovered from her fall and looked happy.

Isaac reflected for a moment on life and how a day could contain falls and slush and freezing weather, and also contain snow and library books and ice cream and hot fudge. The good and the bad combined together, bitter stirred into the sweet like flavors of ice cream all mixed together. Did that make hope, love and gratitude the hot fudge that made it all just right? Isaac had no idea. But he smiled as he put his groceries in the trunk of his car and drove home.