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A seasonal ghost story...
Agilitynet by Rosie Lane. It's our new years gift to you.
'What do you think?' Sarah says as I stand in the window looking out at the bottom field.
Oliver holds her hand, still shivering from the cold, his tiny socks steaming slightly in
the warmth of the fire. 'It took us ages, didnít it, Ol?'
'Itís great, 'I say. 'I like its carrot nose.'
'Carrots. Can I give the sheep carrots? Will that get them through the winter? I donít
'Tom.' Sarahís voice drags me back, pleading.
I pick up Ollie and swing him into my arms. 'He is a fantastic snowman. I am so proud of you.'
'I wish Tick was here to see it,' he says.
'Tick would steal his nose, and then where would we be? I bet Tick is in
heaven looking down and thinking, hmmm... that carrot looks good. Except in heaven there are
all the carrots he can steal already.'
'Donít worry sweetie.' Sarah takes Ollie away from me and hugs him in close.
'Daddy will get a new sheepdog in the spring and everything will be fine.'
'But he wonít be Tick.'
'Youíll love him just as much, sweetie, I promise.' Sarahís voice wobbles as
she says it.
'I want to make a snowman too,' I announce as Ollie sniffles. 'What do you
think, want to help Daddy make a snowman?'
'I donít know. I have a snowman.'
'What about a snow sheep?'
'A snow sheep, thatís a good idea.' Sarahís voice is bright and artificial.
'Ollie, why donít you help Daddy make a snow sheep while I make us some cocoa?'
'Come on son. Letís give Mummy some space.'
We put on boots and gloves and run out past Ollie and Sarahís snowman into the
pristine white that lies further up the bottom field. I take off my gloves and use the pain of
the frozen snow as punishment for my newness, my incompetence that kept my sheep at the cost of
We step back and look at our creation. Shiny eyes of black coal look out of a
misshapen white face at us. Ollie-sized fingerprints make his fleece.
'Heís good,' Ollie says, 'but heís on his own. The sheep are never on their
'Good point. We need more sheep.'
We stack up snow, stripping the field until dirty grass appears around our flock
of lumpy white snow sheep. We go to the top field and do more. Anything to keep Ollie busy and
take his mind off his best friend, who is trapped under the ice until the spring thaw.
By the tenth sheep Ollie wilts and I carry him home. Sarah folds him into warm
arms and holds him close while I stamp the snow off my boots and shed my layers of wool and
evening, Ollie looks out of the window before bed, a tiny figure in blue pyjamas framed against
the white landscape beyond the glass.
Photo: Emily McManus
'Daddy!' he screams. 'Tick!'
stifles a sob and runs for the kitchen, leaving me to deal with my sonís grief alone.
I go to the window. 'Tick is gone, son.'
Ollie points outside and there he is. Whiter than he was in life, and still
determined that sheep have to stay together. Our lumpy off-white creations are coming in to the
lower field. Tick says so, and when Tick says so, all sheep move.
About the author....
Lane writes short speculative fiction that sometimes finds its way into anthologies and e-zines.
Rosie is the pen name of Stephanie King, inspired by the irrepressible 'Oh Rosie,' now raising
hell at Rainbow Bridge. Doing agility with the original Rosie made Stephanie wish she could
change her identity more than once, but she loved her.