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Winter of Ash by Maria

Winter of Ash by Maria

Runner-up, KidPub December 2012 Writing Contest


August 26 2015

I am Hey, a thirteen year old boy, and I am lying down in a kind lady’s house in Mountain Village Alaska. My two little sisters and younger brother snuggle up to me, whimpering in their sleep. The old lady who lives here thought my day’s adventure was quite a story, and I should write it all down. I said I guess I could, but I didn’t have a pencil or paper to write with. She reached into her pocket and pulled this journal out. So let’s see how should I begin this? Well it’s been a long day and I’m really sore, but I can’t fall asleep. I’m worried sick about my Aga (my mother) and my older sis. They haven’t been found since the disaster. Now my mind’s wandering back to the events of today. So here is what happened.

I think my story best starts yesterday. In Alaska the weather gets cold very soon, because of how far it is from the equator, so it was no surprise when my black-haired, brown-eyed, little sister Suka came running down to the kitchen declaring that the winter fairies had left some pixie dust on the front yard. (Side note/ we all have black hair, brown eyes).

“Don’t be silly,” I laughed, “it’s not pixie dust, its frost.” (Nothing could convince her seven year old mind)

Mom was giving me instructions while she cooked our breakfast of Arctic Char. She and my older sister Anuun were going to the nearby community to clean up our winter house. Right now we were staying in our summer cottage by the ocean. In the distance we could see the huge Cleveland volcano. It had erupted a few times recently, but not in the summer months, so we were safe. At least that’s what we thought.

“We will be gone till about tomorrow afternoon,” my Aga explained serving me the delicious, crispy, fish. “We are taking both ATV’s, so don’t do anything stupid that would cause an emergency.”

I nodded, taking a bite of the delicious fish. This was the first time I had ever had to babysit overnight. If it had been last year, Dad would have done it. But he died this March; at least that’s what we believed. He had been snowboarding when an avalanche happened, and no one could recover his body. We had not seen him since.

“While we are gone you can also bring out the winter wear,” my Aga suggested, dishing out the Char to my three sisters and my little brother.

After breakfast my two little sisters, my little brother, my puppy, and I stood on the porch and waved goodbye to my Aga and Anuun. No one even thought about how different things would turn out to be.

August 27 2015

So let’s continue. That night was a very strange night. Early in the morning I kept waking up and it seemed the room was moving. I almost started to think that I was getting a fever or something like that. At around eight in the morning I got up and was feeling just fine. “Must have been a bad dream,” I thought. I headed down to kitchen and what would you know? It was snowing! (I thought) White stuff was gently floating down to the ground and the feeling of winter washed over me. I love winter. The smells, the colors, but most of all the snow. That’s why my parents named me Hey, which in our aboriginal language means winter. I did sort of wonder why it snowed so early in the year, but I was really too excited to think about it much. I ran down to the front door where me and my siblings put our winter wear, and got dressed for the weather. I ran out the door gleefully shouting “snow”, but as soon as I took three steps out, I froze. The sky was black. It was way hotter than it should be, and what I thought was snow was more like debris. And straight in front of me was the big Cleveland volcano shooting lava up into the air. The earth trembled again. Then I realized how much danger we were in. The trembles would cause avalanches. Avalanches would crash right into our house. We were still pretty close to the volcano. It could send hot rock down to the house that could destroy it. I had to act, but how? Then I remembered the first volcano rule my Dad had taught me. Don’t breath in the ash. I quickly ran back into the house.

“Nukka! Suka!” I shouted running up the stairs. My two sisters met me at the top.

“What is it?” Nukka yawned, her brown eyes gazing at me sleepily.

“No time for explanations,” I explained, taking some towels out of a cupboard and heading to the washroom to soak them. “Now go get Kunipok up Suka. And Nukka, go bring up your guys’ coats and boots.”

“What’s up? Did it like snow last night and you are all worked up because of it?” Nukka teased.

“It snowed all right,” I remarked, putting the towels in the sink and pouring the water over them. “It snowed ash.”

Nukka’s face went very pale.

“Well what’s the matter?” I yelled at her. “Let’s get moving!”

She was gone in a flash.

Suka came up to me with Kunipok holding her hand.

“Go to the attic,” I instructed. Then I followed behind with the wet towels. I had been thinking about the avalanche and I knew that it was not a good idea to be inside the house when the avalanches hit, so I decided that we would stay on the roof instead, and hope for the best.

Nukka came running up with the coats and boots. She put them on Suka and Kunikpok while I tied the wet towels around their mouths so they wouldn’t breathe in the ash. By the time I tied a towel around Nukka’s mouth and my own, I could already hear the thundering sounds of the avalanches. I quickly searched the roof of the attic for the escape door my dad had made. I found it and opened it up quickly. The door opened, and above the black sky seemed to glare down at me. I helped Nukka up first, and then she received the others.

“What about Iluak (the puppy)?” My five year old brother Kunikpok asked.

“Shoot!” I hissed. I had totally forgotten.

“It’s too late!” Nukka shouted down at me. “I can already see the avalanches coming!”

“Hang on tight!” I yelled as I sprinted out of the attic. I ran to my bedroom where I expected Iluak to be. Sure enough there he was sleeping peacefully on Kunikpok’s bed. I grabbed the husky puppy and sprinted as best I could back to the attic. I entered the attic, and a force like no other sent me flying across the floor. I could hear my siblings shriek, but the house wasn’t down yet so I still had a chance.

“Nukka?” I shouted through the escape door. My sister’s pale face looked over the side.

Without a word I handed her the puppy and she grabbed it and handed it to Kunikpok. Then she grabbed my arm, and with a little difficulty lifted me over the side. Just then the avalanches hit, and carried the roof we were on, away into the ocean.

August 28 2015

So where was I? Oh yes. So the avalanche carried us right into the ocean, and I was praying so hard that the roof would float. Thank goodness it did. But how long would it be till help came? was heavy on my mind. I knew that all rescue teams would be taking care of the communities first. They probably didn’t know that we were here. They also couldn’t fly over here because the ash could destroy the plane’s mechanics. We were surrounded by lots of snow. What could help us? Morning turned to the afternoon, and slowly afternoon turned to evening. The sky darkened, and still the awful ash kept falling. I tried to comfort my siblings, but they were very thirsty and scared. I got even more chills when I heard the howling of dogs. “But wait,” I thought to myself, “No wolf or wild dog would come back to its habitat so soon.” My heart leaped inside me.

“Over here!” I shouted. And on the edge of the shore line I saw the rescue dogs with two helpers, and a man snowboarding. The snowboarding man pointed his flashlight at me and I saw his face.

“It can’t be,” I stuttered. But it was. It was my father.

They managed to find a way to get us onto shore. And we nearly tackled our father. He laughed and put his arm around us.

“Where have you been?” I trembled, squeezing his hand intensely.

“Well the avalanche that supposedly killed me swept under my snowboard, and so I rode the avalanche. Unfortunately it took me out into the ocean, and I nearly froze to death in the icy-cold water. However a nearby ship found me unconscious and took me all the way to the other side of Alaska. I didn’t have any money, so since last March I’ve been braving the wild, hiking all the way home. And looks like I got home at just the right time. I heard of the volcano and my gut feeling told me that you were still here, so I came.” I gave my dad another big hug. Finally after that really long day I felt safe.

August 29 2012

We now have moved into a trapper’s cottage since I started this journal. The other woman had relatives coming to stay, so we had to move out. We haven’t heard back from our winter community, because it’s not safe to go there with the damage the volcano did. We don’t know if we have a house left to live in, or if Aga and Anuun are alive. Still, the people of Mountain Village are very kind, feeding us and giving us shelter. Dad’s trying to find a temporary job until we find out if we can go back home. I really miss Aga and Anuun. I wonder where they are.


Oh I am so happy! Dad called me up after my last entry and showed me a telegraph message from our home community. Our home is destroyed, but Aga and Anuun are alive and well! We should be seeing them in a week, as soon as the trails from here to there are cleaned and safe to travel on. We may not have a home left, but soon we will have a complete family all together again.


Creative. Don't let anyone


Don't let anyone or anything stand in the way of your life.

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Posted by Yavanna on Thu, 01/10/2013 - 04:30

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