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Snow escape

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The alarm goes off at 7 a.m. You gradually become aware of a strange quality of light in your room. You go to the window. Yes! You jog down the hall to the kitchen, where your mother tells you the good news: Durham County Schools are closed. You go back to bed, at least until 9. Life is beautiful.

As you crawl under the covers, which are still slightly warm, you sincerely thank God for this glorious gift. You also make a promise: From this snow day forward, you will be a new person. You will catch up on your reading in All the King's Men (that means three chapters), and you will actually study for your geometry test, not just cram during lunch as you would have done had there been school today.

Eventually you get out of bed and bundle up. If there's enough snow, you and your sledless neighbors become the mothers of invention, dragging garbage-can lids, flattened cardboard boxes, rubber rafts, cafeteria trays and the rare car hood to the top of Radcliff Circle.

If it's just freezing rain, you walk around the neighborhood stomping through ice-covered puddles and breaking icicles off the side-mirrors of parked cars. This is North Carolina, of course, so there's a good chance that the temperature will rise to 40 degrees before sunset. By bedtime, most of the roads in your neighborhood are clear, and some of them are even dry.

Everything depends on the secondary roads. If there's just one road in a rural corner of the county that a bus can't travel down, then we're all saved. You say a little bargaining prayer before going to sleep: Please, God, if we have to go to school tomorrow, can we at least not have to go in before 10?

In the morning, the light in your room is depressingly familiar. You get out of bed with a sense of doom and walk to the window. No new snow and only a trace of yesterday's. You drag yourself down the hall, and your stomach drops at the familiar sight of your mom writing your name in purple Magic Marker on a brown-paper lunch bag. Traitor. School is open, and it's starting on time. Walking toward the shower, you are filled with remorse. How could you have let yourself fall asleep after only two pages of All the King's Men? And your geometry book never even made it out of your book bag. Life is cruel.

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