“It is,” Mr. Walsh said, behind them. Rob jumped slightly, while Fran’s face turned deep red. “Rob, Fran, you’re both going to Mr. Lorentz’s office. With me, now.” The two children glared at each other as they walked behind the teacher. “Gene, Jeanne, get to class,” he added, frowning.
As they walked, Jeanne looked at her brother. “Why do you think he did that?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Gene sighed. “He could have done it to make sure Deacon went easier on him next time.”
“I don’t think that was it,” Jeanne said. “I think… I think he meant it. Did you peek?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Did you?”
She nodded. “I didn’t see anything. Did you?”
“Nope,” Gene said. A moment passed, as the two of them slowly realized what this meant.
“He can do it!” they cried out in unison.
“Finally,” Jeanne huffed. “Took him long enough, huh?”
By the time Phillip got home, a thin layer of snow had already fallen upon the slate walkway to the Mansion. The children were in the back room, probably watching television or playing pool; the front lights were on anyway, and Phillip took his time sweeping the steps in the darkness. The mist of his breath cooled almost as soon as it escaped him. He imagined, for a moment, that the vapor he exhaled became snowflakes as it fell; more to clear away, he thought, chuckling.