They say no two snowflakes are the same. Once one melts, it’s gone forever. You can’t see its pattern anymore. You lost your chance at what it could have brought you. But yesterday, I read a report saying that there are in fact only thirty-five different shapes of snowflakes. And another one. So maybe snowflakes aren’t unique. Maybe if one melts, another, exactly the same, snowflake will take its place. At least I hope so. Uniqueness is scary. It’s encouraging, but it’s terrifying. If you screw up, or die, or something, then what only you could have done is lost forever. And if you lose someone else, then you’ll never, ever, find anyone like them again.
“You know, I read somewhere that there are only thirty-five different kinds of snowflakes,” I say to my best friend, Ava, as she packs the last of her shirts in the pink and blue suitcase she’s used since she was ten.
“Really?” she asks, glancing out the window. The snow is coming down pretty hard now. I remember how we used to think snowflakes were tiny clouds, and would spend hours theorizing about how they could’ve gotten so small.
“Yeah, weird right?”
“I guess.” Ava shrugs, and kneels down to zip her suitcase shut. “But it was always kind of unrealistic. I mean, there’s probably been trillions of snowflakes and there are so many patterns the world can make.”
“So you think it would be possible to find do snowflakes that are exactly the same?”
“Yeah. Bella, you brought it up, what do you think?”
“Do you remember how we used to think snowflakes were tiny clouds?” I ask suddenly. Ava smiles fondly.
“Definitely,” she sighs. “We would talk about it over hot chocolate-”
“-with exactly seven marshmallows,” I finish with her. She waits for me to say something else, but I can’t. Because even if I find another friend just like Ava, we still couldn’t share the memories that Ava and I share. A few moments pass before I realize that Ava is still waiting for me to say something.
“You okay?” she asks, looking at me with concerned eyes.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“We’ll still talk, Bell,” she says, as she figures out what’s wrong.
“You’ll be in Iowa.”
“They have phones in Iowa,” she assures me, stopping what she was doing and walking over to me.
“How would you know? You’ve never seen a house in Iowa before,” I retort, only half joking.
“My Dad’s job is at a marketing company. I’m pretty sure they’ll have phones. Are we really talking about this? Bella, you said we were okay.” She doesn’t look angry, she looks hurt. She did tell me, three months ago. We were having a sleepover, and while we were playing Boggle she told me that her Dad had found this great job in Iowa, and she would have to move. At first I had thought that it was a temporary thing, but she carefully told me that it was permanent. Forever. The snowflake was melting, and there would be nothing left. I had sat there like an idiot, as plans for High School graduations and Sweet Sixteens flew up the basement steps and out the window.
“When I told you that, three months seemed like thirty years,” I tell her. “You leave tomorrow.”
“Well, maybe the roads will be blocked,” she offers awkwardly.
“How are you so okay? You told me we were like sisters. I’ve known you since I was born! Now you’re leaving, and I’m the only one getting upset!” I yell. She’s never been upset. Not once. She was conciliatory, she was regretful, she was so many amazing things… but she was never upset.
“Because I lost the argument!” she yells back, “I fought like hell, I yelled at my Dad so many times. But in the end, if you have to leave, being upset about it doesn’t help. It’s like a snowflake, if it’s going to melt, it melts, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it!” The silence hangs in the air, and we both end up looking out the window.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper. I don’t want our relationship to end on a fight. I’m okay with her going to Iowa, and she’s right.
“I am too… I’m gonna miss you a lot, okay? Like, a lot.”
“I’m gonna miss you, too.”
“You never answered my question,” Ava states.
“I told you I think that you can find two snowflakes that are exactly the same, and I asked you what you think. You never answered.”
“Right. I don’t know… I think you can, scientifically. But… like the idea of no two things being the exact same, conceptually, you know? Because if you can find one snowflake that exactly like another snowflake, then why value the first snowflake?”
“Bella, I don’t think anyone values snowflakes. They’re frozen water, and in order to see their patterns at all you have to use a microscope,” Ava jokes.
“You know what I mean,” I retort, hitting her arm playfully.
“Yeah,” she pauses, “I do.” I look at my watch. Way past dinner time.
“I got to get back to my house,” I say apologetically.
“Why don’t you stay over? The movers don’t come until, like, eleven. We can have one last night playing Boggle in the basement,” Ava offers.
“That sounds great.” I quickly call my Mom, inform her of my plans, and then follow Ava down to her basement.
“Why would anyone even bother studying if snowflakes are unique or not?” Ava wonders. “They’re snowflakes.”
I nod, smiling. “Good point.”