Nicky was the first to notice that it had been snowing overnight, mainly because he couldn't pull his old curtains properly closed anymore. He had spent most of the early morning watching the snow fall and waiting for 7am to come around so he could get everyone together outside.
Dave was next door and the easiest to wake, literally just a case of Nicky sticking his arm out of the window and tapping on the glass of Dave's. When Dave was up he rang Jaskaran and asked him to bring Dania along. They all met in the side street beside the Methodist church.
The rules were simple and referred mostly to do with taking cover: cars were okay but they should avoid the ones with the oversensitive alarms. Aside from that you could hit any part of the opposing team using whatever 'filling' you wanted for the snowball. Dave asked Nicky to change this rule but Nicky insisted that most of the melted snow would wash off whatever colourful mess was left behind.
The battle commenced: Nicky lumbered with Dave and Dania bossing Jaskaran around as usual. The snowballs flew as fast and frequently as the complaints. It didn't take long before Dania started utilising the streak of yellow snow beside the left tire of the Citreon protecting her and Jaskaran from Nicky's current onslaught. She waited until he had paused between the last two snowballs to launch it and caught him right on the chin.
'Dirty cheat!' Nicky shouted at her.
'All's fair.' Dania put on the voice she used when mimicking her mother.
Dave stood up. 'What did she use?'
Dania lobbed another yellow snowball at him.
'Ow!' he cried out. He wiped his cheek. 'Jaskaran! I thought you weren't going to let her use that stuff.'
'She's on my team, Dave.' Jaskaran said, shrugging his shoulders. 'It worked.'
Nicky ducked down behind the clapped out Vauxhall Astra, the one owned by the Methodist priest. He forced Dave down after him.
'Give me all those tiny ones you were working on,' Nicky said.
Dave passed him two at a time. When Nicky started squishing them together, he soon joined in.
'Can't see anything to put in it though.' Dave glanced around him. 'No screws or anything like that.'
Nicky gave him a look. 'Piss is all right but you can't throw screws at a girl. Besides,' he said, weighing the massive deformed snowball in his hands. 'this'll work fine.'
Dave stood up first, valiantly sacrificing his red fluffy coat to what turned out to be a barrage of thankfully clean snowballs. Dania's yellow supply must have finally run low. When she was all out, Dave moved back so Nicky could cast forth his white monstrosity. Unfortunately it buckled under its own weight and smashed just in front of the Citreon. Nevertheless it landed so heavily that clumps flew everywhere, catching Jaskaran's ungloved hands and some of Dania's dreadlocks. The largest piece flew the farthest and inexplicably the highest, crashing against the side door to the Methodist church. The sheer force of the snowball knocked the already rusting crucifix adornment from off its place.
Everyone stopped. An unspoken declaration of peacetime was called as Nicky moved around the bonnet of the Vauxhall and approached the fallen cross. The others gathered around him.
Dania and Jaskaran started up an almighty 'aww' of exaggerated fear.
'Leave it off, eh?' Dave said to Jaskaran. Dania stopped as well.
'So what are you going to do?' she said to Nicky.
Nicky picked up the cross with his gloved hands and checked the damage. 'Knackered' was his final verdict. He rested it against the doorstep and brushed the bits of corroded iron from his hands.
Jaskaran frowned at him. 'Is that all?'
'You're not going to let them know?' Dave said.
Nicky shook his head. 'My mum would kill me if a priest came knocking.'
'Who won then?' Dania said. 'Us?'
'Course not.' Nicky turned to her. 'Rematch tomorrow.'
They left it at that and all went home. Dave had to go see his cousins that afternoon, Dania was spending time with her dad and Jaskaran had a FIFA 2014 match to play online. Nicky just sat on his bed.
The next day Nicky woke up late. He had been using his dad's old wristwatch as an alarm clock and it seemed to have finally packed in. He threw on his clothes, grabbed the nearest coat and stepped into his ankle length boots. There was a lot of noise but it didn't stir his mother in her armchair.
Dave hadn't been in his room when Nicky knocked, presumably because he was waiting in the park with the others. Perhaps they had stopped waiting, perhaps they were already all pelting each other with fresh snow from the alcove. He had to get down there to check.
He jumped out onto the pavement, almost slipping on the sleet. He kept a hand against the outer wall of his garden until he was steady again.
As he approached the Methodist Church on the opposite side his gaze fell on the side door. The crucifix was back up, someone had even given it a quick polish by the looks of it. Nicky pulled off his glove to touch it lightly but stopped. A window on the second floor had suddenly burst open. Nicky carried on up the lane towards the park.
He doubted that it had been the priest who put the cross back up, he didn't seem the handyman sort. This was a man who fumbled with his keys almost every morning. Someone else then, perhaps one of the regulars.
Nicky was christened at this church but had never been back again since. He didn't know what Methodists praised or how it was different to other bits of Christianity. He didn't even know if any of them were particularly good with their hands.
He was about to cross the road just as something small and cold hit the back of his neck. He managed to catch most of it before it slithered down his collar; a melting snowball. It had obviously been made in a hurry: an opportunistic shot. He heard laughter coming from the window above.
Nicky didn't know much about Methodists but he supposed some of them had a vengeful sense of humour. He wiped away the water from his skin and went to find his friends.