A Winter's Tale

The snow began before dawn. In the half light, the breath-holding semi-darkness, the first flakes fell, appearing from nowhere, as if the snow had created the clouds. The snow fell with a dreamlike hush, insubstantial, mere glimmers of reflective light; half a dozen flakes here, a handful falling over there, a few seconds of stillness.

At dawn, the sky was blankets of grey-white, the air visible with the brightness of snow. Now flakes held hands, joined in communities in the air, and settled together, first on the grass and then, slowly, on the paved surfaces.

She stood on the front porch, her quilt around her shoulders, smiling with the cold wet kisses of the flakes blowing onto her face. "Now," she said softly. "There must be more."

The neighborhood blurred under the wave of white. She heard the hushed noise of wheels skidding on the snow, the breath sound of snow falling, and the lightest puffing noise as the snow landed on the beginnings of drifts.

By the time the radio alarm blared into life inside, the snow sounds were mingled with the distant clink of the chains on the wheels of struggling snowplows, the scrape of shovels up and down the street. The air was white, muffled; there might have been clouds above, or perhaps the entire sky was snow.

She remembered other storms, silent mornings, with no school, nothing to do but enjoy the cold white world. This would be, she judged, a larger storm than those. She concentrated on snow, on traffic stopping, on buildings closing. Now, she thought. Today there will be snow, and everyone will be still for a day.

He lumbered out, sleepy-eyed, clutching his cup of coffee. "My God," he said, looking around the porch. "Where did all this come from?"

"There's no point in shoveling yet," she remarked. "You couldn't get ahead of it."

"They're closing the highways," he said. "I just heard it on the radio. The school closing list is endless today. It would be faster to say which schools are open."

"Really." She smiled.

"And the businesses are shutting down, too. Apparently it's this bad all over the area. Nobody expected a storm like this."

I did, she thought.

"Now what am I going to do?" Under the frustration, she could hear a touch of relief in his voice. "All the work I was going to finish up today. I couldn't get to the office, not even in a helicopter."

"You can't go to work, and neither can I," she said. The snow whispered all around them. "We'll just have to stay home. For the first time in a long time. Together."

His body relaxed a little, and the tense muscles of his neck seemed to loosen. "Yes, I guess we could, at that."

"When we met, it snowed." She breathed in the heavy, cold air.

"And we walked through the streets together. Just the two of us."

"You said the city belonged to us alone."

"It felt that way."

"Our first time, it was snowing." She smiled, leaned back against him.

"The big blizzard. Yes, I remember. Another freak storm, like this one."

"I know something we could do in this blizzard."

He looked at her, his eyes bright. "I suppose we could."

She smiled at him. "Long live the snow." Swirls of white danced through the air in front of the porch.

"You know," he said as they turned back to the house, "if I didn't know better, I might even think you'd caused this storm."

"Ah," she said, "but you do know better, don't you?"

The breath of snow touched their backs as they closed the door on the storm.


Copyright © 2000 Nora M. Mulligan

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Nora M. Mulligan lives in Peekskill, New York, with her husband, daughter, and two cats. She's the author of Transformations, an e-novel published by Sirius Publishing, and short stories published in several places online and offline. For more about her and her work, see her Web page.