The sound of snow falling continues to bubble up around me.
Deep and slightly hollow cries come from across the street, and in the distance crackle the back noise of the west wind. My feet hit the street harder and closer to the ice and snow, and my chest tightens as I struggle to overcome the narrow space I’m in.
I walk, drifting around the corner, where I’ve been skating for most of the morning, and push myself across to the next stop.
When I step through the door, I slip into a chair and sit down. And in this chair, I try to imagine that much has changed.
Without the snow, there is no line of cars. No wind. There is still a line of cars, but it runs from the side of the hill, which means that once I’ve plowed across the tarmac, I’m walking down it again, past the next cars that roll by. I find myself walking in, and back out, on my axis.
“So, do you realize you’re walking back to the building where you were last talking with your editor?”
Yes, I realize. It looks pretty much the same from here.
“That was last Monday,” I say. “And I’m here today. I’m walking to the editor’s office and back.”
I don’t know what my editor was saying in that last conversation. What was the last thing he said?
“It was about last night, the night I met Terry.”
A cat sits outside, cat-noiseic, its beautiful, dynamic, but muted, voice creating a kind of audio text that echoes its bigger brother inside. My head swells with pride. There is to me the expression of complete community and, once again, I’m part of that community.
While deep breaths get me through the tension, the sounds from the yard get closer and closer.
A barking dog flashes past. A small bird with its air of quietude rings out. Two stray cats meander around and eventually cross the street. And then something more ominous.
“I have ice on my beard.”
As I lean toward the doorway, I think about the ice on my beard, and I think about my face being frozen. While freezing seems dangerous, I think it’s helpful. Knowing that my face has the structure to resist the ice is comforting. I reach inside to pull myself together, feel myself warm.
I tuck my jacket in and put my snow boots on. As I walk out the door, I hear words being spoken.
“You should take a look at that place the mayor left the town hall. It’s sad. There are chairs behind the town hall that appear not to be in use.”
Nervous glances are exchanged. Someone tells another. “Look over there! It has a television.”
The T-Mobile store is an awkwardly shaped outpost. A boxy black plastic structure in a parking lot. It stands just outside the center of town, and has exactly the same features as the part of town where the mayor left town hall. No wainscoting and with a broken interior wall and odd and sad-looking leather couches set around what feels like a small pool.
I cross the road and follow the sign. The sign is all black, vaguely but unmistakably broken, however it reads: T-Mobile Stores Only. And then, a storm.
I’m still feeling shaken from the assault of sound, but it’s not too late to flee. While caught in the elements, I can also feel the passing of my body. And in that calmness, I remember what my new responsibility is.
I remember those conversations with my editor. I remember his eyes, the emptiness of his face in his hand, and I remember what his face told me:
“You and me, we need to work together.”
Nervous glances are exchanged.
That’s something I haven’t yet managed to get across.
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