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Girl in the Snow

He’d be back soon, and she was glad to be cold. From the passenger’s seat, she’d watched him float up the dark path. His footsteps remained, half-inch depressions in new snow. It fell—blue-tinted gobs of it, the kind that made children’s mouths water. Sticky snowflakes that tilted chins skyward and opened mouths wide.

She had decided to wait. She had asked him to turn off the engine. It wasn’t that cold, and they didn’t need to be wasteful. He’d taken his keys. It’d be quick, he’d said, like ripping off a bandage, and he’d return to her with snow in his hair and on his shoulders. She’d brush it off, make him tingle at her touch.

His figure disappeared into the cluster of apartments; it had been necessary to park the car that far away. She couldn’t have gone in with him, even if she’d wanted. Even if she was desperately curious. Her presence would be salt in the wound. She understood. She understood him—that’s why he’d chosen her. She wasn’t worried. If she was worried at all, it was about that shared dog, that his love for the yappy thing would make him lose his nerve. Dumb dog.

The car smelled minty—maybe it was her breath—and it felt warm enough. Not comfortable, but warm enough with her mittens and scarf. Other cars lined the road. Not many. She counted three—four, but the bend made it hard to be sure. The cars weren’t cars anymore, their backs rounded with heaps of dirty snow. Old snow caked in ice. She felt sorry for their owners. Useless cars frozen in place. How many times had the snow plow ruched up another wall of it? Only a persistent sun could free the metal beasts.

Those cars weren’t her problem though. She couldn’t see through the windshield any longer, and she couldn’t bring herself to get out of the car to clear it. She’d lose too much heat. The snow would come back. A Sisyphean task. Winter was worthless.

There were always summer stories of idiots leaving dogs and babies in hot cars, but you didn’t hear much about freezing. Cold was slow. The Earth warming. Each year there’d be more news about the infirm perishing, bodies slumped in rocking chairs, window fans shorted out. The stink they’d leave! She was glad to be cold and wiggled her fingers inside the mittens. She’d knitted him a pair in olive green because she believed he would do it—was surely doing it this very moment!—and he’d be quick, back any second, relieved to be done. He was doing it for them. Then, they could get their own dog (despite her allergies), a big one. A better one. An explosion of white fur! A dog to pull their baby’s wagon. Was she blushing? Such warmth in her cheeks. She couldn’t see through the windows, but he was coming. This was love, that thing she’d been waiting for, and he had to come now. So much snow falling, her spine bore the roof’s bow. The anticipation was a sweetness, a pleasure, because what a sight it would be, what a blessing, when he scraped away the snow and opened the door to her—waves of snow, a Hallelujah, the black sky white with snow—him lunging toward her, all reward for her patience—her faith without fear—and she’d kiss him madly, his one and only, her mouth opening and opening: her body warm pooling honey where he’d beg to swim.

Wendy Oleson’s flash fiction has appeared most recently in Atticus Review, Denver Quarterly, The Adroit Journal, and Fourteen Hills. She is the author of two award-winning prose chapbooks (from Gertrude Press and Map Literary) and serves as managing editor for Split Lip Magazine. She lives with her wife and dogs in Walla Walla, Washington.

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