Short Fiction 3rd Place (tied) - Literary LEO 2015

Jan 28, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Snow Day

By Peter Stavros

I’m not ready for this goddamn weather, as I sit in traffic, the expressway a parking lot, first snowfall of the year, a couple inches at most yet still enough to cause chaos, like no one has ever seen snow before in Louisville, a city that can’t decide if it’s in the Midwest or the South, but when it comes to snow, even a couple inches, it’s definitely in the South, everything out of sorts, school closings, “Extreme Weather Team” crawls on the local TV channels, a run on eggs and bread and milk at Kroger – as if everyone suddenly craves French toast in the wake of Armageddon – the expressway a parking lot, exhaust fumes seeping in through the vents. And it’s Monday, and my Colts got demolished by the Patriots last night.

Sadie is sitting next to me, saying something about Thanksgiving next week, our year to go to Pittsburgh – and I’m not allowed to call it Shitsburgh – to be with her family, and a million other things it seems, loud the way she gets when she’s excited, while I’m focused on the road, gripping the steering wheel at ten o’clock and two o’clock the way they taught us in Drivers Ed thirty years ago, which I never do unless it snows because I don’t want someone in a Prius sliding into me, and there should be a law against people who don’t clear off their back window and if there is it should be enforced. The radio is playing static in the background, R.E.M. the DJ murmurs, as I think how Sadie chose the wrong day to drop her car off at the shop for an oil change and to fix the visor that won’t stay up and is completely obnoxious the way it just hangs there. I have to drive her to work, and I was going to be late for work already, what with the weather, and now I’m really going to be late.

Sadie says we can start having babies now that I’m working again, and we’re back on our feet, and she’s not getting any younger I know, and I know, and I tell her that I know, and I say yes, and I rub the back of my hand up-and-down up-and-down against the window on my side where it’s fogging up even with the defroster on full blast, and my shoulders are tense and I can feel my heart racing in my chest because I can’t afford a wreck now, now that everything finally seems okay, and I haven’t taken my pills. A tractor trailer barrels by and splashes a line of chunky wet slush on the windshield with a smack and Sadie and I both kind of jump in our seats. She continues talking, without missing a beat, without any segues, about green bean casserole and pumpkin rolls, and her fantasy football team, and that girl in her department who did that thing, and how she held our goddaughter at communion yesterday. Sadie still calls it “our church” although I stopped going late last year when all of that went on with me, after everything else, and I haven’t been back, fell out of the habit and I figure why bother since bad things are going to happen anyway, and good things might happen anyway, and this way at least I have my Sundays free and more time to read the paper in the morning or go for a long bike ride at Cherokee Park or rake leaves in the backyard. Sadie hasn’t said anything, not directly, but I’m sure she thinks about it, and she wants me to come back, and she thinks I will, which is probably why she continues to call it “our church” although I haven’t been in a while.

Forty minutes or so of white knuckles driving and Sadie recounting her world to me, and I exit the expressway, and take the surface streets to the industrial park to Sadie’s building. She says there’s a spot out front where I can pull in to let her off, and I do, and she gathers her stuff, her purse and her laptop and the lunch I made for her in the insulated tote decorated with pink flowers, and leans over to give me a kiss and touch me delicately on the cheek and tell me she loves me, and I tell her I love her too, and I do, and I can breathe again, and I make a face and Sadie laughs and says she likes it when I’m silly. Then she pivots around and out and shuts the door behind her. I ease on the gas and give two quick taps of the horn as I watch Sadie through the rearview mirror scamper inside, and I still remember how nervous I was when I picked her up for our first date, ten years next month. I always knew she would save me someday.

On the way to my office, I notice how there’s just enough snow to top the grass, and the brown patches in between, like marshmallow frosting, and all the trees that had looked so crisp and dead are outlined in white piping, and it makes everything seem brighter and clean with a spot of light blue in the sky escaping from beneath the choking gunmetal clouds, but it’s not sticking to the roads downtown, and the parking lot is clear. I guess I didn’t need to wear my Bean Boots but my wingtips are new and I don’t want to get them wet and salty because I’m trying to take care of this pair better than the last so I keep them in the plastic Target bag as I walk across the plaza. Maybe this will be a mild winter, and maybe it won’t be so bad after all, and maybe it won’t get any worse than this, and this really isn’t so bad, this couple inches of snow, this first snow day.