“By the Snow” (749 words)

“Sometimes I think I see it in slow motion.” I say as I lie on Maggie’s bed. We’re just two eleven year old lying on a Queen-sized mattress fitting like newborn puppies in a backyard.
“In one window I’ll see the snow flowing with the wind, fast and wild. The other it goes down slowly, flowing gently like a bird caught in a strong winds. Like waiting for a drop of water to fall out of the faucet.”
“Why would you watch a drop of water fall out of a faucet?” Maggie lies beside me in the opposite direction, both our heads are touching.
“Boredom, I guess.”
“Future conservationist in the making,” Maggie giggles.
Last week Maggie finished reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. She loves to read books. And when I stay over we watch the History channel on her parents fifty inch screen TV for the fun of it. The Great Depression is my favorite topic, Maggie’s is World War II.
Disney is vastly overrated.
My mom was a college professor before she retired, so Maggie’s mom would pay her to tutor her. We hang out in Maggie’s house because of that. That’s how we met.
“I do enjoy hugging trees on occasion,” I reply in all seriousness. I look up at the ceiling and use my fingers to draw an imaginary tree. I’m not very good, but she gets the idea.
“Marcus?”
I turn over onto my stomach, my face resting on my hands. Maggie does the same. She looks at me straight in the eyes, unwavering. I know what she wants to say.
“Am I ever going to see you again?”
I look at Maggie for a moment, and look back at the window. The snowflakes are falling fast and I can’t really decide what to say to her.
“My mom said that Dad lost his job and we have to move far away, so he can get a new one. She said it just like that, like I wouldn’t understand.” I sit up, legs crossed and tap Maggie on the head with my fist. “I have your phone number in my notebook, though. And we can write letters to each other like your grandma said she used to with her friends, okay?”
When I turn back from staring at the window, I see Maggie holding back tears.
“It’s not the same,” she mutters. She rubs her eyes with the back of her hand, making them turn red.
I take Maggie’s hand away from her face and smile. “Maggie and Marcus, forever. That’s a promise.”
Maggie sticks out her pinky finger and frowns dramatically. “Pinky promise?”
***
“Pinky Promise.” I whisper to Maggie as she lies naked in my bed beside me twenty-five years later. I get up, slipping into my white bed robe and walk to the balcony outside my hotel room.
I touch the glass of the cold window, watching the snowflakes outside fall. They’re suspended in time, moving slowly, turning, drifting. Like I did for twenty-some years.
We hadn’t seen each other in so long, losing contact maybe five or six years after I moved away. I stopped answering phone calls because we always seemed to move to a new area, like gypsies from town to town. I grew up, forgot about the phone number in that notebook, lost it maybe between moves, and I never saw Maggie again. Until last night.
I remember the way she looked when she found me in the hotel lobby. I’m staying in New York for a couple of weeks to attend a work conference. She stood at my door in tight blue jeans and a white sweater, blond hair flowing and disheveled. There were tears in her eyes, that same bright smile when she saw my face. It was the kind of smile where all her white teeth showed perfectly, behind bright red lips. She had changed, I almost didn’t recognize her.
It was when she held up her pinky finger and looked me square in the eyes that I knew.

I look back at Maggie as she lies in my bed. She rolls over and wraps the sheets tightly around her, the cold air seeping into the room. I look back out to the balcony. The snow falls slowly but surely begins to pick up. Reality is coming back, but I shed my robe, slip back into the bed, wrapping my arms around Maggie.

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