The snow falls sideways. It is beautiful, but it is not right. It is explainable, but it is not excused. The ground does not blanket properly as little white mounds scatter selfishly amid random patches of dingy, green grass struggling desperately to survive the onslaught.
I need the snow to fall in its proper order. I want the snow to stay focused. I reach my hands out into the disturbance. Pieces of white, so small they seem not to exist at all on their own, swirl briefly around my hands, their pattern broken and battered. I realize I might break up this sideways snow if only for a moment. I lift my arms into the air above me and hold my face up in brazenness to the apathetic sky.
It is cold and I become tired. My arms fall down by my side in resignation to my brief rebellion. The sideways snow does not stop.
A dusky gray light shadows the room as it creeps its way down between the tall, brick buildings, wrapping itself through the alleyway and into the one small window that faces another small window that I could never see into. The scarlet red walls lose their sensuality in the gray light, becoming a colorless darkness that fades into unending blankness. A tall, shabby dresser standing in the far corner mounts the only defense, its creamy wood looming boldly in ghost-like confidence.
I lay prone and still upon the bed, my blankets pushed and prodded away from my skeletal form like the delicate folds of a satin-draped casket. An ancient black phone with its long cord of tightly spiraled plastic sits on the table by the bed. The headset lies across my chest, over my heart, breathing my breaths. I weave the phone cord around each finger, over and over, the only movement in the room. I stare at the scarred ceiling.
There is such a quiet in the room, as if the gray light blocks sound as well. No impatient horns or rumbling engines from the street, no downstairs apartment doors slamming, not even the train has announced itself with clockwork vibrations of windowpanes and antiquated back door locks. There is only her. Her voice gravelly seeping out of the headset that breathes my breaths. Her voice speaking over hundreds o f miles into my world, breaching the gray light’s power.
I am confined, tightly encased in the flagellating pulse of her words. They echo through my blood as they have done from my conception. Trapped by the circling steps of the tigress, unsure and confused by her instinct, I question what the tigress is protecting. The teeth are bared toward her own.
There was a time when I would listen. When I would attempt an answer against the words of accusations, each one sealed in stone and hurled mercilessly at her target. She spoke of betrayal as if I alone was responsible for the men who had not loved her. She spoke of rejection when all I had done was begun my life outside of hers. She spoke of separation and retreat when she had begun that process on the day of my birth. Honor thy mother. I owed her that. But it was not right.
I listen for a break in the steady hum of her voice. A possible release. I want to scream, but I know that will not stop her. I remain silent, slowly turning my cheek side to side.
My friend who loves me walks by my door. She stops as she sees the familiar scene that she cannot understand. Her arms push angrily against the doorframe as she silently mouths the words, “Hang up the phone. Just hang it up.” I shake my head back and forth, tears sliding steadily down my temples. As the wetness puddles into the black curls lying like swirled ink stains on the white pillow, I am aware of a slight chill creeping across my skin. My friend drops her arms from the door in defeat and stands guard quietly for a few moments. When she finally turns to go, I feel the look of surrender in her eyes, as when seeing a crippled bird on the side of the road, knowing there is nothing you can do for the creature, knowing his weakness will eventually overcome him.
I turn to look out the small window, the voice droning on and on. I see an edge of the darkening sky between the tall buildings. That must be where the gray light steals its way into my room, I think. I see it has been snowing. It is a beautiful snow. But it is falling sideways