a soft white blanket

a soft white blanket


A soft white blanket of snow stretched out across the rooftops and over the streets.

I walked out the door, watching heavy flakes spiral down out of the grey-white silence. They clung to the power lines in little desperate groups that would swell and slip and ultimately fall, dragged down by their own weight.

One length of wire shrugged off its ineluctable burden again and again. Three, four, five times.

Each time, as the snow collected, I imagined the line would stretch and sag under the gravid white swelling — I kept expecting it to snap back like a bowstring once it sloughed off its charge. But again and again, as the snow slipped silently from it, the black-cased line only seemed to quiver against the blank sky and sag a little lower.

In the silence, I could feel each snowflake weighing down upon me, pressing into my thoughts.

They turned over and over in my mind, until I could feel each flake as a unique moment. A moment gone by, an opportunity missed, an action to which I did not respond, or a challenge I had shrugged off and let fall to the ground without facing.

We have friends over for dinner.

“He let me put my vibrator in him last night,” my wife says at the table. “In his ass.”

I turn red. “You said you wouldn’t tell anyone …”

After our friends have gone, she says “It’s your fault, you know. If you hadn’t made such a big deal out of it, no one would have believed me.”

We let the dishes pile up.

Plastic bags full of garbage sit tied by the door.

She binges. She purges. She pulls out her curls.

I find a Häagen-Dazs pint container filled with frothy vomit and pubic hair.

I let her pluck out my own pubic hair. She grips five or ten of them at a time between thumb and fore and middle fingers, and with a painful twist, she jerks them free.

And it hurts. But … “I can’t wait to put it in my mouth,” she says. “It’s gonna be amazing … so smooth.”

Only, she doesn’t put it in her mouth. She loses interest somewhere between the plucking and the sucking and I wake up the next morning with a swollen scrotum and a vague feeling of malaise I can’t quite pin down.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asks.

“Nothing,” I answer.

“I can tell something is bothering you. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Nothing is wrong.” I say. I don’t know that I am lying.

The phone rings. She’s calling from a friend’s place. She’s drunk, says she’ll be home soon. She calls a few hours later, from some bar. She’s high, says she’ll be home soon. She calls an hour later, from a professional football player’s hotel room, the sounds of glassware and music and revelry crowding out her voice. “Can you believe it?” She asks. Can I believe it?

“When are you coming home?”

“Soon.”

She comes home just before dawn, and I go to bed. “I was worried,” I say. I have to be at work in three hours.

One night, she doesn’t come home until the next afternoon.

I watch the phone. I watch the clock. I imagine ice crystals drifting gently to the floor. They swirl into little eddies as currents of air sweep through the room, pushing them into drifts, into banks that collect in the corners, covering the baseboards, covering the electrical outlets, reaching higher with each passing moment.

I’m sorting dirty laundry on the floor of the living room when she comes in. She sits on the couch and looks at me. She looks fragile. Vulnerable.

I look at her.

“I …" she says. She has a hard time getting started. Her voice is unsteady. There might be tears in her eyes.

I look at the clock. I look at the laundry.

She tells me about a man who made her feel something. He bought her flowers, she says. Made her feel special. Made her feel wanted. She went back to his place. They had sex. She slept in his bed.

I feel something. I don’t know what it is. I feel cold. I feel hot. Something presses down upon my tired body.

I’m half buried in the snow, skin burning with wet heat and ice.

I see her through the haze of a soft white blanket. Her face is blurred and pale.

I move closer to her, and I kiss her. She kisses me back. We fuck.

Right there on the couch, we fuck. Amidst the banks of snow, we fuck. In the drifts of dirty laundry, we fuck and it is something.

It is something hot and angry, and I feel it. I feel something. The snow doesn’t melt, but we are making something. It isn’t love, but we are making something.

Afterward, that something is gone.

“I’m late for work,” I tell her. “Finish the laundry.” Outside, a soft white blanket of snow stretches out across the rooftops and over the streets.

I walk out the door into the grey-white silence, pretending not to notice as she starts to cry.

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