Arese loved snow. She loved the different shapes a snowflake could take, the way the flakes danced around you as they fell as if to wrap you in a cocoon of warmth while the rest of the world froze, the way the ice tasted on her tongue and made her feel like a little child…
Throughout their first winter in America, Edo had laughed and laughed at her excitement every time snow fell. That was before he lost his well-paid job as an IT analyst and laughter had become a stranger in their lives.
But Arese stayed in love with snow, even when the hard times came by and didn’t leave. The only thing that was different was that she waited till Edo was asleep before slipping outside to open her mouth in anticipation of winter’s kisses whereas before they made love to the snow together.
It was snowing as she walked home from the clinic but for the first time in three years Arese took no notice of the masterpiece mother nature was painting with easels and brushes of ease. Her mind was so preoccupied that she forgot to take the bus that had brought her to the clinic and walked the three miles home instead.
It wasn’t until she arrived at her destination and heard the crunching sound of ice under her old boots that Arese noticed the world that had suddenly turned white. Even then there was no tasting snow flakes, no excitement for the onset of a new season, no hope for what it might bring, no faith for the darkness its purity might take away
Inside the house, it was warm and Arese knew Edo was home. They only turned on the heaters when either one of them was home. In fact Arese had recently begun to suspect that Edo took on extra hours at his job as a supervisor at Chipotle on the days she was working at the library to save on gas.
She found him sprawled underneath the covers on their bed. He grew a beard every winter and Arese hated it. His smile was hard enough to find these days without the beard getting in the way.
She watched him for a while, her Edo; her heart breaking with every second for the man who had lost his way, a man for whom the American reality had fallen short of his dreams.
In the kitchen, she found that he had made shrimp stew and Arese smiled. It was her favorite too but food was the last thing on her mind. On the dining table were the latest stack of bills they had to pay and Arese’s heart skipped at the thought. She was the one who balanced their accounts every month, the one with the nightmares of bankruptcy and courts closing on the only thing they had left to their name – the house.
An abortion was out of the question of course; Edo would never stand for it. She knew he wouldn’t stand for giving their child up for adoption either. She also knew she wouldn’t stand for watching any child of hers go hungry. Until she got her nursing degree from the community college, she was limited to earning minimum wage. Edo still applied for jobs every day but the recession had suddenly made him overqualified for all the jobs that could lift them from the hole they had fallen.
Her last thought before falling asleep was ‘how did this happen?’ With her pills and diaphragm and Edo’s condoms? They had been so careful, even to the extent of declining to hold other people’s babies for fear that that might be a signal to heaven that they wanted their own.
‘Arese! Arese! Wake up Arese!’
‘Hey,’ she muttered as the cloak of sleep under which she had sought refuge was unveiled
‘ Is everything alright’? Edo asked. ‘You were frowning in your sleep.’
‘I was?’ She answered yawning.
‘You were! It was almost as if you were mad at someone. I sha hope it was not me.’ He said with a small smile before sitting on the coffee table.
‘Anyway I have to get to work. I am already late. I am hoping to get some overtime in so i can get mi’lady a new coat for Christmas’
He was putting on his shoes with an excitement that would put a little child’s excitement at going to the amusement park to shame yet Arese could see the fatigue in his eyes.
She wanted to ask him to stay, to not worry about new coats; she could always resort to second hand ones Goodwill after all. But she had learned that his pride was a fragile thing these days and she was still learning not to be what tripped it and made him fall. She wanted to kiss the tiredness away from his soul, the dream back into his eyes but she could not that either. All she had growing inside her was another reason for him to those frown lines to get deeper, a reason for the tiredness to never stop eating away at his soul.
Still she leaned in to kiss him anyway.
‘What was that for?’ he asked, surprised.
‘For taking such good care of me, for being everything I need right now,’ she answered.
He starred into her eyes for a few seconds. A year back and he would have known that there was more to be said but today his eyes were clouded by the reality that he had failed to give her the dreams he promised, by the determination to never stop trying.
He kissed her back and then abruptly stood up to leave.
She waited till she was sure he was gone and not coming back before picking up her phone to call the clinic and fix an appointment for next Tuesday, an appointment to save whatever was left of their dream, a appointment that would maybe return them to the times when something as little as a snowflake was enough reason for joy.
Song of the Day: Jason Mraz- Sleeping To Dream