Girl, Snowflake, Girl
After carrying the last of the Christmas presents into the house, I returned to the car and stood in the driveway, purveying the bare street, my neighbors' lawns like bad haircuts, too many bald spots, the grass sparse, haggard split-ends from a previous summer. The summer had been too good. Too protective. The grass had been spoiled.
It was then when she walked right up to my face. A slight girl with a deadened gaze in her eyes. A girl from nowhere. Do you have a snowflake, she said. What? I said. Do you have a snowflake, she said. She studied me as if I could be someone she was building from scratch.
At first, I thought she was pulling my leg. She was too old to be a child, yet too young to have given up on the possibility of snow. I wondered if she was ever institutionalized. In such a place, she would have so much time to think about the snow.
I followed her down the block. She kept walking without turning. Inside the houses, I imagined mothers and fathers like safety nets, and their reckless children at the windows, complaining, waiting for snow.
She sat down on some stranger's porch and folded her hands. When do you think it will snow, she said.
I sat down next to her and said, It will snow sooner or later. Probably much sooner than later. You just have to wait. Isn't it like that with everything, I said. If you wait long enough, the sky will cave in to your demands. It will snow, I said, but be patient. It has to be the right moment. Or the sky will not open its mouth. The timing has to be precise. Some things you can't rush, I said. Like love.
She said nothing. So stringent with words, so generous with her silence.
Look here, I said. I jumped off the porch and planted myself on the stranger's front lawn. Scooping and stacking clumps of air, I demonstrated how to build a snowman. Speaking with my back towards her, I said, this will be a perfect snowman. You can bring this snowman into your house and it will not melt. You can bring this snowman into your bedroom, and he will always smile. If you don't have anyone to keep you warm at night, this snowman will always be there for you, arms outstretched, that funny, outrageously unconditional smile that he has only for you. Would you like to bring this snowman home, I said. Here, I said, he's finished. A perfect snowman who can sit right on your very bed. Would you like to give him a scarf? I said. Would you like to give him a carrot nose. Little chocolates for eyes. Would you like to give him a name? I turned around.
She was gone.
© Kyle Hemmings
Kyle Hemmings lives in New Jersey, where he skateboards, does backflips, and often misses.