The Snow, The Man, The Girl

This is a story about a woman who went searching for her father but never found him. This is a story about the father who started the fire every morning in the dark, nursing the sick blue flame with thin oil regulated by the brown dial which she was never allowed to touch. This is the story about the father who left early in the dark, leaving her in the empty house facing the window filled with snow and the small wind-up clock moving its hands towards the arrival of the bus down the black wet road which would take her back to her father in his windowed office at the school. At the end of the day, she could ride the bus home again to the empty house or wait and ride home with him in the silent car, the tense day suspended, hanging from the green cloth ceiling of the car as he changed gear three times, past the store, down the long hill, across the bridge. Always an uneasy truce between them. Nothing for a man almost 60 and a teenage girl to talk about. His dry facts up against her affairs of the heart. He gave her a radio on which she listened to love songs into the night while he slept alone. Treating her like the cat, forgetting to feed her, not knowing where she went. Not wanting to deal with it, with her, with all of that. The self-contained man, unsure of women, not wanting to know them, just the facts of them--name, height, birthplace. He wondered where she went, like the cat, would she come back? He read about love in a psychology book; had no way to fathom her--dark and silent as he. Never speaking, never crying, never touching, never emoting. All he wanted was her achievements--report cards, awards--all written down in black and white in a clean linear fashion. Their few conversations revolved around the weather--thermometers, barometers, wind-chill factors, oil gauges, propane gauges. He could not and would not read her; somehow afraid of her--120 pounds of love-stricken teenager. All they could share was the newly formed sheet of ice on the snow. The only warmth they shared was the deep snow which covered it all up, insulated the house, softened their steps, billowed down for days, froze the pipes, made her escape impossible or at least impractical. The deep white snow was the only thing that held them together that winter.

6-17-05
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