Snowy Eve – Short Story #2

The snow was falling sideways. Her vision went white. Her eyes stung with every invading flake. It was a battle to trek across those slippery, unkept pavements. But she labored on into the mist. Her feet slipped time and time again under the crushed snow. Barely recovering and sometimes stumbling, she kept her face like stone, adamant that she would not be late this time.

An onlooker noticed her struggle from the window. From the inner comforts of a fire soaked living-room, he took pleasure in the snow. It was a falling meditation, an interlude which made for the perfect pause. He set aside the work that bothered him today, if only for an instant. It was always, always the same problems, the same people, the same the same the same. Every day and every season he felt like the women’s boots. Slipping, always slipping, barely getting by, but stepping all the same. A friend once told him the myth of Sisyphus. “We must imagine Sisyphus happy,” he said to him. Happy? In what world is Sisyphus happy? Though somedays he felt only Sisyphus understood. A call rang over the crackling of wood, breaking his calm, bringing his meditation to an abrupt end. Always, always it came to an end.

In the shop below his home Martha closed the glass door in a hurry to prevent the invading snow. But still a few dusts glimmered passed into the lights of the meat shop. Her meat shop. Well, her fathers really. How fitting, she often felt, it would have been to be born a boy. Then all this would be much simpler. Dad probably wanted it that way. To preserve the reputation he had built. But she was not a boy. She was a disappointment. She was a, “it’ll have to do”, a substitute. But she had made the best of it. The business was thriving, the community knew her well. And of course her mother was proud of her. She always understood better than anyone else. And truthfully she actually enjoyed it, the laborious work of meat. It took some getting used to at first, the always smelling bad at the end of the day, the mess, the cold, masculine feel of it all. But she liked being in charge. She was good at it. She flourished in marketing the shop, and making it more friendly to all kinds of people. That was the improvement she made. Her father was always too single-minded with his customers. She had done more.

He told her he would buy the meat. He had forgotten to do it the day before. She always hated how absent minded he seemed to be, but to him that was the best part of him. He was able to just be somewhere and not have to do a single thing being there. Though he often forgot things with this philosophy. As he entered the shop, attempting to keep the snow from joining him, he was greeted by Martha. She was always kind to him. “Hello Todd, what a storm we’re having today.” Yes, what a storm indeed. It seemed to never end, like it had no beginning. It was the little things really. The nit-picking, the crude remarks, the swearing at him. These things drove him mad. He was tired, just too tired of it all to care anymore. He felt wholly indifferent. Like a sky full of stars singing over a bloody battle field. But he knew it didn’t matter what he felt. he was just happy to do what he loved and to do it in peace. “Yes, I need to buy a ham, do you have any?” Of course they did, it’s a butcher after all. Martha went to the back for some extra packaging, and he noticed the mirror that hung behind the register. Why was it there? he wondered. But looking a moment longer at himself he marveled at the changes. Men often keep a photographic idea of what they look like in their heads, often embellished in their favor, and that’s why they always find it shocking to see what they actually look like. Todd was no different. Men rarely used mirrors to begin with and he even less so. There was no point in it, to watch yourself and try to make it all perfectly palatable. For who? Who really took the same time to study another’s face the way we study our own? Besides, the wind and the lighting and the smudges from a pen would always intervene with any preparations he might make for the masses. Though he cared little what they thought. He used to. But he’s at the age where he is completely unnecessary to society and knows it well. He is not old enough to be wise yet not young enough to be innovative. He was somewhere in between those golden years of excitement and wonder and those elder years of calm and quiet. Martha returned with the ham already packaged up and in a bag for him. He paid her and gave up the usual pleasantries, though he feared they were less than so, and he was on his way. The snow was falling sideways. His vision went white. And indifferent to the world, he labored on into the mist.

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