shuffling snow

December 27, 2022


He stood near the doorway, looking inside through a small window pane.

His gaze was fixed on the window.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“Watching,” he said.

He did not move.

“And Listening,” he added.

The night was incredibly cold.

“And praying…” he whispered.

I zipped my coat up to my neck. “Out here?” I asked, shivering. “By yourself?”

He did not answer. He did not blink.

“Aren’t you cold?” I asked him.

But he did not remove his eyes from the window.

I shuffled my feet awkwardly in the snow, thinking.

“Do you…. want to go in?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Oh. Well….” I shuffled my feet some more. “Did you…. try knocking?”

“Yes,” he said. “I always do….”

The night air shifted and with it I heard the faint sound of a particular music, mysterious and muffled, coming from inside the house.

“Did you think they heard you? Maybe they couldn’t hear you. Maybe there’s a like a doorbell or something and you could ring-”

“Bells were rung. Repeatedly.”

“Bells? More than one? Repeatedly.”

“Yes,” he whispered, eyes frozen to the frosted house glass.

“And… you’re sure they heard it? Because, well now that I can hear it, that music in there sure is pretty loud. I’m not so sure they could hear you. What if you got a train horn or a-”

“No,” he whispered, still staring through the glass.

“But….” I asked, teeth chattering, “how do you know?”

And He moved, for the first time, his head turning slowly until he directly faced me.

He looked deep into my eyes, staring with an invitation to look and see and know. He did not blink, or even speak a word, as a large tear -illuminated by the light of a single, clouded orange crescent moon- slid down his sunken and sullen cheek and dropped into shadow, somewhere below.

I looked away, down and towards the ground, in fear or respect or both.

It hurt me, for some unstrange reason.

I shuffled my feet some more, the frostbite setting in.

“I… see.”

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