2.5.2014 Journal Prompt

February 5, 2014: She should have stayed home.

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One thought on “2.5.2014 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    She should have stayed home. It said so on the radio, a message from the police, and weathermen talking isobars and cold fronts and snow falling as a blanket to cover even the low ground. The roads were already shut and there were reports of travellers stuck and a truck overturned. And schools were all closed and she phoned her work and there was a recording playing on a loop saying there was no one to take her call.

    The air was colder than she’d known and heat from the two-bar electric fire did not reach all the corners of the room. She dressed without leaving her bed, like she’d done when she was a kid getting ready for school, and her breath in the house came out in a mist. She refilled her hot water bottle and made a second cup of coffee so she had something to warm her hands on. Then she thought of her da.

    She phoned him at shorter and shorter intervals throughout the morning. He did not answer. There was nothing unusual in that; he hated the phone, barely tolerated it. ‘If you want to know how I am then you should come see,’ was what he always said. But his not answering was a worry given the weather.

    She wanted to tell him to keep warm, and to shut all the windows, and wear an extra sweater and extra socks, and to drink plenty of hot soup. Not hearing his voice at the other end of the line she began to worry. She phoned a neighbor and Mrs Coop said that the lights were on in the house and music was playing too loud, and she was sure he was fine. ‘So long as we all stay home, in a day or two the weather will have passed,’ Mrs Coop said.

    It was a Tuesday and he’d be expecting her. Every Tuesday for seven years and she’d never missed a one. He’d understand, of course. Everywhere was shut and nothing moving. But he’d need his toenails cutting and his hair washed, and meals prepared for the week, and the sheets on his bed wanting changed, and the bathroom beginning to smell, and all his dishes lying dirty in the sink.

    She put on her coat and her winter boots. She tried the phone again and again there was no reply. She swore and knotted a scarf about her neck and looked out her gloves and a hat. She peered outside. There was maybe a foot of snow on the road and it was still falling. One year when she was a kid it had snowed something the same and they’d taken a sledges up Pikestaff Hill, her and her da. He’d told her to hold on tight and he’d pulled her all the way to the top and he kept checking to see she was safe.

    She left the heating on low and the radio. Something to come home to, she thought. Then she stepped out, locked the front door behind her and set off. It was quiet, snow-muffled and sleep-quiet. Like the whole world was someplace else. It was pretty too, like everything had been made clean and all the sharp edges made soft. She had to lift her legs high, like she was climbing stairs, and she lost her footing sometimes and that made her laugh, and her breath came quick and short, and a voice in her head saying over and over that she should have stayed home.

    * * *

    And snow falling and falling, like feathers from a burst pillow when it is shook, blotting out the streets, and the sky grey and heavy; and slow and slower was her pace so that her da’s house seemed to be moving further from her. And cold creeping like a thief, creeping through her and making her thoughts slow, too. Slow enough for stopping to rest; just for a minute she said to herself, and she sat at the side of the road, or it might have been in the road for there was no telling. And she closed her eyes, and gave in to the seductive tug of sleep. Just for a moment, she said.

    And she remembered her da and the dishes in his sink and the phone ringing unanswered. And she scolded him for that. On such a day, she said. When you know I worry. And she put on a pot of soup to heat and she made him wear an extra sweater and she tipped more coal onto the fire even though he was being careful. All that in her head as she slipped into sleep. And her da saying she should have stayed home and his scold words becoming snow-soft and whispered, and then silent.

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