We were fighting when the snow came and told us we were all changing people.
See what happens is, if it rains here everyone steps out on their porch and runs into one another, like maybe comets do sometimes in space, and do a little two-step to the rain, so you can understand why we didn't believe in death, or snow.
But it came, and with a soft thunder it rolled through town and clogged all the little arteries.
Everyone looked out their windows with scared eyes; their goose-flesh crawled, and in our house we said a prayer to know one, I think.
My wife said, look it's snowing, and that was it.
We just looked and held hands and put a towel under the door.
When they found the frozen homeless man in the park it confirmed all our fears.
The snow was moving, and it was killing.
We wanted to stop it, but our hands looked so small. Like little toy hands and we looked in each others dark faces and said, "Prolong this, will you?"'
Oh when we were young, which we really were--my doctor said it all the time--we read these little books that kept shouting,
"Do the right, make the right, find the right hiding in the orange groves. One day you to will be old and hollow and you will have to answer that call at the door."
I knew a man who hung sticks on his door, in great elaborate X's, and told all of us of a cold that froze a man where he stood, and she shook his head and said no man should ever have his last thought frozen in his head, forever unfinished; or burnt away in terrible fire, having all your thoughts fused together in a ball of pain, a candle of hell burning bright.
My father called our bloodline noble. Our people an unstoppable wall of breaking glass, tumbling at a world that knew nothing a pain or bleeding. But it would.
Then he died in his car. It burst into flames on the highway and a man on the news, in a helicopter, said it looked like a giant birthday candle.
I always wanted to tell people it was my birthday when he died, but it wasn't. My birthday is in May, but it still makes me sad and I feel like it was my birthday. I tell strangers it was, but no one even remembers that morning any longer and they look at me with watery eyes and try to nod their heads. It was just a seven minute story. After that My mother took a second job, on Mayday, and ran a flag up against the sun.
Everyone tells me I looked happier then. Thinner too. Now everyone says I look tired. My apartment shares a wall with a loud, but happy family who speak some language other than English. I can never quite discern what language no matter how hard I press my ear against the wall. Once, I thought the husband had killed the wife. But he didn't. I saw her later getting in their brown Pontiac. That was loneliest time of my life. I was living alone, Cathy had left me for some guy with a sense of humor, and I kept listening to this one song that sang over and over "Every good thing just dies." That's how I felt for a long time.
My mother had recently died. I drove through the desert to my sister's house in Reno. I had told Cathy that the town was like diet Las Vegas and that I hated how brown everything was. She said it felt clean and disinfected. I didn't see my sister Amanda until the funeral. I had been staying by myself in a Motel 8 off the highway. At night I could hear the cars humming by. I imagined they were a chorus of lions running by, doing laps around the world forever.
My sister said that Mom looked relieved right before she passed, "She looked at me like I would find comfort in that." I didn't tell Amanda, but I had hoped that Mom would just forget everything, all of us, all the pain in her life. Flush all the pain she ever felt and be born bright and clean again. Everyone kept saying "passed on" around me. I said, she's dead, and people nodded their heads and squeezed my shoulders. I told my sister I thought she had been wanting to die since dad died. My sister nodded but had this look on her face like I had taken something away from her, maybe she thought I didn't deserve my mother so well, since Amanda had taken care of her for so long.
This is all happened right before I was mugged on my way to work. Afterwards I took a shower and ate a sandwich the color of dirt. The window let the sun blind me, but I didn't move. Since then I spend most of my time still and quiet. When I look in the mirror all I see is lint. I can remember my dreams occasionally, and last night my parents were in it. They owed me money and I couldn't find my keys. They were just smiling at me and occasionally laughing at something I couldn't understand. Then I just started crying and my father's hand was poking out of crumbled concrete pillars. I woke up in the dark. There was sweat and tears covering me. It still makes me shiver to think about it.