GH Monday: Day 02 Scene 07
She woke up in the dark and knew she wouldn’t get back to sleep. She eased out of bed, careful not to wake Kate, who murmured a little and snuggled back down under the quilt. She padded over to the window and peered out through the slatted blinds. It had stopped snowing. The world was white, orange-tinged under the street lights, covered in a pristine layer of virgin snow. Irresistible. Even when she was a child, she’d always woken early, particularly on snow days, eager to get outside, to be able to play before being wrestled by Aunt Sophie and her cousin Mary into school clothes and onto the school bus and a day spent at her school desk.
Now she dressed quietly in thick leggings, a thermal top and hooded jacket. She shrugged on snow boots and a thick ski coat, put her keys and phone in her pockets, grabbed her neck warmer, hat and gloves. She shut the door quietly and trod lightly down the back stairs. She didn’t want to wake Aunt Sophie. Outside, it was bitterly cold and the snow was deep, each step burying her to the knees. She kept her snowshoes and sled in a shed at the back of the house. She retrieved them both, strapping on her snowshoes, and headed up the driveway and out into the street. Already her fingers and ears were starting to hurt in the biting cold, so she put on her neckwarmer, hat and gloves. She set off, pulling the sled behind her, revealing in each step that broke the fresh, untouched snow. Just like when she was a kid, she felt like the first man on the moon.
Davis Square was near deserted, only the snow ploughs and an occasional car passing through. A homeless man, dressed in so many layers that he looked obese, except for the gauntness of his cheeks, was trudging up the stairs from the T. No doubt he’d managed to spend the night down there, but had been kicked out by staff when it opened. She trudged past him and onto the bike path, which wasn’t cleared. Here she picked up her pace, bounding through the snow with a loping gait, as fast as her snowshoes would let her. It was hard work, that soon had her sweating and breathless, but she was laughing at the childish thrill of it. She wished she had someone with her, to throw a snowball at. The snow was wet enough to make really good snowballs and she made a few, threw them at the fence that divided the path from the houses beyond. At the other end of the path, she turned left, past the elementary school, through the underpass and past the projects into Danehy Park.
It was still dark and unlike the bike path, the park had no lights, but the snow was bright enough for her to see by. No one else was around. The children’s playground at the entrance to the park had been turned by the night’s magic into an ice palace, the slides and climbing frames becoming part of the castle walls and battlements. She trudged further into the park. The trees were on the move, another consequence of the storm, lumbering slowly in the dark like cows. She dodged past one, as it carefully used its long, trailing roots to push itself along. It ignored her and she in turn ignored it to trudge up the hill that the kids used as a sled run. She was the only one here, the slope fresh and untouched. She stood at the top of her hill, only her footprints, large and yeti-like, visible in the snow. Even the trees hadn’t blundered along here. She took off her snowshoes, put her sled flat on the ground, lay down on her front and set off.
The first few runs were slow, the snow soft enough to impede her progress, but the bottom of her sled gradually made a track, compacting the snow beneath into an icy trail. By the time the sky was beginning to lighten to a charcoal dawn, she was skidding down at speed, grinning like a fool. She retrieved her snowshoes, strapped them back on and made her way back out of the park, giving a happy wave to a lumbering tree as she passed it. The tree did not wave back. The roads had all been ploughed by now and traffic had picked up. It was six thirty in the morning and people were already waking up, heading into work. In the end, she took off her snow shoes and carried them with one hand, her sled with the other, walking in the street as it was quicker.
There were cow-ghosts in the parking lot of the shopping centre, escaped from the Common, wandering aimlessly amongst the snowy mounds underneath which were buried cars, only the occasional windscreen wiper sticking out from a pile to identify them. She walked quickly along the streets back home, to the three-family that her cousin Mary and Mary’s husband owned. People were emerging into the day, a neighbor digging out his car, another spot already dug out with a plastic chair warning others not to park there. The first floor tenant, Peter, was heading down the porch steps, dressed in a blue windbreaker, beige chinos and brown snow boots. He stepped onto the sidewalk and sank past his calves, over the top of his snow boots.
“When are you going to clear the sidewalk?” he demanded, angrily.
“Don’t you think you should have cleared it before you went off playing on your sled?”
“No,” she grinned at him. He stomped off angrily, heading towards the T station. “Who wears chinos in the snow?” she added under her breath, scornfully.
She put her snowshoes and sled away, took out the snowblower from the shed and used it to clear the drive and sidewalk. She shoveled both the front and back steps and lay down ice melt everywhere. Aunt Sophie was not always steady on her feet and was always frightened of falling. The Jeep Wrangler was parked on the drive and she dug out it too, pushing the snow off the roof and hood. She put the snowblower and shovel away and made a note to buy more ice melt. By now it was fully daylight, the sky lightening to a pale blue that promised to be a sunny day, once the cloud cover fully burned off. She looked at her watch; she had enough time for breakfast, which was a relief. She was starving. She jogged up the back stairs, not bothering to be quiet this time, and headed into her attic apartment. Kate was gone, only the messed up sheets on the bed and the faint smell of her left behind. She took her coat off, removing her phone from her pocket. She had a text.
- City says no snow day, kids will be disappointed! Me too, got to go to work, Kxxx
Indigo stripped, leaving her clothes where they fell, and showered quickly, cleaning her teeth, then dressed again in her usual jeans and hooded top. She gathered up her keys, her laptop bag and coat, put her snow boots back on and headed downstairs to Aunt Sophie’s apartment.
“Good, you’re here,” Aunt Sophie greeted her from the kitchen as Indigo kicked off her boots at the door, dumping her bag and coat on the floor beside them. “Breakfast is ready.”
“Good timing,” Indigo sat at the granite kitchen island that served as counter top and breakfast bar.
“I heard you come in, dear. A herd of elephants might have been quieter.”
Indigo grinned, hearing the love in her aunt’s voice. “I was always light-footed.”
“Oh yes,” her aunt deftly turned an omelet onto a plate and handed it to her. “You were always the delicate one, Mary and I commented on that often.”
Indigo snorted, grabbed a slice of wheat toast from the stack Aunt Sophie had already prepared, buttered it liberally and started to wolf it down, along with the ham and cheese omelet.
“I always miss you a little on Mondays,” Aunt Sophie said, a little wistfully, her hands wrapped around her coffee mug as she watched Indigo eat. She wasn’t much of a morning person, wouldn’t be up at all, if it wasn’t to see Indigo safely off to work.
“You’ll be fine,” Indigo washed down her mouthful with some hot coffee. “You’ll be able to get some painting done without me here to drive you nuts.”
“I know, I just really enjoy our weekends together.”
“Me too,” Indigo winked at her. “But I’ve got to go and earn our rent, or Mary’ll be raising merry hell.”
“My daughter has one hell of a work ethic for a stay-at-home mum,” Aunt Sophie said, acidly.
“Staying at home with your two grandsons is a full time job in itself,” Indigo pointed out, wiping the last of the toast around her plate before munching on it. She swallowed the last of her coffee.
“Are you still hungry? I have fruit…?”
“No, I’m fine, I’ve got to get going,” Indigo stood up, her stomach comfortably full.
“You don’t want more coffee?”
“No, sorry Aunt Sophie, I’ve got to go or I’ll be late.” She kissed her aunt on the cheek, holding her in a brief hug. Then she shrugged on her coat, slung her laptop back across her body, stomped her feet into her boots.
“See you later.”
“Call me if you’re going to be late, dear, I don’t want to worry about you.”
“Okay, I will.”
“Love you,” Aunt Sophie called as Indigo was shutting the door. Indigo opened the door again.
“Love you too,” she blew her aunt a kiss, ignoring the tears that were gleaming in the older woman’s eyes, then shut the door and thundered down the stair. She climbed up into the freezing Wrangler’s driver’s seat, turned all its heaters up to full blast. She kept her gloves on while waiting for the steering wheel to warm up and backed out of the drive. Once in the street, she looked up to see Aunt Sophie at the living room window on the second floor, peering anxiously out. She gave a cheery toot on her horn and a wave, Aunt Sophie’s face creasing into an anxious smile.
© Essie Gilbey, 2014