And welcome back to more of my week off!
He was warm. For the first time in a very great while, he felt warm. There was no snow melting under his body nor was it invading his coat, sinking its cold fangs into his very flesh. He felt comfortable. Dry. Both of which were such an enigma to him he couldn’t help but ponder whether or not he had finally ceased to exist. Even as his shoulders, now released from the burden of hunching forward and bracing against the bitter wind, loosened he couldn’t help but wonder if he was now dead.
Other muscles continued to follow suit causing violent shivers to course through his body, teeth colliding against each other- a rapid staccato that sent a jarring fear through him. His eyes flew open, bright lights causing him to squint, even as they darted around the room. He saw people scattered about like tumbleweeds giving him the disjointed thought he was about to be gunned down. In the space of an interminable breath, he heard a voice. The woman with brown hair was speaking to him and she was asking him his name. It had been so long since he had said it, longer still since he heard anyone else say it. He whispered: Christopher.
The desire to speak to her further, to touch her hand and simply say he knew about grief so great it could, and did, overwhelm, was a weight upon him, compelling and pushing him to vocalize. But the crippling fatigue pulled him under before he had the chance.
When he awoke again the room was somewhat dark, the only light coming from a Christmas tree glowing in the corner. The couch, in all its sumptuous revelry coaxed his body into lying upon it for just a bit longer while he stared at the decorated fir. Those lights, pale white and twinkling, glittered and spun upon the ornaments as the sleeping dog gave chase. The branches leaped and bounced as the sandy colored mutt’s tongue lolled about, a big grin spreading his black lips that could only occur when the hunt had proved victorious.
The amusement he felt at such a sight as this dog in the throws of dream induced rapture was foreign to him. It wasn’t a smile crossing his features, he knew, but the easing of the now chronic pained grimace. His mind tripped upon that thought, the very uniqueness of it, and as he did so felt the comfortable expression form again.
Comforted, he looked around the room taking in the gleaming wood of the end tables, the unlit fireplace’s ivory marble strewn with pictures of various shapes and sizes. Stockings with embroidered names and images hung at a perfect 45 degree angle looking strangely bereft without their treasures to offer. A painting of lilypads hung upon the wall running perpendicular to the couch. It looked like something he had seen at a museum once- Monet, he thought, could have painted it.
But that knowledge came from different times. Ones filled with creature comforts, joy and always the abundance of love. Art had been something everyone in his family had enjoyed and often would partake of together on the weekends. New York City wasn’t so very far away, nor did the walk through the splendor of Manhattan go unappreciated. Their little unit had thrived on those adventures in the concrete and chaotic jungle then reveled in the sumptuous feast they would partake of when there.
He had become jaded by the age of forty and having the opportunity to see, to experience the world around him through the eyes of his children- even if only a sandwich of turkey and Brie – filled him with wonderment. Everything became fresh and new, a world somehow unknown to him before, had opened up in front of him and he had felt as though that was it. Things were then as they should have been all along: awe inspiring, mind boggling and precious. But it had all gone away. He could feel tears begin to form, searing his wind abused corneas as he thought of that moment when wonderment turned to horror.
A sound, distinctly human, came from across the room pulling him out of his reverie. It was a voice, soft and sweet, asking him to follow. He moved stiffly to his feet, his body aching and screaming, then shamefully following. She had done more than he ever would have asked for, more than he could have hoped for, and with that he walked to the door at the end of the hallway. His fingers wrapped around the knob only to be covered by a warm grasp and that voice again saying he should trust her.