I was wiping the dust off an old snow globe in the upstairs attic, when a mop of honey-blonde hair suddenly appeared through the wooden flooring.
"I thought I'd find you here," said the voice, warm and feminine. It was a lovely contrast to the thoughts that bloomed inside my head. The little red Santa smiling gaily, his gloved hand forever frozen in a wave. Truth be told it was over a hundred degrees outside, and up here in this cobweb-ridden place (by God) was practically unbearable.
But as I lightly shook the fragile keepsake I found myself dashing through the snow like I once did so many years ago. I heard the sound of high pitched laughter from afar, out in the sultry day (most likely the neighbor kids playing tag through a sprinkler-soaked lawn). But there, at that precise moment, I was taking the road before me, and singing a chorus or two.
"You miss him don't ya?" the voice broke me out of my thoughts, and for a moment I just stared at her as if she had a left over piece of spinach in her teeth. I nodded quietly in the silence and rubbed the smooth curvature of the glass with my thumb. It somehow felt cold, as if winter wonderland was still trapped inside.
I knew I hadn't stayed too long, though I knew my wife would be patient throughout this ordeal, however long it took. She didn't need to recite any famous sayings to pick me up, just her being there was enough. It was the unspoken truth between us, and it was always enough.
"Cody and Angie will be downstairs when you're ready to head out."
"I'm ready now. I was just doing a little cleaning up." It wasn't quite a lie. It was one of those statements we use to say one thing and mean the other. The attic was "okay", but I knew of more dire things in need of some organization.
Beth went down the ladder first, naturally. Then it was me, a bit awkwardly, still holding the snow globe. We both came into the living room, where our children sat waiting. Cody was playing some handheld video-game in his Hawaiian swimming trunks. Angie was quietly giggling at something her friend said, via text. Her blue bathing suit was barely more than a strap, and I knew I was this close from losing it. But this was a happy day, so I let it slide, just this once.
"Are you still not ready?" asked Angie.
I looked down at my blue work jeans and buttoned-up t-shirt. My wife gave her a fierce look, as if willing her to take back what she said. It didn't really matter though ... my emotions were spent.
"I was gonna change when we got there," I said, a bit defeated.
"Whatever." She rolled her eyes and plopped her phone right there on the couch. I just stood there like a lifeless statue, while my family got everything ready to head to the local pool. My wife was as patient as a snail, but the kids bustled about as if they've been down here a lifetime. Cody was mad when Beth took the game-boy from his hand, just before some big important checkpoint. Angie was calling Beth completely unfair for not letting her invite Tom over to come swim as well. My wife told her, "This is a family event, no exceptions, and for Pete's sake, listen to me for just this once!"
I just stood there, in quiet grief. Their voices were mere sounds, plastic and surreal, and I went along with it as if everything was alright. But it wasn't alright. The world was falling apart all around me, miraculously still turning, and I just stood there! Finally I reached for the doorknob, when I realized I still had the snow globe in my hand.
I looked at it longingly, with affection, and it came to me. A slightly crazy idea. Not the kind where it's life or death, but the fact that it was a spur of the moment decision, it felt totally crazy. I placed the snow globe on the mantel above the fireplace, where the glass caught the sun just right and the jolly Santa shone a brilliant red.
Allow me this simple pleasure, I asked God in silence. Let the neighbors gawk and smirk all they want. Let the kids think their father's going senile, thinking it's December and not August. I didn't care. I just watched the little flakes twinkle through out the water-filled dome.
I displayed it proudly, knowing that good will, kindness and love were never out of season. So I picked myself up out of my gloomy state, got inside the car, and slid into the driver's seat. "Alright, let's go!" I said cheerfully, and everyone looked surprised.
"Dad, is everything … okay?" asked Cody, from behind. But no answer was necessary. I just smiled, and looked across at Beth without a care in the world.
And since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
First Published in Dual Coast Magazine Issue #3
NOTE: I've written a few short stories, but this one is special to me. It was well received by my family, and I was so excited to discover it was accepted by a magazine. It was my first non-poem to be published.
Copyright © Timothy Hicks | Year Posted 2016