Wintergreen

I stroll along the cold pavement and breathe the chilled December air. There is snow, large delicate bunches of flakes, falling slowly from the grey sky, but I know it will not stay. The grass is green and obstinate again this year; no warm blanket of white will cover the ground and bury the memories of winters past.

My long coat flaps in the light gust of breeze as I round the corner. It is not frigid, only cold, only lifeless like the quiet street before me in this tiny neighborhood down by the water. I try admire the beautiful homes in their stolid quiet but my appreciation is tinged with disgust; they’re all the same, formulaic, cookie-cutter, McMansions.

I come to the spot and slow. I take in a deep breath of the winter, then let it out slowly and watch the steam of my exhale in the stillness. A puff of smoke from the last living dragon. The final blast of steam escaping a dying locomotive. The last of my life escaping from me in cloud of vapor.

This was the spot. The ground will never be the same again, never be flat, never be even, never be unmarred, no matter what a landscaper or psychiatrist does.

I see us leaving the party late that night, so many years ago, laughing, flirting, smiling in the cool December air and warm embrace of alcohol. Then from nowhere, the sound of the engine, too loud and too high. The SUV of the drunk driver, full of his drunken college friends, plowing into her and pinning her against the stone wall of the yard. Her screaming. Me screaming. Sirens. Her last words as her eyes stared from her tear-soaked face into mine, and her bloody hand clenched my fingers tight one final time: I love you.

I take a deep breath, and begin to walk again. Another year and I know the snow will not stay. Another winter without her embrace, only the warm one that slowed me that fateful night. Only my cold bed and her calling in my dreams await me.

I know no matter how much snow falls, I will be forever stuck in this cold world, the cold empty world of wintergreen.

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