Skip to content

" Friends and Partners | 2008 | Of Tinsel and Eggnog "

12.19.08 2:29 a.m.

Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.  

-Alice Mackenzie Swaim



"Come get me," I say into the phone, almost in lieu of a greeting.

"All right," Melanie replies, her voice a mix of relieved panic, abject worry, and resolution. "Where are you?"

"Your front door?"

I am not sure she even has time to verbally respond, and certainly not time enough to exit her room and negotiate a flight of stairs, before opening the front door of her dorm to let me in, leading me to believe that she was sitting in the hallway and staring at the door as though it were a tombstone. She clings and kisses me hard, chastising me for trying to bring bags of supplies in before our lips could get properly reacquainted. She acts as though she hasn't seen me for a month or, in advance, tries to make it up to me for the month we are going to spending apart to accommodate her parents' odd insistence upon seeing their only daughter on breaks from school. I don't know until later that she truly assumes I had died in some fiery crash on my way through the rapidly accumulating snow to see her this one last time, or I would have kissed her with more passion and reassurance. I drove at a snail's pace with freezing windshield wipers just for this kiss, I wouldn't let something as untoward as death interfere.

We climb to her room in the almost empty dormitory and she searches through the supplies I have brought to help us make it through the storm. Two days ago, the plan had been that she would drive down to me after making up an economics exam she missed owing to the flu. Last night, she told me to come up and spend the night with her, assuming that I would get snowed out of work (the benefit of working for a publishing company is that they can preemptively give me work to do at home). I hesitated and continued to do so in the morning when she asked me to come up to Bard. So sure she was that I wouldn't come up that she had not bothered going to the store, assuming it would just be more food she didn't wish to cart home when the snow eventually let up.

We'd spent the prior weekend in my apartment, Melanie nearly comatose with the flu after I picked her up in the midst of an ice storm. That was supposed to be our last full weekend together, the weekend of my birthday, and it was snatched from us by illness. I tended to her, acquiring a lower grade version of her illness in the bargain. I wouldn't lose another weekend if I had any say in the matter. I fear driving in snow more than many far more objectively terrifying things I have faced, both because I was raised by a worrywart and because of my accident earlier this year, but my fear could not outdistance my need to see her once more.

We made amazing love, her partially motivated by the thought that I hadn't died. No matter how much we are writers, we can't convince our personal fables that we are not living in a soap opera, that driving thirty miles under the speed limit is no elixir for the snow. We cling to one another as though our forever together had nearly been snatched away.

Soon in Xenology: Christmas, independence.

last watched: The Happiness of the Katakuris
reading: A Brief History of the Dead
listening: Nixon

" Friends and Partners | 2008 | Of Tinsel and Eggnog "

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

eXTReMe Tracker