I don’t realize it for awhile; I just drive. My beams are on low, and I hardly notice the small specks that dance through the light and beyond my windshield. When there are no cars—for, unlike the other late nights, the road is not deserted—I flick my brights on.
There is white.
Comets of snowflakes that fly fast fast fast toward me and then pass, pass me, pass my windshield. They fly out of the darkness, heavenly speeding and giving me the sensation that I am a part of a screensaver, an old default in which I sit, stationary and shrouded in darkness, while bursts of white heat soar in and out of my peripheral vision.
I think of the shivering girls I saw just twenty minutes earlier, the college students at the corner bus stop. Had their knightly, oversized-carriage rescued them from the eighteen-degree weather? By the time I reach my apartment, would the icy crystals be collecting beneath their three-inch heels and clinging to their too-short skirts?
I keep driving, inching forward, propelling myself and my mechanical horse ten more miles. Each vehicle I encounter is clouded with a golden veil of headlights and snowflakes.
I slide ever so gently off the highway and into Boone, my tires slipping an inch or two. I coast down the road, gliding. There is a buzz about the streetlights, a soft hum like the insects that swarm stadium lights at Friday-night football games. I stare at the cloud, admire its fuzz as I approach it. Snow is gently falling, falling, floating, falling, then sparkling, shiny and sparkling and glittering and I’m coming closer and closer and closer to the lightpracticallythere now I am and they are sparkling not alive shiny and...gone.
Onto my hood. Over my roof. Suffocating against my windows, they’re gone.
Another streetlight. Another stare-down. Floating, falling, sparkling, shiny, gone. The pattern repeats a block later, then two blocks after that, then another, and another … dozens of streetlights and gentle, delicate crystals.
My tires grind for traction as I turn onto 6th, its icy coating untouched. I see that, as usual, my neighbor’s light is on. It burns thickly, and I know that the orange of their lamps will be reflect through their window and ignite my room. I park my car in the narrow garage and prepare to enter the frigid air.
I breathe sharply when I step into the cold, the chilled air filing my lungs. Despite the wintry atmosphere, it is quiet, peaceful. The snow muffles my footsteps, and I leave footprints upon the aged bricks.
I am alone and outside, but not scared. Not scared like I have been the last two nights, when I inch past the garage and the side of the house, peering over my shoulder for anyone, anything. There is no howling wind on this night, only swirling flakes that blanket homes and streets and train tracks.
The steps groan and creek and heave as I crawl and creep upstairs to my little efficiency, my little place. A turn of the key, a turn of the handle, and I’m in. It’s warm. Warm, but reeking of the stiff new shower liner I hung up just before leaving.
I have just completed my first two weeks of work. I am unsure of what to think at this point, unsure of how I should feel or what I should be doing. I am lost and unprepared, confused and undisciplined in when I should eat, sleep, and speak to another human being. So, instead, I write. I turn on my computer and type, think and compose sentences and phrases and words that make me remember the snow, force me to remember my late-night drives home and the racing thoughts I have during them.
When I struggle, I lean over the window seat and peek between the blinds. I cup my hands to the glass and peer outside, stare at the white, the fragile, thin layer of white. It’s still snowing. Still falling, still gently falling, falling, floating.