“Oh, I hate the snow.”
I looked at her. She was sitting in the snow up to her chest. Her legs were completely buried.
“You’ve been playing out here for three hours.”
“That’s a long time,” she said. She tilted her head and looked up at the sky. “Why didn’t the sun move?”
“Oh, it moved.”
I got in the car and backed out of the driveway. She waved from her nest.
My street rarely gets the attention of the town plows. It never gets any salt or sand or whatever else they put on roads. It’s a normal topic of conversation amongst the people who live here. When we meet at the road with our shovels in hand, we always complain how we pay so much in tax and never get any service for it.
But it does keep the street looking rather ideal, in winter. The snow stays white. Everywhere else, the snow soon turns into brownish sludge that gets on everything. Bella may hate the snow, but I hate the slush.
I pictured her while I drove. She was likely still digging around in the snowbank next to the driveway. She usually played out there with Nan, the neighbour’s girl. Nan is a hell of a name for a 5-year-old.
I regretted not taking a picture of her.
Later, when I finally got home, they were already waiting at the table.
“Where was Nan, today?”
“Alice said they all caught cold over there.” Maria put a dish of meatloaf on the table and sat. She put a piece on Bella’s plate.
“I don’t like Nan, anymore.”
“No? Why not?”
“I don’t know,” she muttered. She picked up her fork and poked at the meatloaf.
“You eat,” said Maria as she spooned corn onto the plate.
Later, after they were asleep, I sat on the couch and watched late night talk shows. It’s difficult to sleep at night when you work in the afternoons. It seems pointless to try.
There was a man on television doing a comedy juggling act. The audience was laughing. The man’s face was an odd mix of smiling, teeth gritting, and concentration. I felt myself starting to fall asleep.
“Daddy.” I felt her tug on my shirt. “Daddy.”
“Oh, hi. Why are you up?”
She looked at the floor. “I don’t know.”
I patted her head. She felt a little warm but I felt cold. I picked her up and carried her to her room.
Later, in my own bed, I could see snow falling in the light from the streetlamp. I cursed the curtains being open but lacked the energy to get up and do it.
That night, I dreamed I saw Roy Orbison standing waist deep in the snowbank. Bella sat before him, but facing away. He was playing guitar and singing that crying song.
I woke up before he could finish.