NOTE: This is an on-going story (in ten parts) entitled "The Blizzard Coat." To become more familiar with this entry, be sure to read back posts that entail earlier "parts."
The doorbell rang three times before Annalie snapped out of it. She had gotten lost in a memory again, staring at Eddie's snow boots in the hall closet. "Are you ready to go?" Peter asked when Annalie opened the door; she silently cursed how bright the sun was this winter day. Beyond him, she saw Joy and her mother in the car, nervously eyeing the house. No doubt they were talking about what a tragedy this all was; words Annalie didn't want to hear.
With a curt nod, Annalie picked Mason up from the play pen and followed Peter out the door. A snarl crossed Annalie's angry lips when she walked outside and felt the unusually warm temperature. The fifty-five degree weather taunted her like the school bully; the wind didn't have a fierce bite like it should.
Mason cried from the car seat between Annalie and her mother. He was too warm. His cries turned his face red and he was sweating beneath his onesie. More than once Annalie's mother checked if it was a fever, but no. Poor Mason was feeling the absence of snow... his first snow. And, of course, his father. The father he would never know. Annalie let Mason cry the tears that she couldn't.
Clutching her black wool skirt until her knuckles turned white, Annalie stared at the bare land as they traveled down the bumpy gravel roads on the edge of town. Eddie wanted this small house in the country. He was a country boy. Eddie made life this far from town bearable, even magical, to Annalie. She thought back to Eddie's smile; the one he bore cutting the lawn and cleaning the gutters; the jubilant smile he displayed when Annalie agreed to purchasing that house. Memories of Eddie were easy to get lost inside.
The funeral home was warm and dark. There was a discreet festive wreath hung over the stone fireplace where Eddie's father sat, hunched over a hankerchief. Everyone dressed in black. The tears supplied were almost overwhelming. The people who loved Edwin T. Harrison and Jack Harris Lovitt took over the entire funeral home.
"Would you like me to come with you?" Joy asked, oozing with the concern of an older sibling. She placed a hand on Annalie's shoulder and looked too deeply into her eyes.
Shaking her head, Annalie handed Mason to her; he had quieted into a fitful sleep, his red cheeks glistened in tears as he moaned. She walked slowly down the aisle of people who watched her, concerned. She would see Eddie again in twenty steps.
Ten years. They would never make it to their tenth wedding anniversary. It would have been their ninth anniversary in a week. Annalie thought back to her wedding day--how handsome and proud Eddie looked. They had both dressed in white, to match the snow-covered view outdoors, though Annalie's dress had a hint of wintry blue that twinkled in the light. She looked at herself in the full length mirror, putting on her silver snowflake earrings that she borrowed from her mother and the pearls that embellished the back of her dress looked like winter pennies falling down her back.
A knock at the door distracted her from her reflection. "It's him!" Jane said, her eyes wide with concern. "You can't see him before the wedding, it's bad luck!"
Barefoot--those uncomfortable shoes were banished to a corner until the ceremony began--Annalie opened the door a few inches but kept out of sight. She could hear the tapping of the pearls on the wooden door as she put her back to it.
"Annalie?" Eddie's voice made her smile.
"Yes?" She asked, suddenly impatient and hoped that the ceremony would start sooner. She couldn't wait for Eddie to scoop her up in his arms.
"Just making sure," he replied with relief.
"That I didn't run?" she asked with a hint of humor.
"That you didn't get distracted from the snow." He laughed. "I saw it begin to snow from my room and just imagined you running outside, in your dress, and falling into the snow to make an angel."
"You just didn't want to be left out of the fun," she teased, sneaking a glance at the snow outside her window; her best friend had made an appearance on her big day.
"You know it," he said. Annalie could just picture his smile. A deep breath rushed out of his mouth before he asked, "You ready?"
Annalie glanced at her sisters who tried not to look like they were eavesdropping from the corner of the room. "I'll make you a deal," she said.
Eddie answered tentatively, "Shoot."
"We say our 'I dos' real quick," Annalie proposed, "and then we run outside to catch some pennies."
"Am I allowed to start a snowball fight?" Eddie asked without skipping a beat.
Annalie laughed; love for Eddie filled her at that moment. "What else would we throw at our wedding? Rice?" she joked.
"I love you," he said through the door.
Annalie's placed her hand on the door and said, "I love you too."
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