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."
Annalie hadn't slept all night and neither had Mason. Annalie was about to lose it. She needed a break; she needed Eddie.
Had it been a week already, since she had to say good bye? Shadows seemed like punching bags under her eyes as she rocked Mason in that old wooden rocking chair. A zombie, she stared out the window, almost immune to Mason's shrieks. Dawn was growing, shedding light onto a snowless world. The colors outside were too bright. The grass was too green, the sky was too blue, the plants were too vibrant. Winter needed to come--snow needed to fall. The white blanket would tuck away the colors, the grey sky would reflect her woes. Everything just needed to be muted, to quiet down for a few peaceful moments.
Staring into hopelessness, Annalie watched the sun rise, chasing the long shadows across the field. It was another too warm, too sunny, January day in northern Minnesota.
The days blurred together. She knew she needed to take care of bills, her late husband's affairs, and figure out what to do with Mason when she went back to work. Could she afford to keep the house? But all she could do was pace the hallway with Mason leaving behind a trail of tears.
It was late in the evening when Annalie placed Mason in his bassinet, fists flailing. She needed a break. With heavy eyelids, she sunk down beside him in the overstuffed chair that Eddie liked to read in. She'd often find him in the lamplight with his glasses--that he didn't like to wear in public--reading Arthur Conan Doyle, or Agatha Christie, or Herman Melville. He enjoyed his job as an English teacher at the high school and her mind floated to another memory of Eddie.
"Are you coming back to bed?" Annalie asked. She waddled down the stairs and held her pregnant belly. Their first-born son was due soon. The heat of August was making Annalie's patience thin, no matter how pleasant life was being. Now, though, in the coolness of night, she was a bit more peaceful.
She sat on the arm of the chair and draped her arm over the back. Eddie leaned his head against her stomach and the baby went wild. Eddie sighed in contentment. Words were lost in this moment; a moment when they realized their family was now three.
A refreshingly cool breeze raced through the screen in the window. "If I could get you anything right now, what would it be?" Eddie asked. Annalie, for some reason, never had weird cravings during her pregnancy and it was one thing Eddie looked forward to. He wanted to go out in the middle of the night for pickled herring and a can of pumpkin pie filling; he was eager to help in that way.
Annalie sighed with a smile. Her hand played with Eddie's dark brown hair. "Snow," she said longingly. Wisps of her hair clung to the sweat on her forehead. Being so heavily pregnant in the summer was nearly unbearable for Bailor women. She longed to trudge through the crunching snow in a pair of boots, to hang her wet gloves and scarf on the radiator to dry, and watch the flakes float down from the sky from beside the fireplace.
Unexpectedly, Eddie jumped from his chair. "Coming right up!" he said and ran to the kitchen. Annalie was curious but sunk into the chair and decided it wasn't worth the effort to climb out of it just yet. It was warm from Eddie's body heat, but she didn't care.
Annalie nearly fell asleep in the cool breeze, despite the noise Eddie was making in the kitchen. When Eddie reappeared, he held a bowl out to her full of snow. A smile broke across Annalie's face--a rare occurrence this late in the sweltering summer season. "You made me snow?" she asked, happily taking the chilly bowl from his hands.
"I'd make you a blizzard if I could, but I hope you'll settle a bowl of crushed ice for now," he said, kissing her forehead.
The memory made Annalie sniffle. She had dozed off and found herself draped over the same chair. The world felt different, almost comfortingly. Mason's cries had ceased! Sitting up, she stretched a kink out of her neck, careful not to make a sound. She wanted to hold onto this peaceful silence for as long as she could. It was like the silence that falls just after a hearty snow, where the world sighs in its beauty.
Annalie glanced out the window, ready to sigh at the sight of the lack of snow. A smile cracked across her face at the sight of large winter pennies falling against the velvet sky. It climbed up the walls, halfway to the window pane.
A blizzard! Tears fell down Annalie's cheek with a mixture of emotions and the wind howled along with her cries. A coat draped itself around the house--just how Eddie draped his jacket around Annalie when she refused to wear a coat in the fall--she wanted to feel the cold seep into her pores and erase the summer heat.
All night the snow fell, each flake a supportive hand on her shoulder. When the sun finally did rise, on what would have been Annalie and Eddie's ninth wedding anniversary, the snow reached the windows and it still fell, but lightly now.
Under a blanket in the threadbare chair, beside her sleeping son, Annalie slept soundly, conjuring memories and visits from Eddie in her sleep. Serenity finally seemed to settle upon that house. She was snowed in. Safe. A glimmer of hope sparkled on the untouched cover of purity that protected the house. Annalie was no longer alone.
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