The metro driver announced he would go no further, pulled to a stop and wished them all a happy holiday. Just like that. Powerless and without recourse, she stepped into the blizzard, eighteen frigid blocks from home. Snowbanks, sidewalks, yards and street merged recklessly and disappeared altogether as she trudged on, balancing precariously in the rutted and iced tire tracks. Blinded by sideways snow, she cursed the weather, the driver, her shallow breath and her waning stamina. Lawrence of Arabia gone Zhivago, Match Girl gone Engine that Could and Miles to go before I sleep. A few years ago, maybe a few minutes ago, a winter trek seemed an invigorating challenge, a magical adventure. Today in her sixties, she thought first of dying for trying, and finally ....... the Theme from Rocky!
There had been talk about not decorating this year. No one will be visiting, no Christmas Tree. No one will be here, why bother? The girl raised her eyebrows. "But you will be here!" she said. "Who is the only person who has been present at every single Christmas of your life? Don't you deserve a Christmas Tree?" She smiles at the memory of the conversation and the strength of that girl, her beautiful, strong, smart daughter. Snowed in, alone, she wanders from room to room, taking quiet pleasure in the lights, the ornaments,the tree.
She met him on her first day of college. He was a tall enough upperclassman. A smart enough fraternity guy. A conservative in hippyland. She typed his papers, ironed his shirts. He watched football. She read books. She didn't know she could dream.
Her eight year old cheeks burned with humiliation as the tiny wooden horse carts revolved on their track carrying her and five chunky toddlers each seatbelted into their own carts in a never ending circle. Her parents, standing nearby, tried to know whether to wave or just not notice while toddler parents gazed, gooed, cheered and snapped pictures for scrapbooks and grandma. She stared down at the fake reins in her hands, the too small seatbelt at her sides, unwilling, unable to meet their kind and troubled eyes. The baby ride continued traveling in agonizingly slow circles. Only child, only parents, only carnival in town.