Winter Song

Where the road bent away the sidewalk was bright and cold, and where the sun reflected back from the snow the road trapped noon shadows cast by winter’s oaks. Parked cars lined one side of the road. The road curved away and up out of sight where it forked between the old brick houses with roofs made bright from the sun on the snow. Bare tree limbs glistened and shed freezing clear droplets of moisture onto the cars lined up below. Plumes of white exhaust escaped a car coming to life down the road. It was cold and bright from the snow.

He waited, leaning against the hard metal cross-bar of the bike rack with his feet planted in a crust of old snow. The bike rack sat in the shadow of the cafe he had been inside a few minutes before, it was warm inside the cafe. The snow in the shadow had not melted. It felt good leaning against the round of the cross-bar. It felt good where the hard metal bar hit his back just below the waist. It was cold in the shadow and he wasn’t wearing a jacket, but it was not so bright and he could see without shading his eyes. He could hear droplets of water striking the cars lined up below the oaks.

Three people approached passing through the shadow and disturbing the snow on the sidewalk and heading for the entrance of the cafe. He could hear them stomp free the snow that had collected on their boots. Bells jingled releasing the aroma of wood-fired bread, onion, and roasted garlic into the chill of the mid-day air. Notes of conversation cut short by the slap of wood and muffled jingle as the door snapped closed. A second door bounced open and closed at the back of the cafe. Tobacco cut through the warmth of the bread and garlic. It was cold in the shadow.

Another person approached heading down from the road that curved up and away. Wool cap pulled down over her ears, hands jammed into her pockets, keeping to the sun and careful not to slip in the snow. She reached the bike rack without breaking stride and he was no longer resting his back on the cross-bar. She crossed from the sun into the shadow, removed her hands from her pockets and pressing her head against his chest wrapped her arms around his waist. He held her close, hands high on her back and liked the warmth of the top of her head as he rested his cheek on the curve of the wool cap.

I missed your car,” lifting his head, looking down into sharp grey eyes.

It’s down around the road.”

I mean I didn’t see it.”

It’s new, I don’t have Eliot anymore,” eyes pelagic now.

Where is she?”

In a field above the plateau where the mountain goats sometimes come to eat the grasses.”

‘This place was easier to find than I thought,” glancing back over his shoulder.

Together they turned away from their place at the side of the cafe to join the sidewalk and followed the footprints left in the snow. The surface was tricky where melting snow filled the footprints and they were careful to the place where they knocked the slush from their boots and made the bells ring.

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