Footprints In The Snow


snowy pathway surrounded by bare tree

The promise of a beautiful day after last night’s blizzard woke me early. I stood inside the glass storm door in the early sunlight, enjoying the view and a cup of coffee.

Yesterday, a gentle snow started falling in the morning and continued as though a baker was sprinkling confectioners’ sugar on a cake throughout the day. Around midnight the precipitation slowed and transformed into large snowflakes. The kind kindergartners cut from paper and their teacher hung on the classroom bulletin board.   

Footprints in the snow told me he had been here during the night. The boot marks were deep, and I imagined it would have taken great effort to reach the doorbell or trudge around the back; where his key no longer fit, but the door might have been left unlocked.

Stopping by was what he called it.

I remembered yanking those boots off and landing on the floor. When I suggested he loosen the laces first to make the task easier, he said, “You look so cute scolding me.” And joined me on the floor. But my looking so cute did not last during a long winter of frequent storms.

This morning the sun reflected on the ice crystals creating a mysterious pattern and I remembered his smell. The music, laughter, and wearing my best dress. The red one with a side zipper. I closed my eyes and recalled his moist lips on my neck.  

 “He’s not marriage material,” said my sister, Shirley.

I thought of Annie Oakley dressed in burlap, holding a rifle in her hand, and wanted to respond, “he’s great in bed,” but didn’t.

She hugged me. “He calls you Laverne. That’s not your name.”

“It’s a joke! You love the Laverne and Shirley show. I’m Laverne because you’re Shirley,” I blurted, too loudly.

“Did you laugh?” she asked.

He and I broke up not long after.

That spring I watched him throw a Frisbee to his dog in Washington Park but kept driving. What would be the point? He named the dog Max III and had explained his pet didn’t know there had been others.

I pulled over after a few blocks to do the math. Our relationship had lasted two years. If the ratio of dog life to human was seven to one, and Max was the third . . . Multiply the denominators, divided by the numerator . . . Well, it was highly probable I was Laverne #8.

I called my sister. She was snowed in too and suggested the footprints may not be his. “Remember phoning 911 because that man down the street pounded on your front door?”

The neighbor had come home drunk; the brick houses with chain-link fences looked the same and he assumed his wife locked him out.. When police asked for identification, he pulled out his license cursing. They walked him home.

Today, the fences were invisible under the snowfall. By noon the crunch of shovels piercing the hardened snow replaced the quiet, as the wind began to blow. I dressed in heavy clothing and inspected the footprints to determine if the outside heels were worn. They weren’t. The snow glare was unbearably bright and I walked to the store wearing sunglasses.

When I returned, the landlord was shoveling the footprints off the front steps. He stopped and called to me. “Hey Laverne,” leaning on his shovel he asked, “How’s what’s his face?”

I smiled, waved, and went into the house. Reminding him my name wasn’t Laverne and what’s his face and I had broken up one more time seemed silly.

I had a bowl of soup, washed the dishes, hung the kitchen towel, and looked around the apartment. The sofa pillows had been plumped and the crochet afghan folded, the way I liked it. There was nothing on the bedroom floor, the way I liked it.

I thought about getting a dog.

Later that evening, the phone rang. When I said, “hello,” the caller hung up.

Outside a full moon highlighted the piles of crisp white snow and the footprints were gone. But my sister’s words lingered.

I picked up the phone, pressed caller ID, and then dial. When he answered I said, “Jason, it’s Laverne.”

. . . just saying

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