David: "I worry about the weight on the roof."
Anne: "Imagination pulled beyond memory, only able to accept, not to encompass."
David: "Everything has a breaking point."
Anne: "What is it that makes us why?"
David: "That threshold comes with an awkward price."
On a city block, lined with single family homes, built in the 1940's.
They had turned their sofa away from the T.V. and sat in front of the window, watching furious snow being blown almost vertical, then swirling in winds and drifts. The room was a spare, serviceable living room with, other than the sofa and T.V., two black, wooden chairs with arms and a book shelf. Nothing else. Not even a rug
Neither boredom nor wonder nor fascination. A little like blankness; like barrenness, perhaps; a little like empty; like nothing; like the final, furious whiff of determination.
They needed to get the snowshoes stored in the rafters of the detached garage.
Anne tied a long rope to her back door handle and the other end to her waist, so that she wouldn't lose her way, and walked into the fury of white in what she hoped was the right direction. Through the waist-deep snow, she struggled for every step. Even though her face was wrapped in a scarf, the sharp snow particles managed to prick her there. Finally, more from feeling than from sight, she found herself at the door.
After flinging it up, and stepping down and in, she was safe from the howling. Her ears and face burned. In the wind the snow felt more like shards of glass than snow flakes.
Staring out into the storm, she could make out, just barely, a drift that curved down from her roof and almost made contact with the drift coming up from the driveway. She remembered storms from her childhood — deep drifts across a driveway that she had to shovel; roads slickened by ice, and trees bent low, branches sometimes snapping; sometimes, even, when the heat was lost, the pipes bursting and flooding basements with cold water. It was all true, but were her memories stemming from the impressionable eyes of a child?
She reflected that the storm defined them, almost entirely, for now.
Memory — maybe less connected to the past than we would like to believe. Maybe fluidly gathered in the present, offering us a comfort in a present it created. No repossession.
She felt as if she watched the storm with an utterly different 'self'.
The snowshoes were surprisingly accessible in the rafters even though they hadn't used them for years. She took off her gloves and tested the leather ligaments by hooking her index finger underneath them and pulling upward until the crease behind her knuckle turned white under the pressure. They seemed solid. What would she have done if they were not?
She put them on and, holding on to the rope, began making her way back to her door. As she was stepping out of the garage and up onto the feet of accumulated snow, she smashed her head into the open garage door, stumbled back into the garage, and fell on the concrete. She bruised a knee and an elbow, and strained a shoulder, but all the injuries were minor.
She made it out the second try. In the little time she had been gone a small drift accumulated before the outside, screen door, and she had to kick it out of the way to get in.
Her head throbbed from slamming it into the garage door.
She was not happy. But she was not unhappy, either.
David might have been scared, or maybe just worried. They grew incommunicable during storms. Perhaps crisis caused each to withdraw, like turtles.
They had food. His biggest worry was the heat and electricity. But even that wasn't too bad. He could drain the pipes, and the wood burning stove in the basement, after getting really fired up, would keep them warm.
Out the window they saw the vicious churning of the white out. She simply stared.
Like yoghurt being churned; like a pounding, and whistling fog; like deranged confetti; like rain forgetting to hit the ground; like a bevy of helicopter leaves blown vertically out of a sea of maples in the spring gusts. A little like all of these. But what was it, exactly? Could it be just wind and snow and cold, so cold?
The first night of the storm they slept in the second floor master bedroom. Anne awoke to a horrendous screeching, and the house seemed to sway. She felt something falling onto her face — was it snow or plaster? Then it cracked again. David got up to turn the light on. Rafters, plywood, and even some shingles poked beneath the ceiling. Then the lights blinked out and they could see nothing.
There was another loud screech.
They ran downstairs.
David turned off the main electrical breaker and the main water feed. The storm had not let up. They considered whether or not it would be a good idea for one of them to venture out on the snowshoes.
Anne: "All real thinking begins in crisis, and moves to contemplation."
David: "A decision is incumbent, now."
She asked: "The pain, the dislocation, leading to reflection and contemplation, a crescendo, no? Almost musical, isn't it?"
David asked: "The present insists on an action. What is it?"
She: "When the angles are sharp, character is defined."
The companion: "A house is nothing but the space created by a number of fragile angles."
The next night they slept in the downstairs bedroom, and it happened again: a loud screech, a crack, the walls seemed to shake, and either snow or plaster fell on her.
She screamed. Her companion leapt up and grabbed a flashlight, shone it on her, and screamed too. A cracked 2x4 from the wall was aiming a jagged point directly at her chest as she lay on her side. She slowly got out of bed. Her companion grabbed the mattress and dragged it across the floor. She went first with the flashlight. As they moved into the basement, the mattress jolted with each step.
They lit the big stove. It was the type you could cook on.
David: "We could boil the squash for our vegetables."
Anne: "Inaccessibility plays a roll in claustrophobia."
David: "Pots would be good as well."
Anne: "We are more familiar with the chemistry of cooking, than the chemistry of our homes and even our bodies."
After eating they sat in the comfortable basement. They had a rug down there, and some old furniture: a sofa and two wooden chairs. The walls were concrete block: unfinished. It was lit only by the glow of the stove and some candles.
They spent the rest of the night there. The next day the storm continued. They were cautious about venturing even onto the first floor because they knew that there was more and more snow weighing down the second floor at all times. They spent the day playing competitive solitaire by candlelight and eating when they were hungry.
Late in the day they heard a buzzing, then it got louder and became a rumble. Two men walked into the basement wearing blaze orange snowmobile suits.
David: "Is the storm over?"
One of the men: "No."
David: "Please, tell me you will get us out."
The other man: "Only if you agree to our demands. And if you don't, we'll frame it as suicide." He pulled out a Bowie knife from somewhere in his snowmobile suit.
The other man: "Yeah. No shit."
Anne: "Who are you?"
The other man: "The angels."
The Angels helped themselves to squash, beets, and beans and gave the others none. Both ate using a Bowie knife.
Anne: "What do you want from us?"
Angel one: "Sustenance."
Anne: "But why us?"
Angel two: "But why not you?" He laughed. "You seem to have a lot of hang ups."
David: "No more than the average person. In fact, I think she is above average in that regard. She has real spiritual stamina."
Angel two (to the other angel): "What the hell does this 'real spiritual stammer' mean?"
David: "'Stamina', not 'stammer'."
Angel one: "Damn if I care."
Anne: "That's all you want? Sustenance?"
An angel: "Well, I suppose I could also use a little 'real spiritual stamina'. Think you could help us out with that?" Anne and David sat on the coach with their arms around each other. David's long face looked more ashen than usual, and his long legs were listless, with the outside part of the right foot making contact with the floor, as if he did not have energy to turn it. Anne, her long, thick hair pulled back in a loose and unruly pony tail, stared straight ahead, her brown eyes wide and nervous.
When stealing off to a corner to get more wood for the stove, Anne and David agreed that they would take shifts staying awake during the night. When both of the angels were asleep, they would take their knives kill them. Then they could take their keys, steal the snowmobile, and go for salvation.
Unaware of how ridiculously movie their idea was, they tried it. Only to find that one or the other of the angels were also on watch all night. But they didn't fake it. While on watch, they sat bolt up right.