Night Walks – Part II

Night Walks – Part II

Penny Pennell

Once she woke in the middle of the night to the sound of a picture frame sliding down drywall. Discombobulated in shadows that once loomed familiar, she slipped out from his side, where he continued to sleep soundly, and made her way down the hall. Seeing the fractured frame and shards of glass, she contemplated ghosts and gravity. Barefoot, she fetched the broom and dust pan.

Eyelids heavy, she felt stuck in a dream, listening to the scrape and clatter of glass on tile, waiting to hear footsteps behind her. When a piece of glass slid through her skin, it took moments and a deep yawn before she felt it. Before she saw the droplet of blood fall. 

She sucked the blood from her thumb. At the sink, she let cold water run over it and then wrapped it tightly in a paper towel. 

Outside she could hear the rattle and scrape of a snow plow. Yellow lights pulsed from the other side of the curtains. She peered out from the side to see a blanket of white and whirl of snow still falling. From the hall closet, she grabbed her husband’s overcoat, slipped on her boots, and coiled a scarf around her neck.

The cold air made her gasp, made her think of pop songs and snow days, cocoa and burning the tip of her tongue. A shudder and then the memory of making crafts with her mother, watching her use the iron to melt shards of crayon between waxed pages. A kaleidoscope of color and the pungency of wax and no memory of what she was thinking about at six. 

She heard the snow pack under the first step off the porch; inhaled a long breath and felt the first flakes surrender to the heat of her skin. Soon her breath found the rhythm of the wind circling her. Her spine was rigid, the cold air encircling her bare legs under the long coat, coaxing her back inside. But she walked on. 

She walked the length of the driveway to where she thought the sidewalk should be. She thought about where she should be. Who she should be. Why she longed to be lost in the hush of snowfall.

The wind lulled, gathering its might, and for a moment she could hear the hum of streetlamps. When she wrapped the coat that smelled of him, of sandalwood, tightly around her frame, she felt a clump of snow slide down her spine. She kept walking. 

The houses were quiet. No lights. No traffic. No moon to lure her away. Snow too deep to run through. The fire of cold numbing her toes, her skin. Yet, she kept breathing with the wind. In and out. In and out.

On the wind she thought she heard her name. She glanced behind to see him standing on the porch, incredulous at the thought of needing to call her in from outside. She threw her arms up and twirled under the snowfall. He laughed. She smiled at him and started back. 

She wondered what she would remember from the last night sleeping at his side; whether it would be the sound of breaking glass splintering into corners and crevices, or the wind.

Penny Pennell