The snow’s coming down by the foot. Inch after inch it grows, a big white sea swallowing up the landscape around us. Poppa told us not to fret. Worse winters had come and gone.
Stay inside. Be calm. Wait it out.
Momma sits curled up under a dozen or so quilts, most of ‘em she made herself. That’s how Momma kept the time. Knitting and quilting for hours. Blankets, hats, scarves, mittens. The needles only stopped when Momma’d sleep or eat or…do her business.
Poppa stokes the fire, frowning at the state of the wood pile.
I tense up. That familiar feeling in my guts. God knows I couldn’t hold it anymore. That oatmeal momma made this morning and the jerky we’d had for lunch was coming out, ready or not.
Getting up off the chair, I get cockeyed looks from both of ‘em.
Poppa wrinkles his brow. “Where you going?”
He nods. “Bundle up.”
Got on more layers than an onion. Head to toe in thick furs and hides, the bounty of frontier life. Momma’s scarves are wrapped tight, one for my neck, the other for my nose and cheeks. The wind whips the walls and doors, hopping mad at the house for daring to stand in the storm.
Poppa and Momma are both bundled up, ready for the door to be opened for just a second. He stands ready to close it shut as soon as I’m out.
I grasp the knob and pull.
The wind hits me like a bullet. Sharp ice ravages the exposed bit of skin on my face and slams into my eyes like a locomotive. The wind howls at the top of its lungs, deafening me to everything else. I take two steps into the cold darkness, and the light from Poppa’s fire disappears.
Each step is a mile. Up and down through the pearly, thick snow. Damn near up to my knees and still coming down. God’s righteous wrath for a fallen world.
I trudge. Dozens of times over and over.
Up and down.
Up and down.
My breathing goes soggy. Slurping cold wind through wet wool, in and out.
In and out.
In the white torrent, I spot her. Barely.
She stands near the old oak tree, reliable and sturdy as the day Poppa laid her down with brick and mortar. I tramp through, each step taking me closer to those four sacred walls and roof.
She stands in defiance of the storm. ‘Cause Poppa made her outta brick.
I’m covered in cold sweat by the time I reach the door. The wind’s at my back now, its frosty hand pushing against the door. With both mitts, I yank it open.
I step inside her. But it’s not over. Not yet.
Leaning against the wind, I plant a shoulder into her wooden door and grab the handle. The frigid air screams with each step to her door frame, only tapering off when the door clicks into place.
Inside, it’s dark and cold. Damn near as bad as the outside, save the wind. I drop my furs and trousers. Carefully, I undo the buttons of my union suit’s crap flap.
Another twist and push through my innards. Gotta act fast.
I plant both cheeks on the wood rim and it’s colder than a witch’s tit. The cold sinks its fangs into my posterior like a hound to a rabbit. Takes every bit of grit, umbrage, and everything else god gave me to stay there. Inside her.
Til my business is finished.