Many Midnights

I See White

 

When I think of July I see bright sunshine bathing the landscape with its warm embrace. I see full, green trees swaying back and forth in the breeze. I see smooth, golden beaches lazily stretching across shorelines, contrasting perfectly with clear blue water.

When I think of July I picture these scenes in my mind like snapshots from distant and friendly memories.

But lately…all I see is white.

Normally such things do not bother someone like myself. I have always been the type to be able to sift through life’s many changes and address the ones that were worthy of attention, while casting aside others that I deemed not quite as important.

But this I knew required attention. The unsettling feeling I had when this started told me that, but I suppressed it due to common sense.

It all began last Thursday when it started snowing.

Nothing unusual about it snowing, especially here in Minnesota, but it was the middle of July.

 At first, people panicked. No one was ready for snow, and many immediately blamed the weather forecasters for their lack of foresight. Few were prepared to deal with the snow.

The city rushed to get their plow trucks out on the roads, and hardware stores quickly sold out of shovels, scrapers, and rock salt. Traffic was everywhere, and I would bet there were quite a few fender benders as well.

I was at work at the time, knee-deep in paperwork. I took a break to hit the restroom, and was washing my hands when Tackert came in.

“Hey Ryan,” he said with an oily smile. “Did you see what’s going on outside?”

I continued drying my hands. I never liked Tackert. He was the stereotypical brown-noser type, always slithering his way through the personal channels of the company.

“Snowing like crazy. Gotta be three or four inches on the ground already.”

I stopped wiping my hands and looked up at him. “Say again?” My disbelief was matched only by my surprise.

“It’s snowing outside. Coming down like crazy.”

Of the numerous reasons I did not care for Tackert, one was not because he was a practical joker. “Snowing? It’s July!” I cried.

His smile grew even wider. “I know, I know. Word is that the old man is contemplating shutting down for the day.”

The old man he referred to was Mr. Aners, or Mr. Aneurysm as we called him behind his back. He was the uptight, cheapskate, workaholic owner of the company who never shut down early, ever.

This fact alone was cause for concern.

I left the bathroom in a hurry and rushed to my office. Flipping open the blinds I was greeted with…white. Huge flakes of bright snow filled the sky. The ground, or at least what I could see of it, already had several inches on it. I swung a quick glance back at the calendar above my desk as if to confirm what I already knew.

July glared back at me.

July? July22nd? The middle of summer?

I heard the sound of people shuffling down the hallway. They sounded like children on Christmas morning: excited and anxious.

I walked to the doorway and stared at the crowds filtering past my office.

What was the big deal? They acted as if they never saw snow before.

I was tempted to follow them but the realization that it was only snow hit me.

And besides, I still had plenty of work to finish, and I knew I’d be in trouble if it weren’t done in time.

So I shut the door, closed the blinds, and settled back at my desk.

Two hours passed. My back was rather sore but I managed to get caught up on my work.

 Satisfied, I stood up and stretched my back. My thoughts were occupied with a cup of coffee when I remembered the unusual weather outside. I opened the blinds and was shocked at how much more snow had fallen.

 There had to be at least two feet on the ground!

Cars crawled by at a snail’s pace on the road in front of the building, and people were shoveling frantically, trying to unearth their cars in the parking lot. The snow was still coming down heavily, and I needed little other incentive to vacate the building for the day.

In the parking lot, I looked around desperately trying to locate my car. The only reason I found my Pontiac at all was that I was able to ascertain approximately where I had parked it.

I looked at the huge white lump that had been my midnight-blue Grand Prix only hours earlier. A small, sarcastic laugh escaped from me when I remembered that I had just pumped almost $600 into the brakes.

It took me over ten minutes to clear it off enough before I could climb inside and start it up.

Five feet later I gave up when the tires spun helplessly in the white mess of the lot. I was left with my only alternative: walking home. To try to get a tow truck was out of the question; it would be hours before one would get to my call. So, somewhat reluctantly, I began my trek.

The mistake of that decision was made crystal-clear to me by the time I reached the first intersection. The snow was making it difficult to see, much less to walk, and my feet were half frozen and soaking wet by the time I reached my front door.

Now I’ve always fancied myself as something of an outdoorsman, but I had to admit that I was pretty wiped out by the storm. The snow seemed to drain a person’s energy and ability to think clearly.

 I was fairly worried when I got to my house. I couldn’t see past my next-door neighbor’s driveway.

How much more was going to come down? How would people manage to deal with it? Businesses would be closed for days and people would be falling over from heart attacks from trying to shovel their driveways.

And then I stepped into my house and was treated to yet another unwelcome surprise: no power!

So now here I sit, alone, and cold with only several small flickers of light from strategically-placed, mismatched candles and a small flashlight with fading batteries. The snow is up to the handle on the front door, making it impossible to open it.

There is absolutely no way I could go outside …but that’s the last thing I want to do.      

I knew something wasn’t quite right when I let Sammy out; he’s my Golden Retriever. He had to go real bad so I was forced to push open the back door to let him into the backyard. The snow hadn’t reached too high yet by the door so he was able to get a small running start. He backed up, lowered his head a little and sprinted headfirst into the yard. About ten feet out he stopped and began to take care of his business.

It was then that I noticed my boots and coat. They were by the front door

where I had taken them off when I came into the house. They still had fresh snow on them despite the fact that I came in hours before!

Now I know that the furnace was not working, but some of the snow should have melted by then. They looked as if I had just came in from outside.

I also noticed something that made me fully realize my, and everybody else’s, situation: Sammy was pulled into the snow!

I heard him briefly squeal in pain, and then watched in disbelief as the

surrounding snow turned a bright red before turning back to white again. New snow fell then, quickly obliterating any trace of my dog’s whereabouts.

That was four days ago.

The snow is falling harder than ever now, coating everything in sight in a smooth, cold blanket of death. The windows are almost completely blotted out, and I can hear them begin to weaken from the weight of the snow. I estimate I have about another day’s worth of food, but water will be a real problem; the fridge is bare and even the toilets are empty. Soon I’ll be out completely. 

I know that eventually the doors and windows, and perhaps even the roof will give way and the snow will get inside. And I also know that there’s little that I can do to stop it.

There’s no power, water, or gas. The phones stopped working yesterday, and I find myself scraping up what sanity I have left to fill in the remainder of my

life.

If only the phones still worked.

If only I could hear another person's voice.

If only I knew there was somebody else left.

 

If only…