It’s so cold. And white. As far as the eye can see, which isn’t far. My fingers and toes feel like they’ve seceded from the United Appendages of Tom. Beneath my thermal headgear, I’m sure my lips and eyelids have turned a lovely cyan – the color you might find on an Ice Queen. Or Japanese Anime. Or a Japanese Anime Ice Queen. Of course, I can’t prove that at the moment, it’s more of a gut feeling. Hm, guts. Now I can’t stop imagining Luke and Han on Hoth. Terrific, the weather forecast this morning was bleak and now so is my outlook.
Take some time. Go to the cabin, my married friends said, The Rockies in December are so beautiful, you can clear your head and forget about Mary Ellen. Great advice from happy, loving couples. Yeah, that’s sarcasm. My single friends focused more on the cabin’s jacuzzi, copious amounts of liquor, and wayward snow bunnies. No one gets me. I don’t want to forget about Mary Ellen and I don’t want a drunken, anonymous hook-up. I want my life back from a month ago. There are so many decisions I would change. New permutations chase new outcomes through my head in frustrating circles until a primal scream is my only recourse.
“Help!” I bellow into the whiteness.
That takes my breath away. Snow falls and hits my face like an impish child lobbing a tightly-packed ball. Shit. I don’t have much time left. It’s so cold. Calm down, you’re making the situation worse, I remind myself. I close my eyes and focus on the picture frame on the cabin’s mantle. The frame is new, but the picture isn’t – our honeymoon in Costa Rica.
Mary Ellen, you’re so beautiful in your windblown, linen dress. You didn’t mind that you had to stand in front of me because I ruined my only dress pants and had to wear floral swim trunks with my tux shirt. My arms wrapped around you like a thief absconding with a priceless jewel. Your smile said, you’re a hopeless, hapless fool, but you’re mine and I couldn’t love you more for it. After paying the photographer and heading back to the hotel room, you kissed me the moment the door clicked into place. Your lips covered my face. To this day I still remember that kiss. I still feel it right now, but it’s different somehow.
I open my eyes to a furry behemoth licking my face and struggle to catch my breath without a dog’s tongue on my lips. Turning my head, I see I’m no longer covered in snow. The St. Bernard paws at the snow around my shoulders and I now have leverage to pull my arm free. Removing the snow from my other arm, I reach for the dog’s harness, and she frees me from my former snowy prison. Burying my face in her fur, I thank her for the rescue. My hands find her collar and I locate my rescuer’s name tag which reads Elise.