by Emily Newsome
He sat alone at the small kitchen table, looking out into the backyard. Through the glass doors, the barren trees stood tall and still as snow fell violently from the sky, coating their branches with white.
He watched the snowflakes with his eyes. Each one disappeared into the soft blanket covering the ground, any trace of ever existing, gone. The longer he sat there, the more he wished he could stop existing, like the snowflakes. He longed for the simplicity they had, diving down from the sky, as fast as they could, to simply melt into whatever they landed.
The muffled sound of an alarm clock upstairs snapped this dark silhouette of a man, back to the present. He waited for the soft creek of the floorboards, as his wife made her way down to the kitchen.
“Good morning,” she said.
He forced himself to reply. “Good morning.”
“Were you watching the snow? It’s so beautiful.” When he remained quiet, she asked, “why did you get up so early?”
She set the coffee pot down and walked over to where he sat. She gently pulled his face towards hers, forcing him to meet her gaze. The reflection of the white snow from outside made her blue eyes appear pale. He felt the warmth of her gentle fingers as they caressed his cheek, the rough stubble along his jawline tugging against her smooth skin.
“Don’t forget, we have your sister’s baby shower today,” she said.
After breakfast, they made their way upstairs to get dressed. He went out to warm the car, and a little later she followed. They drove down the highway, and she was curled up in the passenger seat, the heater cranked as high as it could go. The sound of air roared in his ears. One of her favorite audiobooks played above the noisy vents and as she sat listening, he tried his best to find the silence beneath it all. To hear the quiet-calm underneath the noise.
As if sensing his frustration, she turned toward him and lowered the volume.
“If you don’t feel up to going, we can turn around and say the roads were too bad.”
He felt his vision blurring at the edges, a cool sensation reaching the back of his eyes.
“You don’t need to pretend with me,'' she said. “I love you.”
Those words held so much power over him. He hated it. He would never manage to be alone, contempt, when someone like her, always said things like that to someone like him. His chest felt like it could explode, his shaking fingers filled with tension. He calmly pulled the car off to the side of the road along the bridge.
“Look at me,” she was saying, “just look at me.”
He tried to, but all he saw was the frozen river beyond her. All he could see was the snowflakes driving themselves down, down, down.
The world shifted into slow motion, as he unbuckled his seat belt, opened the car door and stepped out onto the bridge. Cars flew by, swerving around his open door, honking their horns. The bitter air watered his eyes. It was so cold it burned his lungs. He made his way around the front of the car, to the railing of the bridge. He looked back, expecting to see his wife running after him. All he saw, though, was an empty passenger seat. It had been empty for a long time, he reminded himself.
He swung one leg over the rail and began climbing over the side of the bridge. The cement scraped against his hands. The only sound, his uneven breaths. As he fell, and the river moved closer and closer, he thought, “just like a snowflake.”