by Chloe Clark
On the twelfth day of snow in Ames, I tried to remember what it looked like before the whiteness that now blanketed everything. Was the parking lot dark gray? Light? Were the now hulking snowmonsters once really cars?
If I stared into the white long enough, I could pretend to see other colors. Was that a flash of blue? Or was it just another shade of ivory? Or cream? Of eggshell?
We’d heard that the snow would last for days and so stocked our fridges and pantries with the kind of foods that made us happy in the cold: cans of soup, filled with chunks of vegetables in overly salted broth, and hot cocoa mixes that came with the desiccated remains of mini-marshmallows. Everyone in the store joked about how this was going to be the big one. Maybe we’d never dig ourselves out. We laughed, merry with the excitement of safe emergencies.
But, then the snow didn’t stop.
On the fourth day, Tomas paced circles around our living room. He stared out the patio window with such disbelief that I wondered if he was seeing something I wasn’t—yetis creeping through the white or ghosts of ex-lovers having snowball fights without him.
“What if it keeps going forever?” he whispered. I don’t think he spoke to me, more to the snow itself. More plea than question.
On the sixth day, we’d exhausted conversation, board games, and the cocoa mix was gone. I stuck my finger tip into the packets, licked chocolate-y dust from my skin. Tomas watched me from across the room. Had we ever spent so much time in only the company of one another? Maybe, not since the first months of our relationship, where we’d stay in bed for hours, not leaving our apartments, barely wanting to stop touching. Even then, though, we’d call others on the phone, step out for groceries, pay the delivery people who dropped off greasy containers of food that we’d feed each other with our hands.
The phones had been down since day three and the internet since the beginning of day four. Other people lived in our building but some kind of fear kept us from straying into the hallway.
Sometimes, I heard people crying outside. Once a woman screamed so long and loud that it turned into the howl of a wolf.
On the eighth day, we woke curled around each other. Our bodies giving off heat that we desperately craved more of. Tomas grabbed my hips, pulled me into him, and for a while we felt alright, normal. But after, our hearts beat hard in our chests and it sounded like someone marching through deep snow and we were reminded of what was outside the bedroom door.
“Tell me…” I began, but didn’t know how to finish, what I needed to ask of him.
“We’ll be fine,” he said. I’d never have called him a liar before, but his words felt as hollow as chocolate Christmas statues.
On the tenth day, Tomas dressed in layers of sweaters and scarves and a bulky coat his mother had sent him that we’d joked it would never be cold enough to wear.
“Don’t,” I begged.
“I just need to see what’s out there,” he whispered.
I pressed my face to the windows once he’d left. The glass so icy on my skin. He walked out and I watched his coat, bright blue against the white white white, until it disappeared into the blankness.
We’d met at a park. Summer and green and he saw me reading a book, underneath a tree, and said, “you look like you belong on a postcard for this town.”
And I’d look up and the sun had made him glow. And I thought that if I’d been ice, he could have melted me.
Outside, the white went on and on.
On the first day, we climbed into bed and drank cups of hot chocolate. The milky sweetness lingered in our mouths. Tomas smiled at me from over the cover of the book he was reading.
“What?” I asked.
“I like these blizzards,” he said. “I could stay like this forever.”