By Bobbi Bowden
The warmth of the sun on my back penetrates my soul. People around me are laughing and carefree, buzzing with energy and life. I smile. No one seems to notice me. I’m here, but not really. Just observing. I think I’m an angel, protecting.
I sense I’ve lost time now, and day has given way to night. The sun has retreated, taking with it the warmth, the comfort. The air quickens. I’m now acutely aware of the bitter chill that consumes me. Everyone is gone. My eyes focus just enough to make out the silhouette of a figure—a woman. A spark of vague recognition. I don’t want to move closer. I don’t want to know. But something urges me forward, each step bringing a drastic drop in temperature. Now, it is snowing.
I’m compelled to move closer, just close enough to find that she’s younger than before, yet still familiar. She’s all alone. I strain to see through the blanket of white between us. I stop. In another world, this is where I would be gripped with a sense of dread.
She’s tiny now, younger still—so vulnerable. Where’s her mother? I should help her, but my legs won’t take me. She falls, and the snow begins to mount around her. Her desperate wails now pierce my ears, my thoughts. I should call out to her. I should go to her—collect and comfort her. But I don’t. Her ivory skin is the same as the coffin of snow that has entombed her. Her body stills. Her final cry is a minor chord that hangs for a moment, before being swallowed up by the greedy night. Still, I do nothing, only witness.
More time lost. I will my body to move, to finally go to her, if only to confirm. I drop my gaze. I know her. I know her because she is me. Buried, save for dead eyes staring up at me, through me, she asks why. I whisper, “There is no answer that will satisfy you, my old friend, but I do promise to sit here with you until you feel peace.”
So, we stay together as one, through the lonely night, until the girl does indeed feel peace. It is morning once again. The sun returns. The girl is gone. And I know that I am no angel.
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Bobbi is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, where she currently resides with her life partner (a screenwriter), her two teen daughters, and two neurotic dogs. She has worked as a real estate broker, legal assistant, and school literacy coach. Bobbi is a well-traveled introvert who craves introspection above all things, whether through meditation, walks in nature, reading, journaling, or deep connection with her small, trusted circle. Her work appeared in the recent edition of Shorts Magazine.