Waiting For The Snow

Lott watches the noon rise; blinding white reflections in the broken windows. Out across the bay she can see shadows playing among the footprints in the brittle salt. The bay is empty now, the sea gone, leaving behind only bleached memories. Small children sit in the barred shadows of a whale’s ribcage. They are waiting for the snow.

She turns away from the window and catches her reflection in a shard of mirror still left hanging in its frame. There are red welts on her arms and neck which she scratches at, knowing they will only get worse. Lott has tried to keep out of the snow, but with most of the buildings destroyed, decent shelter is hard to come by. The children are the worst; they stay out all day, where the sun cracks their skin. At first they played in the snow, unaware. Lott would call to them, she would scream at them, begging them to come in. She had watched in helpless horror as some of them caught ashen snowflakes on their tongues. In the morning she carried a young girl’s body across the bay, too far away for the children to wander across her. The earth was too hard to bury her.

They are not Lott’s children but she does the best she can. At night they tell her they miss their mothers, so she sings to them – it is all she can do. She feeds them the best she can, gouging open cans and letting them lick cold beans or peach syrup from their fingers. They drank the last of the soup this morning.

Outside, she stands on the crumbling steps of the old library watching the children draw in the dust. The sky is yellow and grey, low and heavy; she feels she could reach up and touch it. And then the snow falls, paper fine. The children look over to her, watching for her permission to play. They are not her children, there is nothing more she can do for them, and so she smiles and nods. They run to her and dance round her in circles. She dances with them and they sing a rhyme their mother’s sang: “Oh let it snow tomorrow, I hope it’s very deep. Just let it snow and snow and snow, while we are fast asleep.”