The weatherman, too young to possess authority, announces that snow flurries may be possible as the day progresses. Katia looks outside her window to the snow that has already been falling steadily for hours. She long ago discounted the prognostication of others.
The chatter about the five-day forecast continues as Katia pulls on her hand-knit cap to meet the world. She had made the hat this season, allowing her fingers to relish in the auburn yarn as they weaved it into something new. After she knows her hair is secured under her creation, she gathers her broom from its corner in the supply closet. Brushing snow is what she does when accumulation maxes out at three inches. Left, right, left, right, the easy swinging motion saves her shoulders from the lift and heave. She is proud of her discovery that sweeping is a superior method on such days.
Peter used to shovel the snow while she cooked, demanding high praise for his valiance, but that was before he met Tanya, before he met Kimi, before he met her boot and the door. She likes to remember it that way. Honestly, though, there was sobbing and eventually begging, but he had tired of her stroganoff and guitar picking, two things he said had made him love her.
Before he left, he also said her voice screeched and that she left the stew on for too long. For a long time after his pronouncement, everything had tasted just a little bit burnt.
Eventually, she stopped making stews. They were to his taste, not hers. She is fond of blended soups, not the stark contrast between beef and sauce. She is glad to be rid of so much meat. Rutabagas, turnips, zucchinis, parsnips, and leeks. She enjoys the sound of the words on her tongue even before she manifests each vegetable into something to be savored.
Bringing her snow boots to her kitchen table, she sits to pull them on — a minor struggle somehow even with her tiny feet. The height of each boot fights against the natural bend of her ankle. Still, she knows how to angle her leg just so and with the right heft on they go. She has grown accustomed to herself.
She unlocks her front door and braces for the cold blast from the outside to hit her face, catching her breath when it does; the briskness rushes from her face to deep within her lungs. She knows what she wants. Paprika on a leek and potato soup sounds like just the thing to make after she clears a path outside from her house to the mailbox and all along her sidewalk.
Abby Manzella is the author of Migrating Fictions: Gender, Race, and Citizenship in U.S. Internal Displacements. She has published with Literary Hub, Electric Lit, the Boston Globe, the Rumpus, and Catapult. You can find her on Twitter @abbymanzella.
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Art Caspar David Friedrich Public Domain