The snow began as he drove her up to his family’s lakehouse the evening before Valentine’s Day. It would be cold, but he wanted to show her the historic town on the opposite shore, walk on the boardwalk along the inlet river, and stand with her at sunset on their stony beach. But by morning, the snow had laid a thick winter comforter over land and water, and was still drifting heavily in the air.
“It will let up,” he said. “Noon, maybe a little after.”
“This makes me feel like a kid again,” she said. “We had mornings like this, no school, just stayed warm in our PJs, reading and watching movies, drinking hot chocolate. We’re not even part of the real world yet, as kids, but we still like to invent separation, like we know what’s coming and that we’ll want to escape it, you know? Days like this let me feel that again, with almost no imagination…it’s here again now. The world outside is changing so much, and we’re safe inside, we can just look out at it, without any consequence of the change.”
“Not until June when you had to make up that day of school.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I’m gonna go bring in more wood.”
While he carried logs in from the woodpile out back and restarted the fire, she made breakfast: pancakes with eggs and bacon, and a full pot of coffee, which she kept on the heater after filling their mugs.
The snow was just as thick in the air at noon as it had been at dawn. Standing at the front window, he could make out the first pilings of the dock, a shadow that extended into nothing. For all they knew, there was no town across the lake, no river, no beach; there was only the blankness of the snow.
She wrapped her arms around him from behind and started pulling him away from the window. “Come back to bed,” she said.
“This isn’t the Valentine’s Day I had in mind. We could have done this at home.”
“But we wouldn’t have,” she said. “There’s too much of us there. This is perfect.”
Matthew Brennan is a novelist, flash-fictionist, translator, and freelance editor based in the Pacific Northwest. Having earned his MFA in fiction from Arizona State University, he remains on the editorial staff of the Hayden’s Ferry Review. Brennan has received several awards and fellowships for his fiction, which has most recently appeared in Ginger Piglet, The Molotov Cocktail, Fiddleblack, and Pure Slush, and is forthcoming from Trigger.