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I woke early that morning, the same as I always did. Only this time, as I looked out at the sky from the window of my condo, something was different.
I had lived in Florida my whole life, and hadn’t seen a cloudy sky in decades. That morning as I gazed out my window, the sky was gray and cloudy, and there was snow falling from the sky. I hadn’t seen snow in…..well, about thirty years or so. The last time it snowed, our state made history. Nobody knew how it was possible for it to snow in one of the warmest states around. It was then I knew that it was going to be a different kind of day, a day that I had experienced once before.
My legs, cold, stiff, and taut as ever, did not want to leave my bed. Reluctantly, I pushed myself upward, and put my bare feet on the cold wooden floor. Why on earth, I wondered, was it so cold? Slowly, I pulled a pair of white knee socks over my feet. I then made my way over to the mirror beside my window; I saw the same old and wrinkled face I saw every morning. My hair was white, and my entire face was covered with age spots. There was nothing attractive about me at all. Not that I should have cared, being as old as I was.
The rest of the people around my cul-de-sac were all bundled up for wintertime. After I had put on my old brown sandals, which I had been wearing for thirty years, I walked to my kitchen to turn on the television. I was hoping the news would have something to say about all this unusually melancholy weather.
“Snow, snow, snow,” the newscaster was saying, “I can’t believe this! It’s snowing in Florida in the middle of the summer! It looks as if old Jack Frost has paid us a cheerful visit.” Yeah, I thought, they have no idea either.
On that note, I walked over to my closet, and dug through it to find a hat and a winter coat. What the hell, I thought, is going on today?
I walked down the stairs, and stepped out the front door of the condominium. There was at least three or four inches of snow already.
“Good morning, Mr. Smith,” a local teenager said to me as he walked by. I didn’t even give him a hello, because I absolutely hated kids; even older ones. After that little sojourn, I just continued walking. I was known for being quite contentious around my neighborhood, and I really didn’t care at all. Nothing really mattered to me, and I thought I was content in my life of retirement; even though I solemnly wished I still taught. But, I had learned to hate kids all too much to ever go back. Plus, I was far too old.
As a matter of fact, I had once loved children. I had a few of my own, until I lost them in that tragic accident. After losing both my wife and kids, I never looked at families with kindness again. That was the first time it had snowed.
Finally, I reached my destination: the Senior Center. I am almost embarrassed to admit I used to go to that unkempt place; it was nothing but a bunch of old timers, playing with the teeth they’ve lost. Then, again, look who’s talking. I was once one of them, I suppose.
I walked through the door, only to be greeted by a stupid high school volunteer.
“Hello, Mr. Smith,” she said, “Will you allow me to take your coat?”
“No, I will not,” I barked back at her, “I may be old, but I can certainly take off my own coat.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“Yes. You should be sorry….treating me like I’m a child, instead of a grown man.”
After I said that, I almost felt a little remorse. Not quite, but almost.
Sure enough, as soon as I removed my coat, I decided I wasn’t in the mood to win another bingo game, and I left.
When I stepped outside the door, there was at least five more inches of snow on the ground. Why, I silently wondered, was this happening?
For a good half hour or so, I just kept on walking. The snow stuck to my hair, not making a difference in the whiteness. I didn’t even realize where I was going until I got there. I was at the local cemetery. What had led me there, I did not know yet.
Before I knew it, I was looking at my wife’s tombstone; and beside hers, my three children’s. I was in complete shock as I stood there, perplexed, because I still had no idea how I got there.
By that time, the snow was twice as bad, and there I was, with my tan shorts and knee socks. My coat and hat weren’t really doing much for me, either.
Then, in the middle of all my confusion, the strangest thing happened. I heard footsteps behind me. Turning around, I expected to see some punk kid, offering to help me back to the Senior Center. What I saw completely contradicted my expectations; what I saw, went far beyond the scope of my imagination.
“Anna,” I whispered. I hadn’t spoken her name for decades; the sound of it was foreign to me. I just stood there, awestruck, at the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She looked exactly as she did the last time I saw her. She was wearing her favorite lavender dress; her black curly hair lightly touched her shoulders. She was looking at me with her bright blue eyes, smiling her big smile.
“Hello,” she answered, “Theodore.”
As soon as I heard her voice, I knew I wasn’t imagining her; she was the only one who ever called me Theodore. My wife, whom I loved more than anyone else, was standing there, looking me in the eye.
“What do you think of this snow, huh? This was my idea. I thought it would give you a hint.”
As she spoke, I could not say anything. I could only think I was right; it had been a different kind of day. It hadn’t been my usual crossword puzzles or sitting alone, wishing that my hatred of children hadn’t caused me to retire from teaching. It had been a special day; a life changing one.
We stood there, looking at each other for a moment or two. Then, I blinked, and she was gone. She just disappeared from sight altogether. I simply stood there, freezing to death for about ten minutes, when I finally slapped myself across the face. My fingers began to throb from my arthritis. Oh my dear God, I thought to myself, I am really going crazy.
As soon as I thought those words, I heard laughter, as if I had said them out loud. Where that laughter was coming from, I didn’t know. I hadn’t heard the sound of laughter in so long; not since Anna and my three children died. I remembered the days they were all born. First, came Nathaniel; Anna named him after her brother who had passed. Then, Jane was born. She was my baby girl in every possible way. Last but not least, was Samantha; she was Nathaniel’s pet. They never went anywhere without each other.
Suddenly, I heard the laughter again. That time, I realized it was the laughter of children; it was the laughter of my children. My bare legs were covered with two feet of fresh snow. There was the same amount of snow and ice that there had been the night they all died. Anna had taken them out for hot chocolate, because the usual warm weather never gave them the opportunity, but they never returned. The car slid across a patch of black ice, and crashed into a tree. None of my family survived. I always thought that things would have turned out differently if I had gone with them; I thought I might have been able to save them.
After I was through with thinking about my past, a small area of the sky cleared up. It looked like a very small hole, like you would see in a cup of hot chocolate as the marshmallow begins to melt. As I was staring at the hole in the gray clouds, the wind began to blow and howl. I was knocked to the ground, and fell right out of my sandals, which were lost in the snow. They were the very last things my wife ever gave to me.
Right as I reached over to get my shoes, I noticed a car slam into a tree about fifty yards away. It was Anna's old car. I could see her in the front seat, and in the back, I could faintly make our three small children. The oldest, a boy, was no more than seven years old. The other two were girls; one was about four, the smallest was only about two years old. My children, I realized, were in that car.
A few minutes later, my vision flickered; I thought it was the snow in my eyes, but then I noticed that the car disappeared with a flash. Everything went dark. I could feel my legs now, and all around me was warm. I had no idea whether my or not my eyes were closed. Slowly, my vision came around. I was standing in the middle of the house that Anna and I had once shared together with our kids. It looked just as I had remembered it. Old cabin- like floors, paneled walls, and Samantha’s toys everywhere.
I could hear the same laughter I had heard in the cemetery. Also, there was something strange about the way I felt. My back wasn’t sore anymore, like it usually was. My fingers no longer ached. My brown sandals were back on my feet, and my socks were gone.
Seeing a mirror on a wall across from me, I walked over to it. Looking into it, I saw a younger me. My hair wasn’t white anymore. It was light, sandy brown. My skin was tight and smooth, and I felt unusually happy.
I turned to my left, and went into the living room. The floral wallpaper that Anna had put up was there, just as it had always been. The fireplace, which we were only able to use when it had magically snowed that one time, was lit, and I could smell marshmallows roasting. Anna, Nathaniel, Jane, and Samantha were sitting in a semi-circle on the floor. They looked up at me, as happy as ever.
“Daddy,” Jane shrieked, “Daddy!”
Then, for the first time in thirty years, I smiled. I realized what the snowfall all those years ago had been for; it was their destiny to die then, and the snow was just giving fate a little push.
Jane ran up to me, and I scooped her up in my arms. My life had been completed.