Where I’m from, it doesn’t snow. I’ve never even seen the snow before because I’ve never left. I never needed to leave, and I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I was a sickly one, and if I had left my home where it never dropped below a comfortable 75 degrees I might have dropped dead from the chill my mama had told me. But I once met a boy, a real nice one mind you, who told me that it snows even in July.
I met him a few days after my sixteenth summer, just a young girl dreaming of warm easy days, a book held firmly in my hands. He was two years my senior, not really a boy but surely not a man with the way he smiled. He smiled like one of the imps in my favorite play, a boyish trickster full of mischief, but also hiding something dark and heavy.
“We’re new in town, me an my parents,” he had said, swaggering up to where I sat on the front porch of my home one day in the dead of August, smile firmly in place. “I live not far away, so we’re neighbors now. My name is Winter Williams.”
He was a strange boy, surely. His accent was enough to make that clear. He was an outsider, his skin too pale, his hair too light, his eyes too bright, his smile too… existent. My home was a place where outsiders never came. My home was a place where tanned skin, sunkissed from work in the fields, was a given. My home was a place where black hair and brown eyes were the only thing that you could find. My home was a place where happiness, if there ever was any, was crushed under the boot of weariness.
Winter Williams didn’t fit in with his hair that shone like gold, his eyes that looked like clear water, his skin that looked like the fine china my mother had forbidden anyone to touch, lest they ruin it. Winter William didn’t fit in with his smile… well, he could have if that underlying heaviness shone through just a little more. And most of all, Winter Williams didn’t fit in with his name. Winter. Williams.
“What kind of name is Winter Williams,” I had asked him, shutting my book with a resounding thud. I didn’t care to remember what page it was that I had been on. I had read it a thousand times, the wear on the spine and pages and binding proof enough of that fact. In response to my question, Winter Williams just grinned at me, no longer a smile but a straight up grin. I might not have seen either often, but I knew the difference.
“Sheltered little farmer girl,” he had whispered, I’m sure thinking that I couldn’t hear. “Well, Ms….”
“My name is Anna Lopez.”
“Ms. Anna Lopez-”
“Just Anna is fine, Mr. Winter Williams.” I had been blunt, not intending to be funny at all, but Winter Williams seemed to have thought it was hilarious as he burst out laughing, the sound foreign to my ears, but not by any means grating. Not at all.
“Fine. Ms. Anna.” He chuckled a bit at my pout before looking to the sky, then looking back at me. “Winter is my name because it was my mother’s favorite season, and it was snowing when I was born, against what most would think.”
“Why would most not think that it would snow? You are an outsider, so you were not born here where it does not snow even in what we call the winter. It snows in the winter doesn’ it? So why would it be so strange?” Winter Williams laughed again.
“I was born in July, Ms. Anna. It does not snow in most places in July. Not at all. Not anywhere other than where I was born I believe.” Winter Williams looked sad as he continued, “My mother was so happy that it had snowed when I was born, against the odds. She loved the snow just like she loved the winter. So, she named me Winter and then she… she fell like the snow in which I was born.”
At the time I didn’t quite understand what Winter Williams had meant by ‘she fell like the snow he was born in.’ I had never seen snow and I was young and naive. When I asked him, he had put a smile back on his place shaking his head at me. Instead, he told me that he was a citizen of Great Britain, a country I had heard of but never seen, but that he had not been born in his so called ‘home country.’ He wouldn’t tell me where he was born, and he wouldn’t tell me why he wouldn’t tell me, but I figured it out.
Much later of course, but I figured it out.
Winter Williams didn’t disappear after that day. In fact, he came to visit me with a new book in hand just for me day after day after that, even on Sundays. I had told him not to do that because it was a holy day for God, but he had laughed and brushed it off, saying he was something called an atheist, whatever that meant, before apologising fiercely, while laughing mind you, to my mother and father who had come out cursing him and calling him a devil worshiper trying to ‘convert their precious daughter.’ How one does that, I have not the slightest idea. He then sat with me, sometimes resting his eyes, other times asking me to read to him, or even conversing with me about far off lands he had visited with his family.
It turned out that Winter Williams was the son and apprentice of a special scientist, someone who studies the Earth he had explained. He told me about trekking across a dessert to sample the sands and the water from the few oases they crossed. He told me of sailing for two years and fishing to see what kinds of fish they could catch where. He told me of camping in rain forests to observe the wildlife and the plants that only existed there. And one of my favorites, he talked about the snow.
“It falls silently, Ms. Anna. So quietly you wouldn’t believe.” I laughed, telling him that he was starting to sound like a native, if only he dropped his accent , to which told me that it was my fault and that I had started to sound like an English lady. Thinking back, I doubt that was true, but I had been sickly when he had told me, so he must have been trying to cheer me up. Sitting on my bed in my room, a pile of books on the floor next to us, we laughed. My parents had allowed Winter Williams in, I’m sure thinking that I was not going to last too long and wanting to cheer me up. I had been awfully sick that month, and my parents, my doctor, my uncle, not even our dog Hansel could cheer me up.
After a brief moment of silence, Winter Williams pulled a strange leather-bound book from his satchel, opening it up. On the page were black markings, some smudged, some left untouched, creating a beautiful scene. I was confused as to what was going on in the scene though. “What’s that Winter Williams?”
“It’s snow, Ms. Anna. This is my home in London, England. I drew this just for you,” he said with a charming smile. Up until that point he had always looked pained when he smiled, even though it shone with mischief, but that one time it looked honest. My heart pounded a little bit harder as I looked at him, and it’s now that I realized that Winter Williams and I might have been in love, even then.
Within the weeks after that, Winter Williams came every day with a new drawing of a place he had gone with his family or a sketch he had done of his family members. He was a great artists and I’m sure if it weren’t for his father, he would have gone and pursued it. I got better, my parents cried calling it a miracle, and I just called it Winter Williams. It was no miracle. Winter Williams was there every step of the way. When my doctor didn’t know what else to do for me, Winter Williams did.
When I got better, Winter Williams introduced me to Aldrich Williams, his father. He was a stern looking man with a soft heart. Aldrich was thrilled to meet me, saying that he had been wanting to meet the girl his son had been talking about so much. He then joked with Winter Williams about having another girl around, which I soon learned was because the Williams family consisted of Aldrich, his son, his new wife Catherine, and their three young daughters, Madison, Margaret, and Maxine. The entire family was very nice, but they were very, very different when compared to Winter Williams.
After meeting Winter William’s family, I snuck out everyday to visit, much to my parents’ dismay. New locks were added to the doors to try to keep me in, but the windows were left untouched and Winter Williams was always waiting under my window for me to jump down. He always caught me. We used to then run to his house as fast as we could, which didn’t work out well for me often as, by the time I reached the large home I was out of breath, gasping for air. We did that for nearly every day for the next six years.
Over time we grew closer, much closer. I shared my first kiss with Winter Williams under the Texas Kidneywood tree in his front yard while I read to him on my 21st birthday. I had leaned down to where his head was in my lap and kissed his forehead softly just as my mother had always done to me which, looking back on it, was childish to do as I was old enough to understand he was a 23-year-old man. Then, before I knew it, Winter Williams leaned up and kissed me right on the lips, soft and long. I still remember that he tasted like the sweetness of the apple we had shared not a few moments before. We hadn’t spoken of it anymore after that, but it wasn’t the last time that happened.
We spent many days just like that, not exactly under that tree or reading a book. Sometimes we would run to his room, or when he built himself a small house, we would run there. We would sometimes sit on the bank of the nearby stream, with our feet in the water, leaning against each other. We would sit there, anywhere, and look at his sketchbook or at a book or just talk… and sometimes we wouldn’t, lost in each other. If my parents had known, they would have been furious, but I would have protected Winter Williams with everything I had. My body may have been weak, and it still is, but I loved Winter Williams, I love Winter Williams, with everything I had and have in me.
It wasn’t too long after, about six months I would say, when he had finally finished his house. He asked me, while we were at the steam, if I would move in with him… if I would marry him. He promised he would ask my father the right way, but he wanted me with all my flaws and he wanted me to know that. He told me that the house he had built was just for me. I had said yes, of course. How could I not. My father had said no, and my mother had agreed with him.
I hadn’t accepted it, and the window that had been my escape became the entrance to a new life. My parents didn’t know where Winter Williams had built our little house, and that became our world. The Williams family became mine, even though we never did have a ceremony. It was like that for two more years. Two years in which I was happy. Two years in which Winter Williams started to lose himself.
On my twenty-fourth birthday, Winter Williams took me down to the stream. We sat with our feet in the water, the hem of my dress soaked, his trousers pulled up to his knees. We leaned against each other, the breeze blowing pleasantly, shifting my hair and making Winter Williams laugh as it tickled his face. It was different, though. It had reminded me of when we first met. Now, at that moment I noticed something had changed in him, but looking back now, it had happened the moment my father had refused his proposal.
“Ms. Anna Williams?”
“Snow falls silently, you know.” It was silent for a moment as I sat thinking through what he had said. We hadn’t talked about snow for the entirety of our time as a couple, and the weather was hot. It was early September, still hot, so why was he talking about snow?
“I want to see it again. The silent fall of snow. Rain is so loud. It’s not peaceful or pure. Snow is white and untouchable.”
“Winter, I’ve never seen the snow,” I remind him.
“I know.” He paused for a few moments. “I want to fall like snow. Silent. Pure. Peaceful.”
“Ms. Anna Williams, I want to fall like snow some day.”
I didn’t understand him then, just looking at him blankly. He smiled at me, the same smile he had when I first met him, and kissed my forehead before standing and helping me up. We left back to our home. Little did I know that I had lost Winter Williams, the warmth of our home melting away the snow that he so loved and I so longed to see and keep. I should have known then, but I didn’t, not until recently did I finally realize what he had meant.
That night, not long after I had fallen asleep, Winter Williams left me in our bed. He left me in our home. He left me. He left our life. Winter Williams left, and I did see him again, but never again the way I had.
I loved, and I still love Winter Williams. When I found him missing, his sketchbook still on his work desk with his scientific instruments, I rushed from the house, still in my night clothes. I looked for him. I looked for him, yes I did. I loved him, and I love his still, and I thank that for the reason I knew where to find him. He was under the Texas Kidneywood tree, the one that had witnessed our first kiss.
Winter Williams was and is the man that I love. Winter Williams loved winter, just as his mother had, even though the snow that the two both loved as well didn’t fall where his life had led him. Winter Williams, the man that I loved and that I love, he loved snow and he fell like snow. There was a bottle in his hand, the light of dawn glinting off of it, the label had read veneno de cicuta, and he was dressed in all white, face peaceful and scene quiet. He looked so pure. He looked like the snow he had described and often drawn. Winter Williams got his wish. He fell, silent, like the snow.
The Williams family had helped me plan the funeral. My father had demanded that I return to the family house so that he could take care of my health and me, my mother had passed away without my knowledge the year I had left. I refused him. Good thing I did too. He would have been furious if he had known that Winter Williams was going to be a father. I didn’t invite him to the funeral, and I never talked to my father again after that.
Winter Williams was dressed in all white on the day he was buried. I never told the Williams family why, they would have been heartbroken if they knew. He was buried in silence, no crying, no speaking, no priest. It was white. It was peaceful. It was pure. It was just like the silent fall of snow.
The Williams family moved back to England, bringing me and my unborn child with them. It was winter then. Winter. Sweet, sweet winter. There was snow on the ground, and for the first time, I saw the beauty that Winter Williams had loved so much. It was two weeks later that Winter Williams’s son was born, and to our surprise, his daughter as well. Winter Williams never saw them, and he would have been disappointed that it was unusually sunny and warm on the day they were born. He never met his son, July, or his daughter, Summer. He never against saw the snow he so loved.
But he did see me again I suppose, if there really is a Heaven, because after I gave his legacy their names, I fell silently just like the snow that he loved, just like the woman who inspired his love for the snow, an end befitting of the woman who he said he had loved just as he had loved the snow and the winter and the woman who inspired it all.