Snowed In

November 19, 2009
By , Randolph, VT
During the winter months, Hearst had grown less and less fond of life. Though his wife had died years ago, it was just now, with the coming of another crippling winter that he would spend alone, that he began to realize his deep sorrow. As all other life went dormant around him, his spirits reflected the change. In the autumn, with the falling of the first leaves, his cheery disposition left him. By the time of the first frost, all that could rouse him from bed was the fifth ring of his alarm clock. On the morning when the first, inch-thick blanket of snow had fallen, not even his favorite oatmeal could raise his spirits. Now that two feet of snow was outside, Hearst only had the presence of mind to sit on the couch and watch daytime TV. At the end of yet another day of soap operas and game shows, Hearst thought that his life could get no worse. He was beyond crying or otherwise feeling sorry for himself and so just blankly stared at the screen, its ambience highlighting the wrinkles and frown lines of his aged face. Just then, an emergency weather bulletin interrupted the cop drama. The emergency broadcast blared out, “…expecting upwards of six feet of snow tonight and gale force winds. It is recommended that all people stay off the roads and shovel every two hours throughout the night to avoid being snowed in. This record-breaking storm is expected to continue…”, but Hearst had already fallen asleep, and did not wake again until the exciting conclusion of the show.
The next morning found Hearst much as the night had left him, in his socks and underwear and curled up under a tattered blanket at the far end of the couch. The television set was still on, but now only showed the error message that he had come to hate almost as much as the worried postcards his daughter had been sending him from Los Angeles. She had been pestering him to come out to sunny California for years, ever since his wife had died. Every time one of the dratted postcards had come, Hearst had thrown them out, but not without looking longingly at the depictions of white sand beaches for at least a minute. Abandoning the prospect of more television, Hearst scuffed his way to the kitchen for his usual breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. Only when he slurped the last black drop and felt his brain reboot did Hearst realize that it was an especially dark morning. In fact, it appeared to still be completely dark outside. He glanced at his watch and saw that it was already ten o’clock in the morning. To make sure he wasn’t seeing things, he checked the old grandfather clock in his study, which also read ten o’clock. More intrigued than he had been in months, Hearst climbed on top of the sofa and pressed his still partially clad body against the cold bay window and looked out into what he thought cold only be yet another frigid winter night. Still seeing nothing but darkness and with cold trepidation in his heart, Hearst jumped down and flicked on the lights.
The room exploded with light. All around him was a shining and glittering mass that nearly blinded him. As Hearst’s eyes adjusted to the drastic increase in light, he fully realized his predicament. His house, as far as he could tell, had been completely covered with snow. The house was less than one story and Hearst could not see even a ray of light out of even the tallest windows. Panic gripped him. He ran to the front door, and very nearly opened it until the chill of the cold steel on his hand leveled him. He reasoned that if he opened the door, a great amount of snow could pour in and worsen his situation. He ran to the telephone at a speed more common to younger men and held the receiver to his ear. His expectations were met with nothing, however, the line was dead, and he flung the useless piece of plastic at the brick fireplace, where it fell with a dull clatter.
Eventually, the power went out in the house. After the fact, Hearst considered it a small wonder that the lights had come on even once considering the blizzard that had occurred the previous night. As a result, it had become terribly cold inside the house and crystalline ice began to appear on the carpet. Hearst had resumed his usual position on the couch, under the tattered blanket, but with his mind whirring. He thought it ironic that so far, this winter had made him scorn life. Now, that winter was seriously threatening to take his life, he became of obsessed with how could have better used it. All he could think of was Los Angeles, where he could be right now. He slipped into a restless sleep, his mind drifting in and out of images of white sand beaches, his daughter, and his wife.
Hearst was sure that he was dead. He dimly recalled a dark, helmeted figure pick him up and carry him into a red chariot with flashing lights about its frame. The dark stranger laid him on a hard surface and strapped him down, as if to prevent Hearst’s escape from death. The red chariot accelerated and all at once was moving with unearthly speed. After a ride that seemed an eternity, the red chariot slowed to a halt. Hearst was once again roughly carried by the dark stranger, but this time into a place of warmth. This overwhelmed Hearst’s already taxed brain. Black shapes obscured his vision and until many hours later he knew no more.
When he awoke, he saw again that blinding glow that he had learned to hate. However, when his eyes adjusted, he knew that he was no longer anywhere inside his house. He was in the softest bed he had ever lain in and covered with a white blanket, not of snow, but of softest cotton. Beautiful, golden sunlight streamed in through a window adorned with melting icicles. The only place he imagined this could be was heaven, an illusion further enhanced by the angelic presence above him. It was his daughter, and with a not completely uncomfortable realization, he suddenly knew that he was in a hospital and not at the pearly gates. She said, “I’m so happy I am to see you”. Hearst took a moment to fully recall his experiences, smiled, and lovingly replied, “You have no idea”.

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