Miriam completed her work promptly that day, cleaned up her workstation and stretched out her sore arms. She wanted to leave in time to take her photos from a studio close by her residence. She glanced out the window at the purple sky. She stared at the small photograph at her desk for a few seconds in silence.
Then she took her gold brown purse and crimson scarf and took off. When she stepped out of the building, her black boots sank into the ground. She cupped her red and cold small button nose with her small hands and looked up at the sky. It was snowing deep that day too, she pondered.
She passed by the studio and took her photos after a long chatter with the vendor, as the dark blue of the sky lurked above. When she reached her house with envelope in hand, at last, she did with her lips open.
“What’s the matter?” she said in bewilderment and little aggravation.
“Come and sit. I have something to tell you, dear.” her mother, Mona, said decisively.
Miriam went inside the house. She walked up the stairs to her room and closed the door. She put the brown envelope of her photos, carefully on her desk and sat on her chair and took a deep breath.
She opened her eyes at the sound of Mona knocking.
” Miriam, I need to talk to you. It is very important.” Mona said.
Miriam got up and opened the door, she followed after her mother downstairs into the living room and sat on a comfortable sofa by the inviting fireplace and looked at her mother.
They sat in silence for a minute.
“We got a call from…” Mona said in hesitation, with her lips wavering.
Now, Miriam’s eyes were focused on her mother’s face. On her brows. On the slight frown in her forehead. On the wrinkles that emerged and faded as she uttered every letter between her trembling lips.
“Joseph is dead. He’s dead, Miriam.” Mona said.
Miriam was not facing her mother anymore. She was gazing at the window, at the little white snowflakes swirling slowly with the wind.
“I see.” Miriam said.
“They said…he was killed in action. He was…” Mona said.
“There is no need to tell me anything more.” Mona said disrupting her.
All she did was stand up and walk to her room wordlessly. Tears streamed hot ardently down Mona’s cheeks, dripping from her bony jaw line.
Miriam locked the door. She threw herself in her bed staring at the brown envelope and reaching one arm to open it. She took out the photographs and took her time with each one.
She stared at each one with an indolent expression.
She frowned when she saw one photo of Joseph, striking a pose at an airport.
What a terrible sense of fashion. What was he thinking? She thought.
He was wearing an olive green knitted sweater with a red-nosed deer pattern, ill-fitting baggy jeans and a dark brown knitted scarf.
Then she beamed at the one dimple that appeared when he grinned.
She traced his features and expression; a long nose, a pointed chin and brown almond eyes. She traced them with her fingers. With her memory.
A tear dropped on Joseph. On his dark brown hair.
She shredded the photographs to pieces, slowly one by one and threw them very gently on the floor.
She clenched to her blanket tightly. She pressed her arms against her chest as hard as she could trying to hold something scorched in. She felt her ribs melting.
She kept gaping with her eyes wide-open, focused on the ceiling on the buzzing neon lights. After a while, her swollen eyes surrendered and her thick-lashed lids closed. Her breaths became deeper and her grip on the blanket loosened up a little.
It was long past midnight when she woke up. She got up and took off her clothes. She stared at the photographs on the floor with her mouth open. She opened the window and stood at the balcony at the break of dawn, unwary of her nakedness or the frosting cold. The heavens snowed generously as the sun rays glittered on the icy glass, on the white streets. She took the torn pieces of the photographs. She took a brief final glance at them, at a piece with almond eyes, then threw them off the balcony scattering them with the wind.
Take to the air away with the snow, just like it took Joseph away from me, Miriam thought.
She made a wish upon every snowflake to bear her grief and make her heart colder.