If you open the door, the snow is six feet high.
It’s high enough.
Go back in and make some popcorn.
Ask the man on the bright red sofa what he’d like.
Would he like a drink?
Could you make him a drink?
He hasn’t spoken in an hour.
You were having a perfectly fine conversation and then he just--
If you engage him in conversation, he’ll ask you about the scar on your cheek. The scar on your cheek is shaped like the letter ‘S.’ Like a serpent. It’s head poised. It’s body lean. It’s hunger undeniable. It wraps itself around the lower part of your neck and travels up to your ear and near your right ear. Your mother told you that you were pretty in spite of it, but she never forgot to leave out “in spite of it.”
You love your scar. You never put make-up on it or failed to answer questions when there were questions. You made up stories. You told a woman at the supermarket that you’d walked in on a bank robbery and a knife had done you up. You told a man at a barbecue that it was a car accident. You told your first boyfriend that it was actually a birthmark and he didn’t find that as sexy so you admitted to him what it really was and then you never saw him again.
You open the door.
The snow is still there. This time it’s gray--not white. Whoever heard of gray snow? Or has snow always been gray and you’ve just never noticed before?
The man on the bright red couch has put on music. Or did you put it on? It’s Patsy Cline.
You tell me to find someone else to love.
This isn’t a song you like. You like Patsy Cline, but not this song. Your grandmother used to sing this song while she was cutting all your hair off. Your mother would go on long vacations to Holland and Zurich and Tunisia and she would leave you with your grandmother. The only instructions she would give you as she was leaving her red lipstick on your forehead was to be good and not speak loudly, because your grandmother had sensitive hearing.
As soon as your mother would get into the car of whichever man she was dating at the time, your grandmother would sit you in one of the plastic chairs positioned around her kitchen table, and you’d hear the thrum of a buzzer. The first time she cut your hair, you wept for the rest of the trip despite all her assurances that your mother wouldn’t say a word about it and that you looked much better with a clean scalp. Sure enough, when your mother returned, she gave you a warm embrace and whispered in your right ear--
Grandmother does as she likes, Dear. It’s always been that way.
Then she thanked your grandmother for watching you and the two of you went to get ice cream. You got two scoops of pistachio and begged to never go back there knowing full well that there was nobody else to watch you and if your hair was the sacrifice that needed making in order for your mother to charm her latest billionaire bachelor, then so be it. None of the men ever proposed and you began buzzing your hair yourself just to spite your grandmother. As punishment, she made you sleep outside in a tree house your mother had played in as a girl. Little did she know you preferred it out there. There was nothing scarier in the wilderness than in your grandmother’s house. That you knew for sure.
If you open the door, every tree has a tree house in it.
All the tree houses are covered in snow, but they’re there.
Do any of them have little girls in them?
You close the door and the man on the bright red couch no longer has any hair on his head.
You want to ask him if he gave himself a haircut while you were putting on a different record. The record skips a bit, and then finds its footing. You found it in the liquor cabinet next to a copy of Auntie Mame and a rag that smelled of turpentine.
My mother will start to worry…
You look around the room and there are no corners. This must be a circular house. A room with no corners can be disorienting, but you are determined not to find yourself disoriented. You sit across from the man on the bright red couch and now he’s humming something. Is he humming along with the record?
My mother will…My mother will…
You should do something about that.
A skipping record is nothing to be dismissed.
You look out the windows and notice that all the winter wonderlands are painted on. They’re fabricated. There’s no glass. Only canvas with oil paint on it. The paintings are lovely, but they’re not real. The hair on your head is soft, but not real. It’s a wig. You found it on the way up the mountain and you told yourself you’d be a brunette for a few days. You thought the man on the bright red couch would enjoy that.
Instead he’s silent. He’s chewing on his fingernails. He’s rubbing the top of his head. Maybe he’s never had it smooth like that until now. You should tell him how itchy it’ll be when it grows back. You smell the smolder of a dying fire, but there’s no fireplace. Candles weren’t allowed. Did somebody put out a fire? Who would do that? It’s freezing outside. The cold will enter fairly soon. There should be a fire going somewhere. If you could find a stove, you’d turn it on. You’d bake something. You’d let the heat permeate the room. You’d make yourself comfortable next to the man on the bright red couch. You’d tell him a story.
You try not to read too much into things.
Outside, the snow is twenty feet high.
Outside, the snow is five feet high.
Outside, there is no snow.
Your mother taught you that nothing is anything if you decide it shouldn’t be. Your grandmother taught you that your mother never should have had children, but since she did it anyway, it was important to demonstrate the consequences of that whenever possible. That’s why none of the men proposed. That’s why your mother couldn’t have a nice life. That’s why one day she never came back to retrieve you and your grandmother told you that you might as well stay out there in that tree house and so you did. That was in the summer. By the wintertime, you’d managed to make a little home out there. The first time it snowed, it left five feet behind.
You don’t remember being cold.
But you can’t trust your memory.
You can’t trust much of anything anymore.