I’d like to tell you about someone I met and forgot a few days back. I’m not sure why it feels so important to me. It was as insignificant as tracks I left in the snow last night before the snowstorm. But it does feel important, and so I’ll tell it. According to my shaky recollection, it went something like this.
It was just before dusk on New Year’s Eve. I lived alone in a crummy apartment, where I had to bundle up in blankets to stay warm because the heater didn’t work. I was a fresh graduate. I had made several applications to legal firms, but while I waited to hear back, I needed some way to pay the bills. I became a “dasher” for DoorDash—someone who drives other people’s food to them.
As I stepped out of my apartment on the fifth floor into the cold, I took a moment to appreciate the view. The sky looked like a canvass on which some impressionist artist had splashed rich hues of purple and crimson, dotted with white—the falling snowflakes.
It had snowed all day, and more was falling. There were at least six inches. The benches were filled with moms, watching their kids as they built snowmen. A few of the children made snow angels. In the evening light, the deep impressions in the snow seemed to glow with golden edges.
My ’05 Toyota coughed and sputtered as I turned the ignition key. It was a few minutes before the car was warm. By that time, my phone was already beeping, announcing I had an order to deliver. I pulled out of the apartment parking lot, snow crunching beneath the tires.
The destination was a burger joint; two women were on duty. There was an older lady at the register helping a customer. In the back, I could just make out someone else. I walked to the back.
“Hi,” I said, “I have a—”
My voice trailed off, as I saw her.
She had a slender frame, with curves drawn like calligraphy. A smile that made me feel like I was biting into a frosted Christmas cookie. And dark eyes of the variety you could fall into.
I stood there feeling like I’d taken several shots of expresso and whiskey all at once—legs weak, heart pounding, heady dizzy, stomach giddy.
“DoorDash, right?” she said.
I nodded. “An order for—”
I glanced at my phone. Aimee. The name wasn’t too hard to pronounce, and it didn’t matter anyway, but I wanted more time. “I’m not sure how to say it.”
I stepped closer and showed her the phone. She leaned over the counter, close enough for me to smell a hint of lavender vanilla.
She squinted. “I think it’s pronounced Ay-me. I just finished making hers.”
She turned to grab the brown bag on the counter behind her.
“And how is your name pronounced?”
She handed me the bag. It was warm, and grease had soaked through the bottom.
“Angelica, though my friends call me Gelly.”
“You should get better friends.”
She laughed. “What would better friends call me?”
I looked up at the corner of the room and pretended to think. “Angel.”
She shook her head. “I’d never live it down.”
She looked at me incredulously and then covered her mouth to stifle a laugh. “Because it’s super cheesy.”
Is that right? It took me a few seconds to realize, I hadn’t responded and was just staring at her.
A bell rung, as another customer entered.
“Well, you’d better get dashing,” she said, turning to go. There was a friendliness in her gaze.
“Happy New Year,” I said and walked out the door.
I regretted it immediately. I should’ve asked her for her number.
I finished the order. The next order DoorDash matched me with was right next door to Angelica’s burger joint. It’s a sign, my heart said. I didn’t believe in signs, but I wasn’t going to argue.
I picked up the order a few minutes earlier and then made a few fast turns, cutting through parking lots. I threw my car into park and jogged to the burger restaurant.
Angelica and the old woman were in the back. They turned as the little bell rang.
“Hi,” I said.
“I know this is crazy, and I’m going to sound cheesy, but…. I think you’re gorgeous. You’re as beautiful as”—I was going to say angel but with the flurries falling outside, I had a stroke of true poetic genius—“as a snow angel. Can I be your snowman?”
She blushed and bit her lip. When her eyes fell to the ground, so did my heart. “I’m so sorry,” she said softly. “But I….”
“Have a boyfriend,” I finished quietly. I nodded and tried to swallow my disappointment. It’s hard to swallow when you’re choking, though.
The old lady at the counter laughed. “She really does—he was just in here.”
I smiled, as graciously as I could, and turned to leave.
“She is beautiful though, isn’t she?” The lady called out, as I pushed open the door. My hands were numb even before a rush of cold air gripped them.
Yes, I thought. Yes, she is.
I spent the rest of the night trying to get her smile out of my head. The rhythm of rushing from order to order was not enough though. It only seemed to draw out her beauty all the more.
When I finally made it up the winding stairs to my apartment, I collapsed, head-first, into my bed.
The ghost of her smile haunted me all night. But like the snow angels the children had made, it had mostly faded by morning. The impression was still there, but it was faint. And besides, it had all happened last year. This year, I was sure, would be better.
I opened up the window shades to let the late morning light in. A sea of white made me blink, as my eyes adjusted. More snow had fallen, erasing the old snow angels. As a group of kids entered the snow excitedly, I thought, There are sure to be more snow angels to follow.
Glib and cheesy, I know—and a terrible ending. But that was the story I wanted to tell you. I hope it was worth your while, and I wish you a happy New Year!