It was a cold and dark wintery night. The snow started light at first, and then quickly started to get heavy. By morning the small town of Gemstone, West Virginia had accumulated 4 feet of snow. Just waking up, Mike looked out the window and said, “Nope, not today. I’m not going outside in this weather.”
Mike used to love going outside in this kind of weather. He used to be a champion ice skater along with his wife Anna. He gave it all up when she died five years ago from breast cancer. Her loss had devastated him. Anna was the light in the room, but now there was only darkness.
On cold winter days like today, Anna and Mike would go outside and walk down to the frozen pond. There they would practice all day on their craft. They had a chemistry that could not be replicated. They shared a love for the ages that time took away in an instant. Time, our greatest enemy. No matter how hard you fight you can never win. It’s not fair, Mike thought.
They say that time heals all wounds, but losing Anna was a wound that kept bleeding. The pain he felt would not subside. It had made Mike a very bitter and depressed man. A broken shell of what he used to be. He spent his time alone in isolation with little contact with the outside world. He worked from home writing ads for the local newspapers, and did all his shopping online. The only person he had any contact with was Amy, Anna’s sister. She would come over from time to time to help Mike clean up the place, and to make sure he was still alive.
Mike was getting ready to go downstairs when he heard someone come through his front door. “Mike are you still alive! The snow is falling like something fierce out there. I hope I didn’t come all the way out here to find a dead man still sleeping in bed,” said Amy yelling up the stairs. “Yes, yes I’m still alive. I can’t believe you came over here in this weather just to give me a hard time.”
Amy smiled and replied, “Well if I don’t who will? You grumpy ass fart!” She watched as Mike came down the stairs and noticed that he was still in his pajamas. “Are you going outside today because that snow ain’t gonna shovel itself.” Mike gave her an annoyed look and said, “No I’m not going out there, not in this weather. Never in this weather.”
“Mike, Anna’s gone. Just because you two had a thing about going outside during these freak weather days, doesn’t mean you have to stop. Let me guess, you're just gonna sit by the window again and think about her all day. Would you like me to throw you a pity party while I’m here?”
Mike angrily snapped back at her, “Really? Of all days you have to come here and give me this crap. I don’t have to do anything anymore!” He walked over to Amy who was leaning against the kitchen table and continued, “Don’t you understand that when she died, a part of me died as well?” Amy could see the tears swelling up in his eyes.
“I’m sorry Mike. I know what it’s like, she was my sister you know. I miss her more than you know, but I’ve come to realize we have to move on.” Amy always had a way to get through to Mike. “I’m sorry Amy, I just miss her so much.” She reached out and gave Mike a big warm hug. “Listen, I stopped on my way over and got some groceries for you. I noticed that the pond is frozen over.” She paused waiting for Mike to snap at her again, but to her surprise he didn’t say anything.
She gave him a warm smile, and told him, “I think the best way to keep Anna with us, is to do the things we used to do with her. I think it will help keep her memory alive with us. I know it sounds crazy, but you should go down to the pond and skate. Step on that cold hard surface and skate. Just for old times sake, and for Anna.” Mike looked at Amy like she had lost her mind, but continued to listen to her.
“I have a ritual that I do, and it always makes me think of her.”
Amy’s eyes lit up as she said, “When I want to feel close to Anna, I start to bake cookies. It’s something that we used to do together, and I swear sometimes I feel like she is right there with me. Sometimes, I can even smell that awful perfume she used to wear.” Mike had to cut in here, “Hey! I bought her that perfume you know.” Amy stopped laughing and said, “I know, I’m only joking. Listen I’m serious, go down and skate. Do it for Anna. I know she would want you to keep on skating. What was it that she used to say to you whenever you felt like giving up?”
Mike looked up and tears streamed down his face. They were heartfelt tears from a love long lost. He walked over to the closet and grabbed his jacket and skates. Before he went out the door he looked at Amy and said, “Anna used to tell me to skate on… Skate on.” He smiled and walked out the door, pajamas and all.
Amy put the rest of the groceries away, and cleaned up what she could. A couple of hours had gone by, and she decided to head home. As she drove down the road, she could see the pond down below. She was shocked at what she saw. She had to look twice because she thought her eyes were playing tricks on her.
She saw Mike and Anna skating round and round. She stopped the car to rub her eyes. When she looked back, Anna was gone, but Mike looked like he was holding someone’s hand as he skated all around. “Skate on Mike. Skate on…,” she said as she drove away.
Daniel R. Hayes