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Drama

In the afternoon it started to snow in an unusual way and at an unusual time.

How did Mother used to put it? She would tie up the back of the lace dress and and say, “It takes a soft wind to hear things.” She meant you had to listen hard to hear people's voices.

Snow in June was very unusual for Oklahoma but not unheard of. But it made for a barren landscape. Everything would be flat and white for miles.

There wasn't much to say about the snow. She sat with Preston on the couch that had holes and didn't say anything because there was not much to be said. They looked out the window. The trailer had a couch, a little TV and a walkway that separated them from the sink. They were old.

“Do you think we should go out and see about it,” she said, after awhile. You could see it from the window above the sink.

“See about what?” he said.

It wouldn't do any good with him, she thought. If it kept snowing everything would be buried, harder to get your bearings, but not yet. It didn't matter. You could scrape things off. They weren't getting out anyway.

“You know,” she said, “Margo might enjoy the snow.” Margo the cat would need to be fed. Margo had a nose for making sure she got to the right place when she needed to get there. Cats could smell so many things.

“Are you warm enough?” he said.

“Margo's just like a little baby. Just like a little baby doll cat.”

When it was important Margo helped her to get to just the right place.

The couch had several holes. They used to use a plastic shroud for the couch.

“Yes,” she said, but she really wasn't. There was some heat but not enough. It didn't do any good to say anything about it. He wasn't going to help her. He wasn't going to even remember. The heat had been broken for awhile. There were blankets.

Jim used to get his crayons on the couch so they would use a shroud to cover it when they sat on the couch. When Jim was born.

It had been cold for awhile. Everything had been buried for awhile.

“It snowed in Tulsa in 1978,” he declared. “It was deep snow with ice like you could fall and crack your face on.”

The snow was unusual. It was making icy webbing patterns on the window. Cracking and breaking apart and reforming again.

“Do you think Jim and the boys will come by?” she said. “I'd like to see Jim.”

She didn't know where the shroud was. If it kept snowing she wouldn't be able to see Jim.

It would be better to keep the things covered. Less of a problem when things are covered.

“We'll have friends over later. That'll make everything better.”

“Jim usually brings the cracked eggs at Christmas when it snows.”

“Don't you talk about that. Let's look at the snow.”

“It's snowing now. Don't you see it?”

He looked out at the window but seemed unimpressed. He was dressed in the plaid button down shirt and khakis. He needed help dressing. “Because of that bum leg, can't get my pants on,” he always said. But now he was forgetting where things were. His shirt was half buttoned.

The doctor had looked at them and shook his head and said, It's not your fault.

It was cold, but there were blankets. Baby blankets for covering things up.

“It's nice that we have a snow day. Like when the children were little and we would have Christmas and there would be snow.”

Preston didn't say anything.

Margo the cat was not pleased with the snow. She crawled out from the back room and shook her tail in the chill. There wasn't any heat.

It would be better to keep Margo covered, she thought, especially at night.

Margo had come after Jim had left and Margo was good at findings things.

Snow in Oklahoma was unusual but not impossible. She remembered 1978 when it snowed hard enough to crack your face on when you walked outside. Jim was born in 1977 and he came at Christmas with the fresh cracked eggs.

“Why don't you call Jim?” she said. “See if he can come by.”

“Now we don't have to talk about that. We just don't.”

“I just want to see him. Call Jim. It would be nice to see Jim.”

“That always upsets you. Don't you talk about that. Now don't get started on that.”

There was a loud mushing sound. She realized she had forgotten the tomato in the oven. It had burst open and splattered. She was trying to heat the tomato but it had burst open and splattered. Her little tomato making a mess inside everywhere.

She pouted. It was a different kind of silence this time, the kind where you have plenty to say. She felt displeased and angry but she didn't know why.

“OK, alright,” he said. “If you can help me find the phone I'll call him. I really will.”

He looked around under the blanket while Margo stared.

“Don't you think somebody might call? If we can't find the phone Jim won't be able to call.”

He found the top part of the phone under the foot of the couch. They had a landline but when he picked up the receiver there wasn't a tone.

“It's not working,” he said. “Busy signal.” Preston put the phone down and said, “Let's just be done with that.”

He got so confused with the phone, she thought. “It's not a busy signal if there's no dial tone.”

“Well, wait just a minute,” he said. “Something with the cord that runs to the outside.”

She tried to tell him not to go out there but there wasn't any use with him. It was snowing in an unusual way. All that ice. “Don't you go out-” she said even though she wanted him to.

“All that snow probably cut the cord,” he said.

He was already at the door and fiddling with the latch. “See, I'll just go and stitch it back together. It's easy.”

It was snowing but not so much that she was going to stop him or be able to stop him. It wasn't that far to the telephone receiver. He could look at the line and fix it. He had been a lineman, after all.

The door closed and Margo climbed on her lap and she rocked the cat like Jim under the baby blanket and she closed her eyes like the door.

When she awoke it was dark. It was even cold through the blankets. The air slipping in was what woke her up.

Mother with the lacy dress, tying her in the back.

This is the one you want to marry?

In 1978 when Jim was born there had been snow so hard you could fall and crack your face on it.

The snow was unusually icy and it was blowing into the trailer now because the door had swung open.

Marry the one who comes home every night, she said. The ham and egger.

Jim's cracked eggs.

She didn't see him, it was dark. Often he forgot the buttons. Not really the bad leg anymore.

The tomato still needed cleaning up. It was going to be a mess. Preston would be upset. How do hide a mess like that?

Where was he?

Jim wasn't going to come by with the fresh cracked eggs if they couldn't call him.

Margo was still on her lap, shivering. She moved towards the door of the trailer. She put Margo under the blanket.

Preston, she said into the wind, into the open door, but the sound blew back at her and just made an echo.

You can't hear things changing except when there's a soft wind, Mother had said.

She found him in front of the trailer. Lying in the snow. He had made it off the steps before he fell. Snow and ice so thick you could crack your face on it.

She was able to lift him a little. Have to be careful carrying that precious baby.

At Jim's funeral they had said, “We've taken him as far as he can go.”

Should have been more careful carrying that precious baby.

Maybe Jim could still come by with the fresh cracked eggs. Like he always did at Christmas.

If you cracked an egg intentionally, that was murder. If you cracked it accidentally, Mother had said, you just put the egg under a warm blanket and don't tell anyone. You just keep that egg under a blanket and let it rest because sometimes you can use it all over again.

She had put Jim under a blanket and let him rest.

The doctor had said, it's not your fault.

She brought Preston to the couch again with the holes. She remembered the shroud was in the cabinet. She would use the blanket for herself but let him rest under the shroud for the couch. In the morning the trailer would heat up again.

After she laid him down on the couch she went behind the trailer in the snow to see if Jim would be there.

It took a minute but Margo led her right there and helped her find the spot under the snow.

Sometimes she could feel him even if she couldn't see him, exactly. She took solace in the fact that she was letting his cracked egg rest for awhile before he could be better. The place where she let him rest was clearly marked, but only she knew of it. Only she could talk to Jim and make everything better.

She shut the door and watched the unusual snow falling on the outside of the window.

January 22, 2021 00:51

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1 comment

Eric Deitch
11:51 Jan 28, 2021

Hello Mr. Eubanks. I read your story twice and it has yet to make much sense. It is very disjointed as far as a narrative is concerned. I think you were trying to cram too many storylines into one piece of work and, in the end, it was a bit confusing. Perhaps hone in on one or two backstories. I could see that you knew what you were talking about, but as a reader, I had no real idea what the plot was. I'm not saying it is bad, it just needs to be tightened up to give a more direct purpose. We're all just amateurs here trying to get our idea...

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