"I don't know why you won't trade this stupid thing in", she snarled. "Or at least put chains on the tires."
He sighed. "People don't put chains on tires, Darlene. Unless they live in the mountains."
The snow had started falling at 2:00, guaranteeing a messy rush hour commute. They were calling for at least 6 inches, but now, at 5:30, it looked more like a foot. Frank realized that things often looked worse than they were when they were piled one on top of the other. Struggles, and inches of snow.
"Well, do something!" Darlene snapped. Why are we just sitting here?" She fiddled with her purse.. there had to be a cigarette in there somewhere. Frank didn't like her smoking. Nag, nag, nag, that's all he ever did. She came up empty in her search for a smoke, and let out an aggravated sigh.
The traffic had been stopped for about a half hour. They could see the blurry glow of flashing lights ahead at the intersection. Frank had gotten out of the car about 10 minutes ago to see what was happening. It looked like a car had run a light and gotten hit by a snow plow. Didn't look too good for that guy, Frank thought. Better him than us.
He had gotten back in the car pretty quickly, brushing off a layer of snow already on his head and shoulders. Darlene had hollered at him to watch it, don't get the seats wet.
He kept the engine running for awhile to keep warm, with the window cracked. Every time she complained, he thought about closing the window and just letting the fumes take them over. But then a car horn would sound behind him and he would snap to attention again.
They had married in the winter. They drove up to Michigan, a little town called Frankenmuth. It was a Bavarian inspired village, with gingerbread style houses and glowing streetlamps. It was just before Christmas, and there were garlands of lights everywhere. They had been married by a minister under an arbor of blue spruce while the snow fell. Darlene had carried a bouquet of silk edelweiss, and wore a white fur hat. She was beautiful then. She was still beautiful, he thought. Older, lined, tired, but still beautiful. He didn't hate her. He just missed her. He missed the Darlene in the white fur hat, with the wet, sparkling eyes.
"My God, Frank, how much longer?" She moaned, growing more exasperated by the minute. Frank looked at the gas gauge. "Not much longer, I hope", he said. "I'll have to turn the car off in a little while." Darlene strained to see out the window, looking for signs that the wreck was being cleared. A bank of flashing yellow lights had appeared in the snowy distance, and that meant the tow truck was here. It couldn't be long now. She settled back in her seat and folded her arms, trying to get comfortable and a little warmer. Her fingertips were cold. She wondered where she had left her gloves. She couldn't keep a pair of gloves. They must go wherever lost socks go, she thought to herself. She looked over at Frank's hands. He didn't have his gloves on either. She figured they were in his pocket. He never lost anything. He was very organized. Annoyingly organized. But she supposed one of them had to be.
She had noticed him many times before they finally met. His cousin Barbara was Darlene's best friend. Barbara had gotten Darlene on at the bank, and when Frank came in to cash his check on Fridays, she would watch him out of the corner of her eye. He always waited in Barbara's line, until the Friday she was out with the flu, and he had gotten on Darlene's line instead. It was not love at first sight, but she liked him. And he liked her, she thought. He must have, they had made a date by the time she handed him his cash.
"HEY!" Someone hollered, causing both Frank and Darlene to jump. "Get that car hauled off already!" Frank looked at the gas gauge. " It's got to go off, Darlene, or we will be out of gas." He turned the key towards him and the car went silent. They could hear the crunch of footsteps in the snow, and the muffled drone of voices. Darlene sighed again. She balled her hands into little fists to get her fingers warm.
Frank looked over at her. She hadn't said anything when he turned the car off. He expected her to complain. He looked at her face, her eyes, staring out into the dark. Look at her hands, he thought. She's lost her gloves again. He reached into his pockets and pulled his out, and wordlessly passed them to her. She looked at them, and then at him. Her eyes were wet, and sparkling.