This is part 2 of 4, you can find the other parts of this story here. *** As Mom pulled into the driveway, Nate saw Mary peering out from her second-floor bedroom. There was little
This is part 2 of 4, you can find the other parts of this story here.
As Mom pulled into the driveway, Nate saw Mary peering out from her second-floor bedroom. There was little doubt that she would pounce on him like she used to when they were kids. He imagined her scurrying down the steps, probably wrapped in a blanket, and hiding to ambush him.
Nate scooted out of the car, and limped to the door. He couldn’t contain his grin. Time was returning to normal after it had felt like a crawl in the hospital. He’d spent weeks recovering after being found, half buried in snow on the side of a road, with an injured ankle and hypothermia. Mom opened the door, but he pressed his back against the wall, and peered into the space between the door and its frame. Mary stared back at him.
“I knew it,” he said, and shared a laugh with Mary.
“Oh, for God’s sake, Mary. You should be in bed recovering from your illness. Why are you out of your room?”
“I wanted to take out his other ankle.”
“At least hobble me properly,” Nate chimed in.
He walked into the warmth of his home. Mary appeared from behind the door and smothered him in a quilted hug. She pecked him on his cheek.
“Asshole,” she said, then scurried upstairs.
Nate stared at Mom. “Are you sure she wasn’t switched or adopted?”
“Yup. When the stars are right, you two are the same.”
“Oh, don’t say such ill-omened things. I may just have to play on the freeway.”
Mom put her hands on her hips and titled her head. “Go to your room.”
“Thought you’d never say that.” He hobbled up the stairs.
Once in his room, Nate locked the door and enjoyed silence. Three white walls, a blue wall, and hardwood floors. He seldom made his bed; there wasn’t much reason to since he was usually in it. The walls were mostly bare, save for his high school diploma and his associate degree. There wasn’t any telling when he’d go back for his bachelors. Just below the degrees, one of the last pictures he had with Dad sat on his dresser. It was just after his graduation from community college. They were both smiling, and Dad had tears in his eyes.
A prayer card was tucked into the frame. An angel hovered just behind a boy and a girl walking over a bridge.
Nate woke up hours later. The sun was gone, and it was cold in his room.
Did the heat cut off? He wondered.
When Nate got up, he was sure to move his ankle as slowly as he could.
Fuck, it’s cold.
He went to the window to check for a draft. Nothing. Next, he went into the hallway. The staircase was illuminated by string lights. They were no doubt put there before he got home by his mother. There was enough light to see faint whisps of his breath linger before being consumed by the darkness. Nathan gently descended the stairs like some old gent with bad knees.
The kitchen was cold too. The stove light really made his breath apparent. On the right was the thermostat, which read: 33 degrees.
He rubbed his eyes, then looked again. 24. When he turned it, the numbers didn’t change, and there wasn’t any response from the furnace. The cold started to rob him of some motor function.
Nate slowly walked into the family room, where there was a plush throw blanket. When he reached the sofa, he wrapped his upper body in it. It warmed him a little, but not much. The shapes of the furniture in the dark became blurry.
A puff of breath came from next to him, and something pressed on his left shoulder. “There you are.”
To Be Continued…