The frozen denizens of Snow Village are caught mid-breath. They halted mid-coitus, mid-skate, mid-job, mid-death-rattle. Their pets are trapped into loyalty.
It was supposed to be the pizza delivery driver’s last day. She lined up a new job working in the Flamingo Hotel’s cleaning staff with her aunt. It paid better. She would stop gaining weight from the restaurant’s in-house buffet. Her clothing was shrinking and contorting into painful shapes around her hips and stomach.
Snapping linens into place and vacuum-dancing would suck the pasty white from her middle and deposit it… where?
Did one poop out excess fat? Did it evaporate with sweat?
She had no one to ask; her mouth was porcelain-sealed shut. Her body was trapped in this form, her arms in this pose, her cheek singeing slightly from the air venting from the box.
People told him that an off-lead dog would become roadkill.
He hoped so.
The dog smelled like beef jerky, ass, and metal. He took the dog in the shower with him and felt-self conscious under the gaze of the sopping cotton ball at his feet. He scrubbed the dog with a special shampoo that smelled like coconut. The dog came out smelling like wet Hawaiian jerky, ass, and metal.
Its nose dripped. When he read the paper on the couch, the dog would rest its nose on his thigh. The wet stain spread as he progressed from the main section to the sports to the crossword.
His son wanted a bunny. Bunnies didn’t save boys from wells. He purchased the boy a dog, a solid American mutt puppy from the pound.
His son never played with the dog. His son joined the Navy.
People raved about how old the dog had gotten. People complimented his parenting skills. The dog lent him a reputation of dependability. The dog also oozed its smell and fur onto everything he owned.
The dog wouldn’t die, no matter how many times the man crossed the street.
How old is too old for divorce?
They discussed it first when they dropped their daughter off to college. They chatted about it again a few years ago, when their friends’ marriage dried out and cracked in half. They mentioned it on vacations. They considered it while sipping coffee in bed on Sundays. They ruminated about it while pouring each other’s wine before dinner.
He had a divorce lawyer’s cream-colored, embossed business card in his wallet. It was soft with age.
He believed that the lawyer might have retired by now.
They were all getting old, and he’d need somebody to take care of him, he supposed. They owed each other that, after all this time.
Every month but December, the Snow Village was engulfed in white padding and shoved into a dark room. They tried to turn off their brains. The more they thought, the more they worried they would never come out.
They would faithfully re-emerge in snow season. Their buildings screamed again with force-fed energy. They stood by their buildings, which were often confusingly reconfigured. Sometimes a new member would join their town. Their brains were so fried they eventually couldn’t remember who had been there originally. They made up stories in their individual heads that became truth.
They hoped they wouldn’t shatter, usually.
My mother’s Snow Village is beautiful, if you don’t overthink it. We spent an hour assembling it together. My mother has constructed platforms, blankets, and a wiring system for it that she uses every year. She even quilted a backdrop that depicts the mountain range near her house. One of the homes looks like her brother’s house; she’s acquired a man walking a dachshund to put in front of it. (He’s a vet that owns a motley crew of Weiner dogs.)
Alas, I tend to stew about things.
A lot of the people are stuck in positions I wouldn’t want to be in for eternity.
There’s a boy stuck carrying an old woman’s groceries.
The pizza delivery girl will never escape her minimum-wage job.
Most horrible of all, the people waiting for the pizza will starve forever. That’s a fate worse than death.