Feathers From the Sky(2)

By: Posy Roberts

There were seven kids, but we weren’t really kids anymore aside from Jackson, who was seventeen. My parents were crazy. Seven kids in sixteen years. Jennifer, Christopher, Jessica, Calvin—that’s me—Justine, Corey, and Jackson. Oh, and the dog, Charlotte. Did you catch that? JCJCJCJC. Mom and Dad were named Jacqueline and Charles. Pretty sick. And then my oldest brother just had to go and name his kid Jaycee. Jesus Christ! At least Jen broke the stupid chain.

I watched as Jaycee ran up to Mackenzie and tore his woobie—it was a stuffed dog—out of her hands and ran away giggling gleefully. Brat. Mackenzie started bawling then, and Ella wasn’t far behind. Jen nearly bowled me over on her way to reprimand Jaycee, and I was shoved into the linen closet door, where the doorknob screwed painfully into my back.

Liquor. That was the answer for moments like these, even if it wasn’t quite ten in the morning. It was a zoo. Then I remembered the liquor cabinet was bare. So was the beer fridge in the basement.

I couldn’t go off to my bedroom to relax alone either, because I shared my room with two younger brothers. Corey was listening to some sort of music that was spilling past his earbuds, and Jackson was talking to his girlfriend about who knows what, right there in the one place that could possibly be my sanctuary.

Outside. It had to be outside, then. Fuck it all. I’d go out and shovel the damn driveway and then walk to the liquor store to get something to help me calm the fuck down. Anything to just get some peace and fucking quiet and not have to deal with the noise of everyone’s incessant chatter.

I thought of something my mom used to say when she was stressed, and then I said it out loud. “Calgon, take me away.” I was bending to put on my boots.

“Need a little thinking space?” Mom asked with a knowledgeable smile on her face. Her long blonde, but now mostly gray, hair was pulled back into a twist and held with a big black clip at the back of her head. She was kind-looking and still very pretty. When I was little, I was positive I was going to marry her because I thought she was the most beautiful lady in the whole wide world. I smiled back at her, just because she still knew me so well.

“Yeah. I’m exhausted listening to all this.”

“I know, babe. Are you going to take a walk?”

“I was going to shovel first, but yeah. Eventually. We’ll all want to get out of here at some point, and we got at least six inches last night. The plow came by too.” I gave her a grin, and she just nodded as she wiped her hands on her apron.

“I’ll make you some hot chocolate for when you come back in. It’ll warm you up.”

“Thanks,” I said as I slipped into my coat and then found a decent pair of gloves and a warm hat in the huge basket in the front closet. I tugged them on, but didn’t bother looking in the mirror to see if the Fair Isle hat looked stupid on me or not. At least it had earflaps to help keep me warmer.

As soon as the heavy door was shut behind me, I heard pure silence. I just stood there and let it surround me until I was almost deaf with it. Every so often, I’d hear a vehicle of some sort driving on the interstate three miles away, but otherwise, the insulation of the two feet of snow on the ground absorbed all sound.

I took a deep breath and smelled the cold. I loved that smell, even if I couldn’t explain it to someone who’d never smelled snowy cold. It was clean and fresh, and I liked how it bit at my nose as I inhaled deeply. Puffs of condensation were billowing around my head with each exhalation. It had gotten even more frigid after the snow had stopped. That’s probably why the snow stopped coming down.

There was a shovel leaning up against the house right near the front door, so I used it to clear off the drifts the wind had settled on the front step before I shoveled my way to the driveway. I heard nothing but the scraping sound of my shovel and the nearly inaudible sound of powdery snow landing on even more powdery snow. It was mesmerizing, and I easily got lost to the monotony.

Suddenly, a snow blower started up down the street, and when I looked, I could see Mr. Arndt’s son throwing snow into their yard. I thought his name was Steve, but he was at least six years younger than me in school, so I wasn’t sure. I stared for a few minutes and saw how fast that snow blower ate up and spit out the snow. He’d be done long before I was.

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