When I wake on the couch in the early evening darkness, I reach out to touch the laptop. A ghost habit, leftover from a time when the battery was still full and the nights were lit with the glow of street lamps and inflatable snowmen, when the world was not the unfathomable snowscape that it is now. Now, each hour stretches on more gray and impenetrable than the last, leading us further and further away from our unfinished games of Words With Friends, our unwatched episodes of Jessica Jones, and our undrunk peppermint lattes.
The snow has been falling steadily, just as they of weather.com had feared. I rise and stand by the window. I hear a distant beeping somewhere far off in the expanse of night: a snowplow reversing. The roommate shifts out of bed, walks to the hallway and listens.
Do you hear that? she asks.
It won’t come here, I say.
I mean, eventually it will, she says. Probably pretty soon actually.
Hope is indifferent to us, I say. Why should we waste our efforts on it?
Whatever. I’m going to get some crackers, she says. She turns and is swallowed by the dark of the kitchen. The sound of the plow recedes towards more populated streets, and I know we have been forsaken.
The clocks stopped at 8:17 the morning before this one. Now they flash and unflash their inscrutable message: 12:00; 12:00; 12:00. All the previous days the television had warned of this. I think of the five gallons of milk I purchased at the store in preparation. Every minute, those cartons grow closer to spoiling in the dank breath of the dying fridge.
In the beginning there had been parades of foolhardy people. The wheels on their SUVs spun futilely against the snow’s churning flesh. We should help, the roommate had said. No, I had said. This is a world without ruth.
Movement in a bush. I drop to my knees and peer out the window. They’ve come for us, I think. Come for our cans of soup, for our working flashlights, for the ten packs of batteries I tore from an old woman’s panicked hands at Target last Monday.
But no, it’s only a robin, rousing in her nest. This stirs something in my long ossified heart: a memory of the days when evergreens pulsed and shook in the wind like young dancers on a moonlit night. I think of talking about these memories with the roommate, before she forgets what it was like to live in a world not ravaged by snow and the need to occasionally turn on the taps so our pipes don’t burst.
Once, there were cars on the roads and there was green in the lawns. In the intricate designs of the hedges and the garden gnomes, there were patterns. Patterns that told of an unburied world that can’t be made right again, for at least three or maybe four days. A week and a half, even, if it snows once more on Thursday. In the deep suburb where we live all things are obscured by the storm and they hum with panic and the hundreds of unshared photos that will be uploaded to Instagram as soon as we can charge our phones again.