Cold

by Rob Hamel

The birdfeeder shifts more than sways, its short, black metal hanger suction cupped to the window. Large, soft flakes drift in slow, arrhythmic swings and come to rest upon one another in millions of soft embraces. A pile takes shape on the birdfeeder’s small, brown-stained wooden roof.

Waiting for the chickadees to come for days, he realizes he was late in placing the food, the birds having found their own safe havens and haunts before the North Country’s dismal winter’s arrival.

Still, he watches. Still, he occasionally opens his window, cracks the storm window, and tosses a handful of seed and suet to the ground to attract the eyes of any wandering bird.

Hoping, although so far in futility.

His hand comes in chilled, stinging sometimes, from the wet and wind and air.

He sits and stares at the red skin, sometimes holding it out the window, feeling the pain increase by the moment, bringing it in only when he tires of the game. Sitting on the couch, alone, he reverses the process, sitting to allow the hand to warm, for the red to give way to a more natural hue.

Cold comes quicker than it takes warmth to return.

“Isn’t that always the way,” he thinks. A smile slides to life.

Still cold, still waiting for warmth.

The wind howls here and there, yet, somehow, the flakes seem capable of ignoring their surroundings. They are in no hurry to meet their destiny, graceful and slow despite being surrounded by the invading storm.

He smiles – again – at the thought, looking at his phone but choosing once again to ignore the half dozen pings and dings that have alerted him of other’s desires to correspond.

Out the window is a world of grays and whites, simpler than his own life has been in quite some time, but a world he aims for and dreams of. He sits alone, the radiators clicking as they warm, his feet curled beneath him on the couch. The red has given way to pink, and he knows it is but a matter of time until the warmth and color return to normal.

He just hopes he has the patience and the time.

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Rob Hamel is a high school English teacher who reads, writes, paints and works out in Gorham, New Hampshire.