Snow Fall

Michael B. Tager

I watched the snow fall.

We came home a little bit after the elementary schools got out. I know because, while we idled at the light on the corner of Patapsco and Merrimount (me glumly chain-smoking, Peter angrily staring straight ahead, knuckles white on the steering wheel), the alarm bell at Glehnndale Elementary rang and the kids starting pouring out.

I watched them, silently, while blowing smoke rings out the half-raised window. From a long distance away I watched the small children, all bundled up against the elements, run around with the intense focus that only the truly genius otherwise possess. I didn’t know where these kids were going specifically, but I thought that I had a good guess.

They were going home. Like us. Or me, anyway.

When the light turned green, Peter gently accelerated. He drove down Merrimount at an even speed, signaling well in advance of the upcoming turn. When we got to the turn, Peter slowly and evenly turned the wheel, turning us as a consequence. I used to love his evenness. Even when he was at his angriest (like now), he never acted anything other than even.

Deliberate. Calm. Rational.

“I wish you would scream at me or something,” I mumbled.

He looked at me with one of his innumerable looks. I recognized this one immediately. This one said I acknowledge that you just said something, but I either have no response or I didn’t fully hear the question. If you want more, you are going to have to follow this one up. Bitch.

Maybe I always just inferred the last part. But regardless, I didn’t repeat myself or press the issue. I just inhaled my cigarette and blew more smoke rings.

Inhale. Blow. Inhale. Blow.

While inhaling and blowing, I thought about the words. They made me think of giving Peter a blow job. Even in the middle of all this, I still wanted to. I thought about saying nothing, just unbolting myself, reaching over and unzippering Peter. Then I thought about leaning down and going down on him—just for a bit. Inhale. Blow. Inhale. Blow.

We might hate each other right now, but he’d let me. We would let that truce happen. There would be a smile afterwards and the promise of something more. Even in the middle of this.

I sat there and blew my smoke rings.

It didn’t take long before we turned onto our street. Golden Elm. The name had played a part in our living here. Some sort of ingrained, reformed ironic sense of amusement and recognition. We both came from streets like this: Pocahontas Trail. Clover Lane. Prancing Deer Ave. These disingenuous labels, marketing to our inner desire for peace. Or something. We used to wax philosophic about it when we first met—our mutual distaste for our suburban upbringings was one of our first bonds. The first thing he said that made me look at him with something other than the faux-jaded eyes of a wannabe intellectual at the oh-so-mature age of nineteen… well, I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but I remember the meaning. The mixed longing and loathing in his voice. Oh, I understood.

I can’t be bothered right now to be philosophic.

So when we found this neighborhood and this street in particular, it hit something in us. The bond then was so strong. We looked at each other and knew. We could have our cake and fling it around like monkeys if we wanted to.

We pulled into the driveway, still silent.

I got out of the car and casually dropped the cigarette to the dirty ground, idly grinding it out with the flat of my shoe.

Peter said nothing. He hates when I don’t throw my cigs away.

I was fully aware of his hate and he was fully aware of my awareness. I didn’t meet his gaze, but instead went into the house.

“I’ll pick it up later,” I called back as I walked away. I think I heard some kind of response.

I went into the bathroom and closed the door and thumbed the lock. I turned on the sink and filled my cupped hands with water. Before I brought it to my face, I let the water run through fingers and stared at myself. Tired, tired eyes stared back at me. I sighed and splashed my face. I then turned the toilet seat down and sat as I rubbed my face with the towel.

I still hadn’t heard Peter come in. I was listening very, very hard.

I stepped out of the bathroom and walked down the hallway to the kitchen. I love my kitchen. I love everything about it. Peter is the one who would work in there, preparing for the meal we would eat together most nights (Tuesdays I have yoga, Wednesdays he plays poker, and we have date night on Friday) but I’m the one who spent more time there. I would drink my coffee in the morning and read my paper for an hour before he even stirred. He would then go to work and I would still be there, just on my third cup of coffee and probably whatever book I was reading at the time.

I glanced over at the table and saw the book I had started that morning. I read the name and seconds later I had to look back to read it again. It kept on slipping away. I guess I didn’t care too much about it.

Then, after we both got back from work (him from the gallery and me from the bank), I would sit in the kitchen and listen to the radio and drink a glass of wine. Sometimes he would join me. On those occasions, I always changed the channel from jazz (which I love and he hates) to the blues (which I love just a little bit less but he likes). He would have a beer or sometimes just a soda and we would chat a little before he started dinner.

After dinner, he would go watch TV and I would slowly do the dishes. And then I would read some more and have some tea. Later, after the news, I would join him.

Sometimes we left early and made love. Sometimes we didn’t. Sometimes we fucked in front of the TV (once, notably, on the floor on a pile of my contracts). But that just depended. That was our room and our time.

This was my kitchen and my time and it felt so empty.

“He still hasn’t come in,” I said quietly to myself.

Then I heard the car engine start. I hurried over to the window in the front of the house and watched him drive off. I called his name, softly, “Peter.” It didn’t matter that he couldn’t hear it; I didn’t think.

I watched him drive off and felt… something. A tear? A rip? Maybe a dent. I didn’t know and thus couldn’t process. So I decided not to.

I went into the (my) kitchen and put the kettle on. I sat down at the (my) table and picked up the (my) book. I started to read and thought I was even enjoying it. Then the kettle started screaming its song. I went to get it and poured it into a mug with a tea bag already in it. It smelled delicious. I went back to the table and picked up the (my) book. I had no idea what I’d read. Or what the book was.

Pointless. Something else was in order.

I took my tea and went into the (our) living room. I sat down and immediately felt wrong. I ignored the feeling and turned on the (his) tv with the (his) remote. Something came on and I immediately shut it off. No.

I threw the remote away in disgust and stalked out of the room. I went upstairs, stopping first at the office to get my cigarettes out. The office is the only room in the house I can smoke. Peter never sets a foot in there. A trade-off. I get a room fully to myself, which he doesn’t get, but if I want to smoke, it has to be in there.

“Fuck it!” I lit up as I started up the steps and immediately felt a surge of guilt. So I put it out. Instead of flouting that rule brazenly, I compromised instead, and decided to go the place where I usually went to break that rule.

I walked past our bedroom and into the storage room that looked onto the front yard and Golden Elm Way. I had my little spot there, such as it was. I closed the door tightly behind me and walked straight ahead. In front of me was a pile of haphazardly-stacked cardboard boxes containing decorations. Halloween. Easter. Christmas. Fourth of July. All that stuff, just piled in one spot. Out of the way.

I moved the boxes, each one just a little bit, and there was a narrow path to the window that was concealed behind it. And on the extra-large, deep window sill? Just an ashtray, some matches and a thin, blue blanket. On the floor in front was a small footstool. I stepped on the stool and hoisted myself up to my little spot. I took my cigarettes out of my pocket and shook one out of the crumpled pack. I then wrapped myself in my blanket, lit the cigarette, and watched out the window.

It had started to snow, I noted.

Mostly, I watched it snow. I watched the flakes drift down from the sky. First just a few, and then, after half an hour (three cigarettes), quite a few more. Not much was accumulating, but if it kept up, well, then Peter would have to shovel in the morning. I don’t do shoveling. I’d ask him when…


The tears came then. Just a few, hard and hot, leaked out of my eyes and I barked out two short, harsh sobs. Then nothing aside from some trembling.

Inhale. Blow. Inhale. Blow.

I cracked the window open as the room started to fill with smoke. A few snowflakes drifted inside, but not many. And the smoke swiftly dissipated. I smiled tightly at my tiny success, and continued to watch it snow.

I could say that I thought about a lot of things while I sat there and smoked and watched the snow fall. I could say that I thought about the words exchanged earlier. One of us had said, “I can’t believe you could do that to me.” Was it me or him? I don’t think it really matters, as the rejoinder was, “That’s what I thought two years ago.”

Angry words. Sorrowful words. I could say that I thought about that.

I could say I thought about our first date. I remember what he wore (a black T-shirt with a cartoon duck on it, jeans, and some dressy black shoes) and I remember what I ordered for dinner (duck with plum sauce). I could say that I thought about what his lips tasted like when he kissed me softly at the end of our date (cinnamon, beer, and cigarette smoke—he smoked back then, too). I could even say that I thought about how he called me twenty minutes after I dropped him off and said, “I just wanted to let you know how beautiful you looked tonight. I was too shy earlier to say it. But now you know. And since you know, I’m, um, gonna go.” I could say that I thought about how much I smiled at that.

I could say that. But mostly, I just watched it snow.

At three in the morning, Peter pulled up in his car. I was still in the window, smoking, and watching it snow.

Inhale. Blow. Inhale. Blow.

Watch the snow.

Peter didn’t go into the garage. He sat in the driveway.

I watched him a little.

He got out and stood in the falling snow. He looked handsome.

He looked up at the window and looked at me.

I looked at him.

I can’t say how long we watched each other. I don’t know. At some point he came inside.

I stayed where I was for a time, watching the snow fall.


Michael B. Tager has been an aspiring author since he first learned what the word ‘author’ meant. He is 27, hails from Baltimore, is obsessed with Orca and hasn’t really pursued his ambition to be an author. Now is as good a time as any to begin. Mike can be reached at MichaelBTager[at]