Have you ever experienced personal apocalypse? Has the sudden reality of your emotional existence reached up and smacked you in the sternum like a racquetball that you did not anticipate? Snow is not what I expected. It had been a warm year; it had been the sort of hot year that causes cactuses to wither up and accept the rapture of Mariah. It is nothing short of peculiar that this October is bringing a northern icy breath south into Kansas. The first snowfall of the year came like a stalking panther last night; it pounced unexpectedly and suddenly. It amazes me to sit on a bench and observe the reaction of others who did not anticipate this. I am slowly beginning to focus on a scene about twenty feet away by a pocket of trees and an abstact outdoor sculpture.
She is bent over rolling a ball of snow larger and larger. Dark hair peeks out from underneath her distressed fur hat and she is wearing a deep red coat embroidered with two geese and an array of Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum that brings to mind slavic folk tales. Her appearance to me is as if I were a perelesnyk dreaming. She is a forgotten memory of an uncertain rustic Aneliya. It is not the poetic act of her creation of a snow-man that is so mesmerizing, it is the reality of her existence.
Prior to my notice of the situation I was reading intermittently. I try to intimate that I am still reading. Sic et Non was not the best choice to read given the situation. I think of that unfortunate scholar, Abelard married his student and got her pregnant; as a belated wedding gift of sorts his in-laws kidnaped him and hacked his bollocks off. The irony of this is quite idiosyncratic. I fein to interact with a book written by a man deprived of erotic facilities while feeling guilt over my acceptance that my act of observation is in a way voyeuristic at its roots.
I feel that it is pointless to undress her in my mind. I cannot will myself to even remove her coat. Still I imagine what it would be like to walk over there and kiss her without even taking the time to inquire her name. Why I imagine this is not quite certain to me. I understand this to be an assault on her person, yet I know that such an act is nothing short of criminal.
I do consider what she smells like. An exotic mix of baking spices feels likely. I bet she smells like nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, dark syrup, and lanolin. I am too busy reflecting on the certainty of her coat smelling like fragrant woodsmoke and sheep oil, a snowball hitting me in the head was not on my radar.
I look up and see Tony and Nick walking away trying to look very innocent.
I place revenge on my agenda. I remember when they bricked up my door with toilet paper rolls and duct-tape. Nick's gleaming Chrysler got syrup-ed and feathered by some coincidence after that event.
She had placed the middle section and is now rolling the ball for the head. I feel compelled to get up and walk the 25 feet over to help her with the snowman. My fear however, is restraining my steps. I feel guilty for watching her like a common creeper.
She has set the head in place without my help. I feel self condemnation on account of my restraint. She is setting the eyes and buttons, and the bag she brought with her is revealing its treasures. A pink straw hat that was likely from last summers music festival is placed on the head, a wide ribbon of cable from a broken electronic device is made into a mouth, and she places the squared almond mouthpiece of an old phone in place for a nose. She breaks some branches from the small nearby trees to fashion “arms” from, and she polishes the “nose” with a disinfecting wipe.
She turns to walk away and continue on to her destination, but she turns back as if she has forgotten something. She reaches deep into the neck of her coat and retrieves a blue scarf. She places the scarf on the snowman and steps back as if to thoughtfully examine it. She steps forward, rearranges the scarf, and kisses the snowman's “nose”. I assume she is satisfied when she walks away with her bag.
Cautiously I rise and walk to the snowman. I lean down to kiss the snowman’s “nose”; I find it has a bitter lemon taste. I consider whether I really want to follow through with what I want to do next. I remove her scarf and replace it with my own brown scarf. I have had a long relationship with the brown scarf; it came from a retired professor’s estate. My mother once cleaned house for the old man while he tried to explain geology to me. Now I was sacrificing memories for fantasy.
As I place her scarf around my neck I feel the marks of age and repair on the well loved hand-knitted scarf. It is striped and has the name “Anna” embroidered on one end. I walk away I smelling the scarf; it smells of lanolin, cloves, ginger, and patchouli. I now have come to feel like I have known her for a while. Anna reminds me of the girl from my home town who went to senior prom dressed as Gwynhwyfar. While other students teased her and said she was retarded for attending the event in costume, I admired her quirkiness. I was too awkward and afraid to ask her to dance though.
In November I see Anna again walking on campus. She is wearing a grey vest and despite the return to warmer weather she is wearing my brown scarf as an ascot. I walk up to her and compliment her on the scarf. As she is on her way to lunch I inquire if I could join her in the student union: by some coincidence the discussion turns to Abelard and Heloise.