S I TRUDGE MY WAY THROUGH THE UNFAZED SEA of snow I realize how close to paradise I presently am. Also I realize how badly I want to get out of it and into a nice hot bath. There's a certain serenity in a fresh blanket of snow, when the wind's not blowing and all is calm. When you are
warm inside your clumsy snow suit and all sounds muffled by your scarf wrapped close around your head. It is as if you no longer have a body, no feelings, no emotions and you are sucked out into the vacuum of an empty blue winter's sky. You are the environment, you belong here. That's why there are so many hazards in your way to stop you from escaping it. In this case, the deep snow. You fall about like a clunky fool who's learning to dance, trying to rush wherever you're headed. And the smooth blanket of snow, so organized and serenely draped across everything, sparkling, relaxed tries its best to keep you from getting there.
And as much as I want to stay, and as hard as all this tries to detain me, I clobber on, rushing for my next paradise. For no paradise is a paradise without another one ahead to complete it. The present is perfect. You always belong in the present. But you've got to keep moving to get to a better and different present. My warm bath is there, at home. A rustic piece of porcelain, it has carved lion feet and rests crookedly on a wooden floor. And it drips too, so that when you get out, you step onto a warm floor, much like the floor of a sauna. It's heaven.
I wave the water between my breasts and run my hands smoothly down my thighs. My body, light brown and smooth, ripples underwater. It belongs here, underwater.
Rushing down the hill of the Royal-Sunalta park I fall twice. Small balls of snow cling and solidify on my sweaty mittens. These are Julie's mittens. They barely fit me.
Continuing on I clobber through the front gate and clobber my way to the door which I kick open. It is never locked. Shutting the door behind me I fall over to wrench off my boots. Getting back up I begin to peel off my snow-pants. Hopping over to the stairs they finally come off. I take a step up the stairs, off come the mitts. Another step, my jacket. Another, my sweater. Another, my shirt. Then my pants, my bra and my socks. At the top of the stairs I struggle with my panties as I push through the wooden door and into the bathroom. The silk comes off and is thrown into the corner. The hot water handle is slammed on full blast. I collapse to the floor in exhaustion and anticipation, hearing the bath fill up. The room is getting warm. It is
I wave the water between my breasts and run my hands smoothly down my thighs. My body, light brown and smooth, ripples underwater. It belongs here, underwater. The door slams downstairs and there are footsteps coming up the stairs. Each creak of the stairs becomes lessened as the weight of the person upon it removes their clothing. There is a pause between steps. I listen anxiously. Then there is a continuous thud, Bump Bump Bump!
, down the stairs and the object rests at the bottom. Another step and then a pause. Thump, thump...thump, thump-thump-thump, thud
. Julie always does that, removes her boots last, halfway up the stairs. Makes more of a mess that way. And kids like mess.
She hurries up the rest of the stairs and then opens the bathroom door. Julie enters. Pulling the toque off of her head she asks, "How come the man next door has a box on his chest?" She throws the toque in the corner, near my panties. Her hair was sticking up in all directions. Toque hair. Julie makes enough of it to export.
"A box?" I ask, closing my eyes. I assume she's talking about the man who moved in across the street about a month ago.
"Yeah. It's black and rectangular and it says different stuff sometimes." She paused and I soaked up water and silence "Do you know what it's for?"
"No," I continued, "I haven't even seen the next door neighbour."
"Oh," she paused and I could sense her turn to go. She paused and then turned back to me. "What's for dinner?" she asks.
"I don't know. I haven't thought about it."
I slopped the corn onto Julie's white plate with a clank. The dark outside floods through the windows like fog, like a negative halo.