The Ice Road

In fiction, romance, winter on 12/12/2011 at 03:37

Seth Moran’s car slipped across the ice-slicked bridge, fourteenth of February. ‘Quiet Things’ live on the radio. An effusion of stars patterned the windshield, turning the blonde cap of Annabelle Belacqua–dreaming now, tears caught fresh on her cheeks–into an hoary nest of moonflowers. Seth wondered if she might freeze.
A deadly sequence of weathers had transformed Bridgetown into the Larsen Ice Shelf. Roads shone like diamond. Teams of dogs sang in remote yards. Seth traveled nine miles per hour, his dogged Impala doing what it could to negotiate the miles between his and Annabelle’s beds. He hummed to himself:
“Though our kids are blessed
the parents let them shoulder all the blame.”
Under the bridge drivers on the parkway threw headlights against the dark. A lamp blinked overhead, dousing the car Industrial Sunset. She shivered. An hour ago, her pert, sallow body propped against his stereo, the smell of wine uncoiling words like I never meant to….
Seth eased on the breaks, the car slid down the bridge into the wilds of Bedford, past the middle school, the tennis club, past the shop shaped like a milk bottle where Annabelle’s boyfriend worked. Seth murmured like a prayer:
only you.”
When she stirred he thought she was talking in her sleep. “Whatever you decide, don’t stop singing.” She drew toward him with the felicity of a newborn, red and breathless. “I had an awful dream.”
“You seemed pretty pleased with yourself, the look on your face.”
Annabelle adjusted to the ice world, unsure of herself, eyes fixed on houselights rolling by. She cast hair over her shoulder, tried again. “Take a left here, and mine is second on the right.” It was an old game they played, leading one another to places they knew intimately. Seth nodded.
In the driveway he kept running the car and did not look at her as she sat still waiting for him to look. “Whatever you decide….”
“You said that.”
She winced. “I know I can’t, but I don’t want you to think about anything but me.” She’d come so close the hairs on his neck touched the soft spots of her freckles.
“Now I say something.”
“Don’t be like–”
“I’m just like this. Anthony, Gloria, Sid, Nancy, you know.”
“Can’t you have a normal conversation? Can you even be nice?” A chill arm reached through the windows. Annabelle apologized, remembering…she apologized and threw herself searching desperately for his hands. He instructed her, coolly, to go.
It took several minutes for Annabelle to steer herself to the door of her house. She paused, a slight figure shaking in the dark. It started to snow.
The way home seemed haunted, laboring up hills, across glaciers. He’d lost the signal and could not remember the words. No dogs called, streetlights fluttered out. Still, it was easier. Despite the threatening strike of midnight the ice seemed friendly, fit for a greeting card, intending to thaw at the first sign of morning.


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