Story from Ann Tinkham

The Forever Snow

 

I go back to find her, and it’s all different now. Everyone’s changed, the little ones grown, the ones in my heart ancient. They’re not the auburn-haired Jackie-O or the wide-smiling JFK cruising city streets in a mustang convertible playing the easy breezy sixties. They’re the ones I thought they’d never be, the diaper-clad, walker-bound who brace against pain, straining to grasp words that remind them of who they were.

That life behind a dome-glassed snow globe is picture-pretty on a shelf. I shake it, and the flakes dance down, lovely like, but I can’t melt them on my tongue. I cradle the frosty globe in my palm and remember.

I’ve become who they were when they were Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke, forever grown-ups in the living room. But I’m still her, wanting what she can no longer have, wanting what is no longer hers, wanting what was given away. In a garage sale. Pennies on the dollar. Covered by layers of decorating in the shade of apathy. Traded in for Glen Campbell with bell bottoms, loose hips, and fast money.

Careless with the sacred, they let the gypsies in, their aching bellies and grubby hands snatching ours to make it theirs. They, of the new dad, no longer ours. They, of the polished shoes, private schools, and gazebo living.  They, of the ever-changing storefront window. We, of the faceless mannequins, exposed. Shirts off our backs, for sale.

We crowded into a clapboard house with jagged paint, velvet sheen walls and electric blue shag underfoot, distracting us from flimsy instability. It shook when the wind blew. It shook as a reminder of what was. It shook as a reminder of what would never be. It shook when he exploded in rage. It shook when he exploded with desire. It shook when he slammed the door for the last time.

The gypsies have prospered; the colony, whole in its brought-to-you-by-him togetherness. He spilled out his eyes, ears, and steps for them. We are scattered and shattered. Desolation pods. Empty-handed, they come to us, the broken ones, asking for what is ours. If not for him, we’d shutter the store, dismantle the window, and take our mannequins home.

I still can’t find her. The girl. Perhaps she’s inside the globe too. I’ll shake it and see. Or maybe just shatter it and release her from the forever snow.