On my drive home last night, the flakes danced in and out of my car’s headlights, and a dusting of snow moved in low eddies over the pavement. The sounds of Pachelbel’s Canon in D echoed the snow’s dance. The violins’ descant soared in and out like the snowflakes while the cellos poured out beneath the violins. The cellos’ low rumble reverberated in my bones, echoing like emptiness deep inside me.

I remember thinking that Dad would have told me to turn the music down, that I would damage my hearing. Luke says I will ruin my hearing and the speakers. Music like the Canon in D, however, cannot always be played softly. Sometimes, like last night, I need to feel the music in my bones.

This morning, I stand at the sliding glass door and hold my arms around my middle to keep my heart in place. I try to blink away the swollen grittiness that burns my eyes.

The double panes mute sound, but cold seeps in around the edges all the same. There is not much to see yet, just the dim gray of a predawn January morning, alleviated by the snow and our weak porch light. Dull puddles of ice barely reflect the light. A slight wind moves the maples’ branches, and I imagine the faint clatter they would make.

Luke appears at my side. He hands me a mug of coffee. I nod my thanks and watch the tendrils of steam rise. I wonder how I had not noticed the rich smell as it brewed. Luke steps behind me, wraps his arms around me, and says nothing. We stand together, looking out at the early morning grayness and the snow.

I finally notice which mug he had handed me. It is the one I bought for Dad on Father’s Day, several years ago: the blue mug, with geese flying in formation over skeletal trees. Dad loved that mug.

I sip the bitterness of coffee, tempered by the richness of cream. Leaning back against Luke, I remember.

I remember pillow fights and tickling, story time and footie pajamas, tuneless lullabies. I remember homework and late night science projects due the next day, crying and lectures, yelling and being grounded. I remember camping trips, staring up at the stars, and the mystery of night birds calling.

A tear traces my cheek. Luke kisses the top of my head.

I sip the coffee, then stare down into the creamy brown in my blue mug. “It isn’t fair,” I say.

“I know.” I can feel Luke’s voice rumbling like a cello through my chest. “It’s not fair at all.”

I wipe the tear away with the back of my sleeve.

“Need a tissue?” he asks, and I just shake my head and sigh.

Luke rests his cheek on the top of my head. “It’ll be all right, eventually.”

We stand together, watching the loose snow drifting, forming faint scallops along the dull January ground. It skitters across the frozen puddles, making soft shapes in the air. He gently kisses me again, and I remember the violins’ soft melody rising and falling like snowflakes in the wind, dancing like hope. I nestle back against his chest, and he holds me close. I know, deep, deep down, that he is right. Somehow, some when, it will be all right again. The predawn gray lightens.

“Look,” he says. “Sunrise.”

Cathy McCrumb writes in the Midwest, or wherever she happens to be. Most of her imaginary friends are nice people.

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Every Day Fiction