The homeless man hunkers down at the bus stop. The snow’s coming. He uses the wide glass frame as a barricade. He’s been there for months – maybe even years. The time goes by as fast as a bashful woman blinks across the dinner table, eyes fluttering the moments away. He strings his tarp against the edges, a deep jungle green that stands sore against the stark gray of the cement waiting to be covered. He huddles beneath the green and waits. Waits. Waits for the air to start spinning, to start leaking.
Jayda sits in the backseat of her daddy’s car, always behind the driver’s seat. Been that way ever since she was a kid, but the trash begins to pile up under her boots, laces dangling in a mess of wrappers, tissues, scrawled notes so she wouldn’t forget. She glances out the window, eyes long, waiting. Waiting for something she didn’t even know she was waiting for. Just waiting.
“It’s about to storm,” Daddy mentions, trying to start up a conversation.
Jayda’s eyes seem heavy as she tries to doze.
“The snow’s coming.”
“Not soon enough.” She scans the string of stores popping out of the ground, a new type of dandelion against the harsh winter wind. The people, hoods held up in place by gloved hands, the seeds. She hoped to see a scarf or two blown away – the act of real pollination occurring.
She leans her head against the glass and blows. The window fogs. She pokes her finger against its coolness leaving pinholes, bubbles through which to see the world.
The homeless man paces. He had come out of his tarp and began to look around. And to pace. Most importantly, to pace. Got to keep moving. The snow’s coming. A woman comes up to him. Long red hair capped by a beanie, and a long tan coat. She came there often, asking what he needed. Propane tank, that’s what he always said, to keep warm.
Even though she came to him, she stood far off. Enough distance to look, but not to touch. She shoved her hand in her pocket, looked at the ground, muttered words that got lost on the wind. She looked up, but he had already turned. Pacing. Watching. Waiting.
“The snow’s coming!” Cindy told her kids who were eagerly looking out the window.
“It’s coming! It’s coming!” they echoed.
“What color do you think it’s going to be?” she asked as she picked up the shortest child so he could see.
“Blue,” he said.
She put him down and knelt down with the kids. “What song should we sing?”
They scurried away from the window and sat on the blue line that gave the puke-color carpet its appeal. They sat pressed together, knees knocking, bodies wedged.
Timmy still lingered by the window, tracing his index finger across its cold grime. He looked at the shaking trees now covered by his mazes.
Cindy walked over and whispered, “Come on, Timmy, we’re waiting for you.”
“Okay,” he shrugged. He sat down with the rest.
“Some older guy was telling me that big flakes mean small snow,” Daddy said. “And small flakes mean big snow.”
Jayda ears perked as she watched the snow begin to swirl. She just knew it was going to be the kind of snow, heavy snow, that sucked you in as you walked through it. The kind that held your boot, not ready to let go. The kind that you stepped in, hoping you’d leave a unique design so you’d know which tracks were yours, but pulled you so far your print was flat. A cookie cutter.
“You know how many weather classes I’ve taken? I’ve even signed up for a class with Skilling. Never heard that before. Where the heck did that come from?”
Where indeed, Jayda sighed.
The more we get together, together, together chanted across the room, Cindy’s high-pitched voice carrying the tune as the kids tried to keep up.
“The snow’s really coming down now, isn’t it?” Cindy pointed out the window after the song ended. “It’s like we’re in a snow globe! Pretty cool.” She looked across the faces in front of her for some type of acknowledgment, some type of approval. But they were too busy.
The homeless man stood outside his tarp, the snow beginning to pile past his boots. He stood there, arms outstretched because of his many layers. He was incapable of resting them at his sides – a scarecrow in the snow. He had his hood down so low and his scarf up so high that you could barely tell there was a person under there. People drove past him and looked at him the way teachers look at their students when they are all geared up: Do I know you? He imagined birds flying across the sky, crows trying to roost before the storm, before getting lost in the clouds. He watched the flakes twist past his head and land, first on his shoulders, then on the ground as he shivered.
Daddy says, “They say the snow is just going to melt. But I hate the look of melting snow. Black and gritty. Dirty.”
Jayda looked up to the sky and wished. She wished for the little cotton balls to stay, to come down from the clouds and just dance, whirling like a thousand ballerinas, little music boxes that never unwind.
“What’s that noise!” Timmy wails as he covers his ears and runs towards Cindy.
“Don’t worry, little one. That’s just the snowblower. It causes the snow to beat against the bricks. It makes a loud noise, that’s all. We’re safe.”
“Yes, we’re safe.”
The bus stop becomes abandoned as the buses quit running, tires becoming stuck in the snow, halted. His tarp comes loose on one edge and flaps in the wind. Crack! Crack! Crack! echoes with each of its whips. The homeless man steps forward, places one foot in the snow. Pushes down.
The snow’s coming, he whispers. The snow’s coming.
And just like the snow, he trails off into silence.
Katelyn Dunne is an alumna of University of the Cumberlands. She hails from and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. Previously, she has been a Managing Editor at The Drowning Gull, Associate Editor at Zoetic Press, and Student Editor at Pensworth. Her writing and artwork have been published in Pensworth, The Albion Review, NonBinary Review, Aurora, The Poetry Marathon Anthology in 2017, 2019, and 2020, as well as several of Z Publishing’s anthologies. In her spare time, she enjoys attending Catholic mass and eating vegetarian entrees.