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"If It Hadn't Been for the Snow, It Never Would Have Happened," by John Gower

Gary Miller

After the Wednesday night writing group broke up I drove my 1999 Ford Ranger back to my newly rented room and though I was in no hurry to arrive since I was only going home to my own company I still stupidly drove too fast for the weather conditions. Suddenly the red jeep I was following stopped and I skidded on the icy road and tapped right into the back of it. Not too hard, but hard enough that I heard the unmistakable tinkle of glass breaking.

The other drive and I stood along side of the road exchanging information as the snow fell with a winter’s pent-up gusto. She had a broken tail light but no other damage and I had none at all. I was taken by how fair-minded and appropriate her reaction seemed. After all, she said, that’s why they call these things “accidents.”  It began to feel that we knew one another quite well and we might have gone on talking much longer if it hadn’t been snowing so hard.

The next morning I awoke up with the image of her red hair and freckly face embedded in my mind. Over the next few days her image stayed with me, as though she and I were looking at the same things together. It seems without my permission a sparkly node in my brain had been lit and every turn I made seemed to turn it on again and again. Every red-headed woman I saw made my heart go pitter-pat in anticipation, and it wasn’t just women, it was objects, too. I had become fixated on red, orange red, to be exact. And yes, I remembered her eyes, there was a bit of pink on her lower eye-lid, as though she had been crying, or sad, or at least sensitive to a sort of woe. And when they closed a sort of purple played against the paleness of her upper lid. I had no idea I would remember so much about her. It seemed like a chance encounter like any other. But something happened something beyond our control had moved us along. When I finally called her she was receptive, she thought a lunch together was a great idea. That was a relief, so it wasn’t all in my head, she did in fact have feelings for me, too. Adventure, I couldn’t wait!

Hello Mary, how are you doing? I inquired, as I approached her table at the Lucky Next Door café. She looked terrific in her black barrette and her green-brown scarf that matched her eyes. My god, her eyes were big. My attraction to her almost overwhelmed me. She sensed this and spoke in a calming casual manner. “I’m good John, it’s been a good morning, got a lot of things done, and now, a nice lunch with you.” She said, putting the situation gently back to me. After all, I was the one who called her.

I inquired about her broken jeep light and how her job was going. She was a case manager for people with major mental illness. Perhaps this explained the sadness that showed in her eyes. I told her my job of selling cars was going well, and mentioned some   recent big sales, offering perhaps a coded message towards what I had hoped would be her need of financial security.

The lunch went well, and as I helped her with her coat it was clear we would see one another again. All became illuminated as I walked to my car. Colors jumped out with a shout. I was alive again. I had no idea I was so hungry for this, no idea I needed this. Weeks later as our romance ebbed and flowed I found myself one morning running to her door in desperation, thinking that things between us had taken a change for the worse. She met me at the door, with eyes purple, brown and green and gave me kisses upon kisses and said, John, everything’s going to be alright. And it was, just like that. She then led me to her couch and we slowly seeped into the earth breathing each others breaths and yes, yes, yes, the world was good, again.

As the days and nights wove us tighter together and we began to mimic one another’s mannerisms I found myself unconsciously scanning for coded signals for our cosmic “meant to be.” It could be anything, anything at all, the snow in the streets that forced our encounter, the name of the Lucky Next Door Café. I shared them all with her as lover’s do and she pointed out signals to me, too.

However, midway through our second year our mad love affair had fallen apart. Our differences became too much to ignore and after one too many fights we called it quits.

And now, many years later, when winter’s barren trees and dull gray skies send me down, down, down, to float in the landscape of my past I fondly walk with her again and think, if it wasn’t for the snow it never would have happened.

Yes, it was meant to be, and then it wasn’t. Our attraction had run its course.