An Encounter

It’s been snowing all day — a blizzard. Eight or nine inches on the ground already. Now it’s night and I’m hungry, so we drive out through the snow to get a hot pizza.

At the pizza shop, I notice a grey faced woman say hello to me as I go in the door, then when I come out she is lingering in the heavy snowfall.

“You took care of my mother,” she says. “I wanted to thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Thank you for saying that,” I say. “How is she doing?”

“She’s dead.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“They had her on life support for six days.”

“I’m very sorry.”

“You partner was upset with her beacuse she wanted to take her jewlery off. You knew she was having a heart attack, but you didn’t tell me.”

I’m not really certain what to say.The woman is standing there in the driving snow, looking at me hard. She looks very unhappy. I’m not certain if she is grateful or upset. She takes a deep drag on her cigarette, and stares at me.

I just stand there. I have no words for her. I don’t even remember the call or ever seeing her before in my life.

“God bless you,” she says.

“Well, thank you,” I say again, “You have a good night. Try to stay warm.” I start toward the ambulance.

She stays there standing in the snow watching me as I get in the front seat. As my partner starts to drive away, she gives a short salute like wave and I wave back.

I have this sense that she will always be there in my memory, standing in the driving snow on a cold night, smoking her cigarette down till the butt is gone, extinguished against her cool skin. She stares at me.

I have no idea what she sees.

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