Cloudy Heart

The snow was cold.  There was no ignoring that.  It was the irritating itchiness of his borrowed wool jacket that was driving him insane.  The man didn’t complain, though.  For starters, there was no one nearby to complain to.  Secondly, with the sun hidden behind the clouds and a bitter wind blowing from the east, the man was lucky to even have a jacket at all.  For that much, the man was grateful.

Small pieces of the white flurry stuck to the man’s brown, scraggly beard.  His soulful blue eyes searched the land for shelter, but the white sheet of snow prevented him from doing so.  His feet had stopped being cold long ago.  He had been on the road for days and though his boots were still in good condition, he had become oblivious to the pain that attacked his feet.  Numbness had settled in long ago.  Everything from his mother to yesterday’s hot chocolate in Denver crossed his mind.  Both warmed his soul.  These were the thoughts that carried him forward.

Six years had passed since the man had left home.  This Christmas was the one he would make it home.  Anger had carried him away all those years ago. It was the anger of loneliness that forced him to return.  He had adhered to a strict life while growing up and only wanted to break free from it.  The chain held by his father needed to be broken.  The man gathered what money he had and left.  He hopped on the bus and just left.  No destination in sight, the man let the spirits carry him away.

It killed him to leave his mother.  She was the one light in his dark life.  Her energy had kept both of them alive.  The last letter he got from her was at Christmas of the second year of his absence.  The man’s father had died and the letter was riddled with desperation.  The man was a failure.  He was a man without a home and he could not return.  Even in death, his father had won.

The night grew deeper.  The man was close.  The arrival in his mind was perfect.  His mother would be there, alone and lighting the Christmas tree.  The man would walk through the front door; frozen but full of hope.  Her eyes would be a waterfall of tears.  Minutes would stretch into hours and hours into days.  Life would begin for him once again.

The man hadn’t bothered to call.  The idea of pure joy overwhelmed him.  Nothing provides the body with more sensation than the love of mother and child.  The last of his money was spent on a pair of used mittens he purchased from a thrift shop.  His fingers, now swollen, now used the mittens as nothing more than decoration.  His journey was nearly complete and the heavens could feel his heart grow.

As he rounded the corner and stepped onto Sycamore Street, the man’s legs began to tingle and his feet thawed out.  The snow intensified now, nearly blinding the man.  His heart showed him the way.  Odd memories began to creep in.  Good ones, bad ones, sad, happy; all of them.  Friends long gone and times well spent.  His father was there.  His mother as well.  She was the fire of his life.  He threw his tattered scarf around his reddened face and stopped.  Chills attacked his spine as the thought of his return grew closer.
He approached the house.  There were candles in the window that illuminated a well decorated room.  The man slowly approached the house.  His eyes peered in and his heart dropped.  Inside this hallowed vault stood a Mother, a Father, and their young child.  A lump grew in the man’s throat.  The life he once knew had moved on.  As the man continued to watch through the frost bitten window, the mother lifted her small child in her arms.  On top of a beautifully lit tree, the child placed an angel fresh from its package.  As he watched the family embrace, the man’s eyes slowly leaked.  For the first time in years, the man smiled.