FEBRUARY THE FIRST

Twenty centimetres of snow. It’s not cold but I wonder why she isn’t wearing a hat, again. Her hair is peppered with white flakes which melt on the streetcar, when we get on. The cats are wrestling by our shoes when we leave. They don’t want to move over when I come down the stairs but they’re afraid of my boots and hop-up-and-away. I sigh twelve minutes from University because I’ve forgotten everything that I need.

“Maybe today can be internet-research day?”

There was a crowd waiting when we got to the stop. It groaned as the first streetcar passed. NOT IN SERVICE, filled with two men. A driver and a man behind him with his arm up by the window, speaking casually to the front. Old and dressed in a grey parka, but I thought I caught a green bead rolled into his forelock hair, or a bang brushed aside.

The second streetcar is announced loudly by a woman doing play-by-play for her friend. Lisa has made it out before her, when the woman is still deciding whether or not it’s a bus. I think the woman and her friend are strangers. I muse on the fact that it’s always the bad weather that brings people together. The snow storms and blackouts that force everyone to re-evaluate what they’re doing, to Slow Down. I look over because I think she’s doing it for everyone else’s benefit, she’s loud enough for it to be. But I’m not in on the joke, I guess, or they look back at me like I shouldn’t be.

On the streetcar we stand and kiss, on the nose and the cheeks. I put my bag down on the floor and when I pick it up it’s soaking. I offer a pencil to a woman doing Sudoku with a pen and she says: “Why, because I’m making mistakes?” It’s nice enough, but I think: “Yes, André, that was too presumptuous of me.”

We rock together for a long time, hands on the metal bar. It starts to get hot. I take off my gloves and my hat. As I’m stuffing them into my pockets the car stops and I rock back quickly. Lisa shrieks and tries to catch me, but I’m cushioned by the hundreds of people standing behind. “I thought you were going to fall down,” she says.

The streetcar is warm and full of hot breath and pink cheeks. It’s a vessel and a pill. We’re wrapped snug inside, silent on a journey. Strange faces grow familiar. The atmosphere is killing me. At the front the wipers catch and make loud, rhythmic noises. I think of what treachery it would be to open the window, when I first get on, but later I dream of the fresh-breeze and street noise. The windows are white. We sit together for the last three stops. At University I get off and she’s still inside, already leaning on the window, for sleep. The snow is heavy and thick. I punch through the street snow and join a caravan of legs, all walking at the same speed. Someone hurries past us, with no hat and clear glasses, and we think: “Where are you going? Are you going to be late?” We’re all late, today.

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