On the worst days, the ones where snow dances into my eyes and the wind chews my ears, I cannot help but think back to one summer when my mother taught me how to dance. The snowflakes change shape and become people. They are my family, with my family’s friends, and they are all smiling.
I am too little to know how to dance with them, and I sit on the floor to the side. My mother comes over, smiling and holding out her hand. I take it, thinking that she decided to put me to bed early that night because of all the commotion. As she pulls me up, I am dragged back into the snow.
“Christ,” my friend whispers, frustrated with me. His hand is pressed to back, and his hand is gripping my wrist to keep me from falling. “Watch where you step.”
I laugh and thank him, still startled from my slide. I take a deep breath, the cold stinging my lungs. I fall back to that night, the acrid smell of cigar smoke heavy in my kitchen. My mother’s hand is on my back, and her other hand engulfs mine. She is instructing me where to put my feet, small and bare on the linoleum floor.
I can hear her laugh. I feel only the two of us, and everyone around has become irrelevant. We dance slowly together, despite the speed of the song. She calmly meets my gaze, wide and thoughtful. Her smile makes my ears sting with embarrassment for my lack of skill. I miss a step, stomping on her foot, and my face heats up with humiliation.
“Oh, ouch,” I groan against the wind, so cold that it burns my face. I gently touch my cheeks, hoping my hands could provide some protection from the harsh gust. My mother’s hand is there, too, comforting me from my embarrassment.
Insisting I keep dancing, she speeds us up. She gives my little feet more room for mistake, and I shriek with laughter. She twirls me, and brings me into her body. As I spin away, I feel the floor under my toes, slick with sweat and spilled beverages. My foot slides from beneath me, and I tumble to the ground.
My shoulder throbs, and makes a sickening noise as I twist it. I had stepped on black ice, and I glare up at the sky, hoping for the pain to subside. When my thigh starts to go numb from the coldness of the snow, I clumsily rise, and continue down the path. I think about where I place each step, conscious and aware.
With my newly found focus, I dance neatly with my mother. We spin, dip, and laugh. To my dismay, the song is coming to a close. I spin one more time, and grin cheerily at her again. She laughs, tells me she loves me, and wraps her arms around me. She takes me to her body once more, warm and affectionate, and I feel protected.
The heat hits me, immediately warming my body. I sigh with relief, and check the time. Though I am late, I have conquered another walk to class. I ascend up the stairs, leaving the memory of my mother outside in the snow.
Jay Alex '15