I can see the wind pick up and marry itself with what snow it manages to collect from the blanket surrounding me, then swirl against a glowing red sky. The sky’s color is not the result of an approaching dawn, for I saw the sun implode moments earlier, taking with it rapture and all living things but me. I could swear that this wind is alive, though. It bites at my face and hisses incessantly. The snow around me has taken on a pink tint due to the sky and I think back thirteen years.
The memory is clear. I am with my grandfather in Georgia and it’s summer. “Record high temperatures,” the radio says. I hated how we just listened to the news. Why not a song? Play it softly, so he’d think this the perfect time for a conversation, one of those I’d remember until the day I died.
I would stand by his grave decades later, tears blending with rain from an afternoon shower and softly touch his slick tombstone, my fingers sliding over the grooves of his name, the date he was born and the date he passed away, knowing that one day between those two dates, he spoke a few sentences with an ethereal gleam in his eyes. I’d never forget what he said.
We drove down a large street, a woman on the radio commenting on what the man said about the weather.
“One hundred and twelve degrees! It’s just unbelievable out there!” she said. We were going, I realized, to the grocery store. When we arrived, I saw familiar signs attached to makeshift posts outside. “Fresh Fruit and Vegetables”, “Fresh Milk”, and “Best Peanuts Anywhere!”
We parked and my grandfather unlocked the doors. I opened mine; he hesitated before opening his, savoring the air-conditioning. My right foot dangled above the pavement and I could’ve sworn that the sole of my shoe was beginning to melt from its heat. He killed the ignition and we started walking.
The grocery store was small and made of wood. It had no windows and was oddly short. I spotted a small cart with a fat man standing behind it near its entrance. His face was red from the heat and he continuously wiped sweat from it with a light blue towel that he kept hung over a metal handle. He stood underneath a large white and red umbrella and there was a sign on his cart. Snow-cones, it read. My grandfather looked at me and noticed what I was staring at.
“Want one?” he asked. I nodded yes and we walked to the cart. “How are you today?” my grandfather asked the man standing behind the cart.
“Oh, burning up!” he said, the large roll of fat that was his neck jiggling slightly when he spoke. “How are ya’ll?”
“Oh, just appreciating every moment. Every day, that’s all you can do,” my grandfather said and ruffled my hair.
“Only way to live! Well, what’ll ya have?” the man asked. My grandfather looked down at me and smiled.
“Well, what color would you like?” I looked at all of the different colors. There was red, yellow, blue, and green. I thought for a few seconds and came to my conclusion.
“Red,” I said.
“Red it is,” the man said, pulling out a paper cone and scooping ice from the depths of his cart into it. He paused here, embracing the cold air from within his cart, smiled, and finally squeezed red syrup over the finely ground ice within the cone.
Now, walking so slowly amidst this pink snow, I think that if I only had a cone, I could make a delicious snow cone right now. It would taste so good that neither crimson skies nor silent Gods could keep me from walking.