Blink. Blink. My contacts have fused to my pupils. My eyes hurt. Wait, maybe it’s my head that hurts. A flatness has moved in behind my eyes much like an unwanted houseguest. I hear noise. I roll my neck to the right. Small bones go crick and crack. Oh yes, the news is on again - Sunrise with Kim Insley and Tim McNiff. Sunrise? Who are they kidding with that? At 5:00 am, winter mornings can be mistaken for the inky blackness of 10:00 pm. So cold. So miserable. So Minnesota.
Meteorologist Jonathon Yuhas is getting ready to report. His face is two feet wide by three feet long on this GIGANTIC television. “Well Kim and Tim, we’re nearing 88 hours of temperatures below –20 degrees Fahrenheit,” he says.
I hear a thud outside the front door. The newspaper. A reminder that a new day is here and Dad is still sick. This is awful to say – but I am angry, with Dad. Heroes don’t get sick. Their bodies don’t stop working. Growing up, death was reserved for 3:00 am phone calls from faraway places like India and Kuwait announcing the departure of grandparents and uncles from this earthly life. People to be loved from a far. But Dad?
The digital clock on the VCR (yes, my parents still have a VCR) turns to 5:30 am and I can no longer prolong the day. I pull myself off the couch and walk up the stairs. The tiled landing is cold. With my stocking foot I kick aside the doormat. Outside air seeps in through the weather-stripping. I know better than this. Even for a five second outdoor journey I really should put on my tundra-rated parka and boots.
With a yank I pull the front door open. Instinctively I knew it was cold. Yet the air, crisp enough to snap, still surprises me. The black morning, naked trees with anorexic limbs and snow banks salted and sanded into a Coke colored slush, startle me.
I reach down for the paper and a wind cuts across my cheeks. The paper is out of my reach and I refuse to step outside. What if I lock myself out? With no outerwear I will certainly die of hypothermia. I don’t know how long it would take, but with the real sunrise at least two hours away who is going to notice my brown body in the white snow in the pitch dark? I can already hear the headlines Kim and Tim are going to announce tomorrow. “A squirrel was found with a yogurt container on its head…Al Franken files another petition against Norm Coleman in Federal Court…this just in, IDIOT MANHATTAN girl visiting IMMIGRANT PARENTS FREEZES TO DEATH outside family home…now back to that fascinating squirrel story…
Forget it, I think and slam the door. The paper can wait until the light of day.