Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
This is a work of fiction; anything resembling reality is a figment of your imagination.
Go Here for image sources. This is a sad tale, just as I thought, so be warned.
The sharp rapping of knuckles on glass and the high pitch of young voices woke her from strange dreams of frozen land and sky, steel grey water, and ice growing in her veins. “Miz Haymes, Miz Haymes! You in there, Miz Haymes?” Fighting for consciousness, like a deep sea diver struggling up from cold depths to reach the warm, sunlit surface, she pushed herself out of her chair and tottered toward the front door. Outside, lazy snowflakes glinted in the light of the setting sun and she shuddered.
Still confused from sleep and that other thing which had been preying on her mind of late, she shook her head at the number of young bodies thundering through her front door. Once the herd had gained admittance and headed for the warmth of Miz Ruby Jean Hayme's parlour, she shut the door firmly against the cold she'd always hated.
Moving as slowly as the woman of 'leventy one she laughingly claimed to be, she headed toward the fireplace herself. “They's cookies in the jar” she called, “ help y'selves, but save me a couple!” “One each” instructed the oldest girl, firmly. “Mama said not to eat Ms. Haymes outta house and home! You want me to put some wood on the fire while we're here, Miz Haymes? Wood's almost out too, we could bring some in for you.” The girl pointed her twin brothers toward the porch and turned to grab the last two pieces in the wood box, tossing them on the dying fire. Another, younger girl wandered over and leaned against Miz Haymes, thumb firmly planted in mouth. “Now you take that thing outta your mouth right now, Arabella” insisted the old woman. “That's Angela, Miz Haymes, not Arabella” said the older girl.
“So what's all the ruction about, Miss Sassy Pants” asked the old woman. “We can't find Snow, we looked everywhere we can think of and Daddy and Mama said we could come ask you” the girl, who was more patient than most adults would be, answered. And just like that, it was back again... the worry that had been eating her up for weeks now. 'Either that girl ain't got a lick a' sense or you losin' your mind, Ruby Jean Haymes!' Confused, she looked out the window at the snow coming down, then glanced at the boys carrying wood in. The first one dumped his wood in the box and headed out for another load... as he passed Ruby's rocker he whispered to her “I'm missing my dog an awful lot, Miz Haymes”. His dog! That big old white bear they called Snow! Relieved, she patted his shoulder and murmured “I'll find your dog, Reese.” “I'm Marcus!” he whispered back cheerfully.
The children didn't think much about it when Miz Haymes called them the wrong names, she'd been doing it for a while now. Their parents had explained that sometimes old folks get forgetful and that her children had been named Reese and Arabella... Reese had died a long time ago in Viet Nam; Arabella had died just a few months ago, she'd got the breast cancer. As far as the children were concerned, Miz Haymes was the best storyteller and cookie baker around and she was as fun to be with as the friends their own age were. She'd told the children once that she was still young - that she'd been young a really long time; why, just this past summer she'd spent afternoons playing 'Hide and Seek' with them, they wouldn't dream of calling her a liar. Still, Miz Haymes seemed to get real old, real fast after her Arabella died . . .
Hugs, kisses and cookies filled a few happy minutes before the old woman scooted the children out the front door and on their way back home; Marcus reminding her once more to watch for his lost dog, Snow.
Muttering to herself, more confused as the sun slipped below the world's snowy rim, Miz Haymes grabbed her coat. 'Now where's them dang galoshes? Bet one of the kids moved 'em for sheer cussedness; just wait till I get my hands on 'em, I'll tickle 'em so's they can't see straight!' Squashing her knit cap down on her head, she spotted the Benadryl sitting on the counter (by her galoshes, as a matter of fact) so she grabbed a cup of water and three pink pills. “Better take these now so my nose don't run right off my face when I find that darn dog” she singsonged to herself. Going to the bathroom, getting dressed in her winter gear, and shoving cookies and a sausage... for the dog, of course... in her pockets took a few minutes more, then she started through the kitchen to the back door. “Whoops!” she sang out, spotting the Benadryl on the counter again, “don't wanna forget to take some of these, or I might end up sneezing my eyeballs right outta they sockets!” So, sooner done than talked about, Miz Ruby Jean took three (more) Benadryl and headed out the back door into a flurry of white flakes and sleet.
“Dammit,” she grumbled beneath her breath, “ I HATE the cold! Reese best start takin' care of his damn dog or I'll spat the seat of his pants for 'im but good!” Beneath the grumbling and confusion, however, lay an abiding fear of the cold; a deep fear that the cold would snatch her soul away from the world when she wasn't looking. “ Figures, Mr. Haymes bein' away when I need 'im for somethin'” she continued, “so's I guess it's up to me, cold or not.” And she marched toward the creek, which a wispy remnant of memory pointed her toward as Snow's most likely escape route. “Deer creek,” she harrumphed as she passed the outskirts of the small town, “Oh Dear creek be more like it!” Chuckling at her wit, Miz Haymes missed the faint whining and yapping coming from the creek's bank, at first. Yawning widely, the Benadryl working despite the cold, the old woman spotted Snow, half in the cold water, only because of his thrashing. “ Hey you!” she called, “get yourself on over here and stop messing around!” But try as he might, Snow couldn't seem to pull himself all the way out of the water.
“Well hell and damnation dog, how'd you get yourself in such a fix? Reese won't never forgive me if I let you turn yourself into a pupsicle!” Sliding down the icy bank, so cold she didn't feel the old fence post bash her leg, Ruby Jean finally reached Snow, only to find him tangled up in old fence wire. “Well, lucky for you it ain't barbwire, poor old soul.” Untangling him as quickly as her shaking hands would allow, she tugged at the dog's collar until he was out of the water; trembling so violently he couldn't stand. Unbuttoning her coat, she pulled Snow's half-frozen body to her; sharing a feeble spark of warmth with the dog, rubbing his back until, at last, his shaking eased. Tucking one of her sweaters around the pooch, she ordered him home, but he wouldn't leave her. Re-buttoning her coat, she surveyed the big white dog with growing exasperation: “What I'm gonna do with you, boy? Sure cain't drag you all the way home! SCAT!!” Finally; tired, confused, angry and frightened, the old woman shoved Snow as hard as she could, which was pretty hard for a 'leventy one year old. When he just circled back around to her, Miz Haymes flung her hands up in frustration, losing her footing in the tangled wire and landing in the river. 'Why, it's almost warm!' she thought in surprise, as her heavy clothes pulled her under.
Snow howled until a nearby farmer found them the next morning.