A Very Short Story.
A very short story, by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:
e reached down and lifted his daughter’s small bike from the cement walkway, its training wheels still on. It had been on its side, blown over hours ago. If the biting cold of the East Wind wasn’t enough to chill him to the marrow, the cold metal of the bicycle certainly froze his hand and fingers.
Another gust of wind forced him to reposition his feet. With his free hand he pulled his jacket’s zipper higher. He cursed under his breath—so quietly that the only evidence of his transgression was a white puff of breath, quickly dispersed by yet another blast of frigidness. He sat the pink bike on his lawn, clearing the pathway to the street, and continued on. He turned his head to the right, only slightly, and the wind caught the hoodie that he wore under his main jacket, and forced it off his head. He fought with it, all the way to the curb, where he finally secured it again. He stepped onto the street’s pavement and started to cross.
A large, dark cluster of Douglas Fir swayed against the gray sky, rumbling and swishing loudly. He glanced up at it and froze.
Suddenly, he was six again, standing in his back yard in Gresham. The fifty-foot firs behind his neighbor’s house, mesmerized him. They shushed and swayed in an almost unison motion, with just enough difference between them to create a cacophony of sound and movement. His first-grade self stood motionless, staring at the eerily graceful dance and simultaneously clumsy racket of the wind in the trees. The chilling-cold power captivated him.
It was almost too loud.
He felt strangely alive, standing next to such awesome might. But the energy and force of the wind wasn’t simply up there in the trees. It surrounded him, buffeting his little-boy body with pummeling blows. Yet this amazing energy also seemed to be within him, cutting through his clothes and his skin, driving right through him. He felt like an observer of this power, yet it surrounded him and pounded him and infiltrated him. He was a participant in this vigorous choreography. As he gazed at the dance of fir and wind, he felt the electric cold pulse through his little body. He was helpless to resist it, and that made him a part of it.
A polite toot of a car horn brought him back to the Troutdale drive in front of his house. He turned his head quickly and realized he was standing in the middle of the neighborhood street; a car wanted to pass. He scurried to the side, and continued on; he gave a friendly wave, thanking the motorist for his patience.
Huddling against the cold at the mailbox stand, his frozen fingers fumbled with his keys and finally produced the smaller bronze one on his ring. He pushed it into the slot on #14. It fought with him; nothing a little WD40 couldn’t fix, but who remembers to take that with them out to the mailbox? He eventually got it all the way in, rotated it to the right, and pulled the long, skinny metal door open; he forced his hand inside. A stack of thin sheets of paper—sheets like onion-skin—greeted his fingers. Oh yeah, it’s Tuesday, he thought as he pulled the Red Plum advertisements out. He felt no envelopes, no “real” mail within the papers. So he leaned over and peered inside.
He’d ventured out tonight, in this godforsaken wind, for naught.
Suddenly, a louder, harder-than-before blast of wind nearly knocked him down. It threatened to pull the brittle sheets of paper out of his hand. He steadied himself with his free hand on top of the cold metal box stand, and pulled the papers into his torso, hopelessly wrinkling them into a ball. Securing his mailbox door closed, he turned and headed back to his house. The warm light from his windows spilled out onto his lawn.
He shivered as he walked now. Maybe it was the sight of warmth that made him feel so cold. Yet he could see the plastic sheets he’d secured to the inside of the windows, waving in the draftiness of his living room. His attempt to keep the wind out hadn't helped much.
Before he crossed to his house, he glanced back up at the stand of windy trees. They looked so raw. He imagined what it might be like to be somewhere near the top of them. To be tightly gripping the trunk of one of the swaying trees, standing on a branch, so close to where everything up there was happening. Swaying. Being a part of everything.
He sighed. Then he pulled his jacket tight once again, stepped off the sidewalk, and crossed the street to his driveway.
Before returning to the warmth of his house, he shuffled to the side of his garage, to the big blue recycling box that he’d attached to his siding with bungie-cords—to keep it from blowing away in the powerful East Wind. He lifted the lid, then tossed the big wad of paper inside. As quickly as he'd opened the lid, he closed it.
Then, he turned and quickly shuffled to his welcoming front door.