White Matter

The town was completely white. Cars, trees, power lines…everything was covered in white. I climbed up the couch by the double window and slid the curtains to the side. Kneeling on the seat, I cross my hands on top of each other under my chin and watch the white matter fall from the sky. It doesn’t stop falling.

No different patterns, no colors, nothing but white when I look up and around. The brick houses in my neighborhood are untouched, except for their roofs. Up there, the white matter does stick. The roof on some of the houses have a very thick layer hanging on for dear life, while others only have some flakes scattered all over the edges.

A squeaky sound disrupts my absorption. I turn my head to the house next door to the left and see Mr. Claude, our neighbor, resurfacing from under his garage door with a shovel in hand. He walks about two feet from the garage to where the white matter is accumulated and he starts clearing the driveway. Mr. Claude is wearing a big black and blue coat and the hood almost covers his whole pale face. He doesn’t notice me staring out the window.

I watch in fascination as my neighbor cleans all the walkable spaces around his house, only to be hit by more and more of the same white bits. Mrs. Claude storms out of the house, running after Gregory — Mr. and Mrs. Claude’s only child. My new mom says he’s hyper than me and my two sisters combined. I thought maybe Gregory was in trouble and that’s why Mrs. Claude was chasing him, but she’s just being playful. They start playing with the white matter and now I’m really tempted to touch it.

“Do you want to go outside, Emma?” says a sweet soft voice. My mom is standing behind me in her pajamas, smiling and holding a cup of…I think tea. I nod enthusiastically at her question. “Okay, let’s go bundle up and wake your sisters!” I can hardly contain my excitement.

I’m bundled up and ready, waiting for Annabelle, my oldest sister, to put on her boots before running downstairs hand in hand. I watched Gregory play with the white matter earlier and, like him, I want to roll some of it into a ball. I finally go outside and step on it; finally, the white matter. I grab a handful. It’s flaky and fluffy and…cold! Just like the wind. My eyes are googling it with intense curiosity.

“It’s snow,” says my new mom, a smile on her face. Snow. Of course. It’s been seven months since I came to this country, but I’ve only seen this in one of the movies Annabelle plays for me a bunch of times a day. I really like Manny and Sid, and Annabelle says it keeps me busy while she studies. And, here it is, the same white matter in front of me. My other sister Liz comes out running and grabs my hand.

“Yay, snow day! Come on, Emma, let’s make a snow angel!”

Snow angel? I don’t know what it is, but my mom seems excited. She steps aside and takes her camera out of her pocket. I think it’s going to be a fun day.

© Marcia Capellán

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Staying focused is hard

I’ve never been able to finish reading a book in one day or one week, not even in a month. Short attention span is a bitch. It took me a year to complete a 200-page book called The Bitch In The House. Nonfiction, especially by funny comedians, tend to hook me quicker. In an attempt to read more, I’ve purchased The Bed Wetter by Sarah Silverman; Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler; Bossy Pants by Tina Fey; and an audio book (which is not funny at all, just depressing) called The Story of Mary MacLane by McLane herself. I’ve finished none.

They’re all interesting books, but I keep putting them down. The Story of Mary McLane, however, really got me to read (or listen) farther than the rest. Obviously I must be into depressing nonfiction. I listened to that book whenever I went on long train rides (a sign that maybe audio books are a better alternative for people with short attention span). Well, I have finished none.

This, people, is why I read and write short stories. It’s not easy for some of us to stay on track. Where was I gain…

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