It’s an uneventfully cold day in February. Even though the sun shines brighter than usual, the frost bites through my skin and freezes the moisture on my eyelashes. I walk by the Gouin boulevard. Last night had been cruel; the wind was howling in the dark sky and the snow accumulated quickly. Transports have been restricted throughout the entire city. Without any people around to play in the snow or vehicles to crush and soil it, the boulevard becomes a vast expanse of fresh powdery snow, shining the sunlight straight onto my face. My eyes remain narrowed in before the crushing luminosity of the sun.
“Perhaps I should open my eyes for once,” I tell myself. “Maybe enjoy the sight for once.”
Pierrefonds is a flat neighbourhood. There are no hills or valleys or mountains; the monotony rules above all. Truly, it is the most ordinarily boring landscape out there. Rows of small houses stretch on each side of the road far into the horizon, giving the area its only type of elevation.
As I walk down the road, I notice an empty plot of land. It’s where my grandmother used to live. She would take care of me during the harshest times of winter. The old house has now been replaced by a few young and frail maple trees, devoid of leaves and asphyxiated by the salt under the snow sheets. I close my eyes, attempting to reminisce about the time I spent at this place.
“Still sitting so far away from the fireplace?” asks my grandmother.
– I don’t want the heat or the light.
– You’ll catch a cold if you always stay so far.
– I don’t care if I get sick.
– Look, I know that this winter has been very hard for all of us. At least you could look up to the sky. The moon is particularly bright tonight.
– I hate it. There’s plenty of clouds.
– Don’t be too quick to knock it off. If you look hard enough, your sight can pierce even through the thickest clouds.
– My mama isn’t coming back, as much as I stare into the sky. Get lost.
And so, the night sky went obscure. Thick clouds covered the benevolent moon’s presence. My grandmother looks down to the floor and walks away, leaving me alone in my corner as I close my eyes.
It was the last time I had seen it.
I reopen my eyes, trying to find that pale gleam of yore, but I see nothing but this desert of snow. The aggressive dazzle forces me to close my eyelids once again. A wind blow freezes them shut. I resume my hike, walking away from this empty plot back into the platitude of the boulevard. I look downwards and keep my eyes closed, out of fear that I may blind myself forever.
by Francis Dinh