Chapter 29: Psalm 147:18
He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
Nature’s alarm clock provided a gentle awakening for the roommates as they could hear a beautiful melody playing lightly outside their window.
“It sounds like a harp or wind chimes,” Kurt guessed as he got up to look outside. “Word, you’ve got to see this!”
They stared at the landscape from their sixth-floor perspective and saw that the sidewalks had thick, glass-like coatings of ice, rendering them both useless and dangerous. The entire campus appeared to be frozen solid, with only the wind moving tree branches providing any clue that the view was real. Prior to going to breakfast, Mike and Kurt poked their heads outside to get an answer to the music’s origin.
“Listen,” Kurt said. “Every time the wind blows, listen.”
They attempted to walk further away from Vanover, but the sidewalks proved impossible to negotiate, and even the nearby grassy areas had slippery coatings of ice on them. Like trickling water from a stream and the strumming of a harp, the music came to life across the entirety of the campus each time the wind blew on the frozen branches of trees, having them work together to play preludes for nature’s symphony. The sky was crystal clear and silver blue, and the pleasant breeze hinted that temperatures would be on-the-rise to once again make the landscape traversable, but for the time being nature’s beauty disguised its wrath like the vivid colors of a venomous snake. There would be no school that day as Oakville County shut down its operations and awaited a thaw.
This time she opened the door and didn’t shut it in his face. Instead she waited to see what order of business he had. “What is it Mike? Why are you here?”
“I came to collect on the time that you owe me, Donna?”
“What are you talking about?” She placed her hand on the door.
“You came to me twice to let me know how you felt, and as painful as that was for me, I heard you out. May I please come in?”
Donna sighed deeply as she opened the door all the way. Seeing him enter, Mary excused herself into the hallway.
“So, let’s talk,” Mike took the chance to sit next to Donna’s left side on the bed. She moved over slightly but not in full protest by his estimation.
Looking straight ahead Donna said, “Okay, you start.”
“So, Donna, do you have a boyfriend?” Mike saw a slight upward turn of her lips. She’s trying to not smile, he thought. Please, please, please, play along, Donna!
“I really haven’t met the right person, so no.”
“Have you ever had a boyfriend?”
This time Donna turned to face him. “There was a very short period of time when I thought I had met the right person.” Her eyes welled, and a tear trickled down her cheek. “No, don’t,” she said as she pushed away Mike’s hand when he attempted to wipe the tear. “Please leave now, Mike. Please just go.”
“I’m leaving, but I’m coming back tomorrow.”
“You’re coming back for what? Why are you doing this?”
“I get one more visit, remember?” Mike opened the door to leave and nodded toward Mary who had been waiting immediately outside.
“Donna, are you okay?” he heard Mary as he made his way back to his room.
“How did it go?” Kurt asked.
Mike raised an imaginary shot glass toward Kurt and said, “To Hope, my friend.”
Tuesday brought sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid 60’s. Brew Pond again came alive with ducks and geese and some early spring optimists clad in hooded sweatshirts or windbreakers. Mike created an impromptu feeding frenzy when he tossed his cigarette butt into the water. There was honking, quacking, and splashing everywhere as the hungry birds fought for no reason. He still admired their tenacity and their willingness to leave no stone unturned in their quests for sustenance.
It was 2:00 o’clock and armed with this avian inspiration, he again knocked on Donna’s door. This time she opened it, turned around, and went to sit on her bed.
“What’s in there?” she asked, noticing that Mike had brought a shopping bag with him.
“Well, I have some items that I’d like to return because they are serving no purpose for me. This guy,” he pulled out the Sad Sam stuffed animal, “needs a home, and there’s no room at the shelter. He’s loyal, unlike some people in this room, so he won’t disappoint you that way.” He handed the animal to Donna who placed it on her bed, by the pillow behind her, and looked at Mike as she kept her hands between her knees.
“Where’s the box of chocolates?” Donna asked.
“Oh, yeah, sorry about that, but Andy got a hold of it, studied the key, and ate all the good ones with nuts in them.”
“I told you I didn’t want those letters,” Donna said as Mike placed them neatly by her in the space that separated them.
“I know you did, but I couldn’t think of new ones to write, and these say everything about how I still feel today. You don’t have to read them again. Maybe you’ll want to save them in a box to show your kids one day, you know, a souvenir from your past, or maybe you’ll just throw them away, but I can’t have them with me anymore. Sure wish I could have given you this at the time it was intended.” He handed her a box-shaped object wrapped in Christmas paper. “It was supposed to be a stocking stuffer.”
“Why am I opening this? I probably shouldn’t have let you in here.”
Donna opened the box and discovered a crystal ball depicting a winter scene. The couple in the horse-drawn carriage was them, custom made with some pictures Mike had presented to the proprietor of The Personal Touch, a unique gift emporium in Northwood. “This is beautiful.” She set it down by her feet, and then resumed her position with hands between her knees.
“There’s one more thing, Donna.” Mike handed her a small rectangular box.
Donna opened it to see that nothing was in it. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“No, Donna, over the break I bought a locket for you. It really doesn’t look good on me.” He reached into his t-shirt and pulled out the chain and locket. It’s one of those that open, and it has something I placed inside and something I have inscribed on the back, but there is only one way you’ll ever know what’s in it and on it.”
Donna had tears streaming down both her eyes and let Mike wipe them off of her with his palms. “You’re such a fucking asshole,” she cried and removed her hands from between her knees to hold her head.
“Take it off of my head and put it around yours and take me back. I want to spend every day of the rest of my life making up for what I have done to you. You don’t have to do this now, but I’m begging you to let me in your life again.”