Each year, at the first snowfall, Greg Whiting concerns himself with nothing but drinking cheap whiskey paired with equally tasteless junk foods. It had become Greg's solo celebration to his favorite season. A commemoration to a season of slowness. The heat of summer was rough, but winter could kill. Men and women sheltered themselves from Mother Nature, whose violent fits grounded planes and gridlocked roads and rendered entire cities powerless. The whole season was one evolved act of survival. No longer dire. To many, peaceful. People would just hunker down and await the end of Mother Nature's blows. Greg liked the waiting, the way that time suddenly slowed.

On November 7th, Greg awakened to half a foot of snow on the ground. He knew even before he awoke that it had snowed. The world had fallen too silent at night. Aimless night activity remained homebound. The creaking branches and barking dogs and scurrying rodents, all their sounds were padded by the soft billowing flakes stacking atop another. Once conscious, Greg was not surprised to see the snow, just delighted. He dressed with a smile and after bundling walked to the nearby corner store to buy one bottle of Evan Williams, a bag of salt & vinegar chips, and a handful of instant noodles.

The corner store cashier had a most forgettable set of features. Though Greg had visited the store hundreds of times before he was never quite sure if this was the same cashier from his last visits. Greg always smirked at the cashier when he entered, a nice to see you again kinda face - just in case. It wasn't until Greg was checking out that he peered at the man's name tag and read 'Chris.' The same cashier. A standard name for a standard man on, what was, up to this point, a most very standard day.

"Enjoy," Chris said, cheerfully, as Greg walked out the door.

Greg nodded and faked a smile. Once outside Greg thought, enjoy? What's that supposed to mean, in that tone? Like he knew some kind of surprise awaited me.

Winter, for all its extremes, was maddeningly dull. Even the temperature - winter's star topic - would drop to a degree indiscernible. It made no difference if the air was fifteen, seven, or zero. It all felt the same. The colors of winter depraved the eyes of all stimulation. A white ground rested below gray skies. A site so harsh and uninviting, so paradoxically bright, it could make one go blind. Most odd, was that winter lacked any scent. Take a hard enough whiff and your nostrils would burn. If there were any reprieve to winter's monotony it was its predictability. Winter was just one long morose song, a sad progression of chords, which when timed perfectly, delivered a sadness as warm as spring.

On his walk back to his apartment Greg watched his breath evaporate into the air between each step. Even that was white. When it evaporated he turned his eyes down towards his feet. Which breached the visible layer of snow and descended with a crunch. Like the snowflakes were tiny, dulled-teeth goblins incapable of penetrating his boots. Crunch, crunch, breathe. As monotonous as the towering gray sky. The plastic bag dangling at Greg's side occasionally brushed against his calf, crinkling and spinning to the rhythm of his stride.

A humming in the distance drew Greg's eyes far - to the end of the block - where a mauve Ford Taurus spun its tires at the stop sign.

Greg slowed his walk, in hopes that the car would free before he passed. But Greg would have been better keeping pace. Because with each passing second the driver spun their tires more, burying themselves further into the slush. As Greg approached the car he recognized the stuck woman but didn't know her name. A nameless neighbor he'd seen on occasion over the years. He doubted she'd ever notice him, because she was always seated in the same position he saw her in now - both hands gripping the top of the steering wheel; chin towards its top. Eyes fixated on the few feet of roadway to her front. Even when Greg stood parallel to her window - her wheels spinning to no end - she looked ahead. Greg knocked. She didn't look his way. Nothing changed at all.

Greg palmed her driver-side window. Sequentially, as one knocks on a front door. Gently. Pause. Then, firmer.

Still, nothing about her demeanor changed. Greg set aside his bag, walked in front of the vehicle and placed both his hands against her hood. His provocation for her to cease failed. Her wheels continued to spin. Greg stared at the woman and thought her dead; that her foot was stuck on the gas, sending her full speed into the afterlife. But, ever so subtly, he could see her breath escape her mouth. She was alive. Not exactly living. But alive.

Greg stepped away from her vehicle in search of anyone, but there were none. The whole world looked like her - icy, frozen, and still. His hands had began to numb. Stage one numb. When veins sent fiery needles against the skin's surface. He didn't bother to experience stage two. So, Greg grabbed his bag and walked home. The old lady could wait.

By the time Greg returned home, warmed his hands, and poured his first dreg of whiskey the old lady was a long forgotten memory. Greg blasted Marcus King and sat alone in his living room, savoring blue music and brown flavors, peering out his window to the all-white world. His footsteps from earlier buried under the light dusting that continued to fall from the sky. Winter was both dull and restorative. A time to kill and mourn its loss.

Sometime between his fifth and sixth glass of whiskey Greg thought of the old woman and her spinning tires. The thought so disturbed Greg that he rose to his feet and paced to the sickening thought of her sitting in her car, frozen to death. The police would come knocking. Why didn't you call anyone? Why did you leave her there to die? Why?

The thoughts so haunted Greg that he got up and dressed, bottle in hand, and walked back toward where the old lady was stuck. And there she still sat. Spinning her wheels to no end. The block smelled of burnt rubber. Gaseous and hot. And still the old woman sat with both hands gripping the top of the steering wheel; chin towards its top. Eyes fixated on the few feet of roadway to her front. Nothing about the scene changed. But this time Greg noticed a small plastic bag resting on her passenger seat from the same store that employed cashier Chris.

Greg entered the convenience store and flashed his usual smirk. But there was no Chris. There was a thump, upon Greg's entering. So, Greg leaned against the counter, figuring Chris would appear from the back, like the rest of the store’s plastic assets. Greg stood alone and surveyed the walk-through deli. Bowls of potato salad, couscous, and chili sat beside stacks of paninis and undressed salads - all ready for hungry patrons. There it was again, that thump. From the counter Greg watched a fridge door open again. He walked to the back, and there was Chris. Living, but not really alive.

Chris was frozen, not still, but in a loop. He opened the fridge, loaded a row of cokes onto a plastic pallet. Closed the fridge. Opened it again. Loaded those same Cokes back into the fridge. Closed the door again. Repeat. Greg watched him for what could have been five minutes. Not once did Chris blink. Not once did he fall out of rhythm. Grab, stack, thump. It was melodic, entrancing. Sad.

What is going on? Greg wondered. He chugged from the neck of his bottle of whiskey. Has winter struck everyone dumb? No. This was murder of the first degree. Just people killing time. A least gruesome killing; and penalty free. Bloodless and victimless. But, was winter that bad - to just exist? To avoid the boredom of winter, bypass it. Stick yourself in a loop. Like it never happened. Was the most difficult task in life none at all?

Greg chugged from the neck of his whiskey bottle. Three audible gulps then an ahh. His throat warmed. The old ladies tires spun. Chris stacked cokes. Rhythm, lead, and bass. Each in expression to winter’s melody. None had given consent. Music can do that you know, put one in a spell. The alcohol began to seep into Greg’s blood. His thoughts becoming a bit less censored. He thought Chris looked ridiculous; then remembered that he saw no one else today. Not another car, no one. It was as if all the people forgot to retreat inside and were stuck underneath the powdery flakes - like fallen leaves off a tree. Buried until spring.

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