I came into consciousness on the floor. Slowly I got to my feet, looked around in the pitch black of what I knew was the living room and drew a complete blank. Where were the light switch and my clothes? How many times had I been here, why couldn’t I find anything? Staggering a little I made it to the kitchen and looked out the window at my house where my children and his son slept. I’d never liked this arrangement, never liked being separated from them. The night was breathtakingly frozen, trees covered in ice, the drive in plowed snow. I found my way back and put my hand on the arm of the couch directly onto my keys. How did they get there? Breathing a thank-you I grasped them tight. Not caring about anything else, I firmly positioned the one in my hand that would unlock my door.
Making my way back to the kitchen door, I breathed in, opened it, stepped out and ran. I let my body tense forbidding the cold to touch me. My feet didn’t slip as I became a mythical creature of the night bounding a few graceful strides to the front steps. I slid the key into place, and the door opened onto a vision of children asleep under piles of blankets. With the final stride I entered and slid under with them as it slammed behind me. No one stirred. My body began to tremble from the shock of below zero; I calmed my breathing and felt warmth begin creeping up from my toes.
I awoke a few hours later, the sun blazing through a window onto my face and no other sounds but soft breathing. I rose, pulled on a pair of men’s sweats, a cowl neck sweater, my favorite oversized flannel shirt, slouchy socks, and walked over to the phone. I had one chance that he’d wake and let me in so I could get what was left behind. He answered on the third ring and I crossed the drive. I gathered things together surprised at how close they’d been to where I’d stood. Arms full, I teased a goodnight and left. The children slept peacefully as I made coffee. I walked to the window with my steaming cup and looked out on a perfect frozen morning, stunningly brilliant, intoxicatingly crisp.