The streetlights were on, unmoored, half-seen yellow orbs floating over either side of the street.
Snow smothered dusk’s dimming light. No one else was on the street. Dressed in blue jeans, a shirt, and tennis shoes – which had holes in the soles that he’d mended with pieces of cardboard – he ran, shivering and sniffling, up the street past the warm-looking suburban houses. Most seemed half-buried in snow. Windblown snow stuck to his clothing and hair and stressed his cheeks with icy daggers. Shoving his fingers deep into his tight jeans’ pockets, keeping at least those warm, he licked snot off his nose, lifted his shoulders, and ran, catching slides and racing on.
Exploding into home, he rushed to a heater duct and stood in front of it, dripping, drying, shivering, warming. enjoying the heat. Mom, orchestrating laundry not far away, turned and stared at him, her hands continuing their folding. “Where is your coat?” she asked. Then answered herself, “Don’t tell me you forgot it again.”
When he nodded, yes, her shoulders sagged and she snapped, “Oh my God.” A warm towel was pulled from the dryer, shook out, and handed to him. “Why in God’s name didn’t you go back for it?”
He shrugged. “I was hungry. I wanted to get home.”
She issued a familiar tongue click of disappointment. He felt too stupid to be her son.
He was probably right.