Woeful Days by Vashon Rivers

Gray clouds moved overhead, blocking the sun while insulating the land. Winter after the holidays. Joy stripped from the air. Lights on houses looked silly. Mountains of snow, stained by traffic, at the corner of every road. 

I wondered how many more days would pass until the pillows of gray parted. Until the weather warmed. I wanted to wear a t-shirt and shorts. Some did, but they looked like freaks against the frigid background. Ashy skin and chapped lips. 

Walking to university, I wore long underwear beneath my jeans. A sweater under my shirt. A beanie on my head. No gloves, exposed hands. I couldn’t text with covered fingers, and I needed something to distract me from the blistering breezes. 

It was sunny but freezing one day after weeks of gray skies. The temperature dropped without clouds in the sky. Never a day above zero centigrade. Everyone around town begged the sun gods to bestow springtime glory upon our land. 

Groundhog Day came, promising six more weeks of winter. Everyone cried, but what could they do? Move? My neighbors had. They were snowbirds with a condo in Florida, but I didn’t have any options. I had a degree to earn. Classes to attend. Shifts at the restaurant. 

Frozen lakes. Inches of snow. People complained, but they went to work. They visited friends. We did what we could to get through our wintry blues. Sun lamps on computer desks to keep the depression at bay. I struggled to fight sadness, as many around me also did. 

One afternoon, as though it were magic, the weather warmed. Buds exposed themselves on trees. Built up ice and snow melted. Birds in the south prepared for their flights home, like my neighbors who would return after the last frost. 

I was rushing to the Pray-Harrold building when I saw a fellow student. She was dancing barefoot in a puddle of slushy water. The joy on her face will never leave my memory. The shared euphoria that winter was on its way out, and the long days of summer were coming. Although I didn’t dance with her because my class was starting, I felt her spirit in my soul.

Wintry depression would have to wait until next year to choke me with its hold. 

Vashon Rivers is an American writer living in Mexico. His love for reading drove him to write, and he’s never looked back. He can be found on Twitter @RiversVashon

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