It was a strange day. Cold—the temperature at least forty degrees—and a steady rain, in the middle of August. The entire town was gray, both from the ominous clouds and the mist that rose from the ground due to the sudden drop in temperature with the rain. The stone buildings disappeared in the skyline, and as the clouds lowered to meet the mist below, a dense fog enclosed the city, making visibility less than arm’s length.
The change in weather was a sign for Anita. An omen, that something bad was going to happen. She decided to stay indoors, refused to step outside of her apartment, not even to walk to her mailbox. She kept the curtains shut so that the view wouldn’t lure her to a window, where she could trip over a cord or one of her son’s misplaced toys and crash through the glass, falling seven stories to a splattered death onto the wet concrete below.
Anita sat curled in a corner of the couch, between the arm and cushion, in her dark living room watching The Weather Channel. She pulled her knees to her chest and rested her chin on top of them as she listened to reporters talk endlessly of the unseasonal weather.
Beside her, lying on his side, was her three-year-old son, Aiden. She ran her fingers through his hair as he rested his head on her thigh. She studied his positioning on the couch. Head on her thigh, body on the couch, neck suspended between the two with no support, vulnerable to being snapped from the application of any type of pressure, whether from an inadvertent elbow or something falling from above.
She immediately scooped him into her arms, sat him in her lap, and cradled his head and fragile neck against her bosom. She kissed his forehead repeatedly, telling him how much she loved him and that she would never let anything bad happen to him as long as he stayed in her arms.
“I love you, sweetheart.”
“More than the world is round?”
“More than the sky is blue?”
“More than cookies taste yummy?”
“Even more than that.”
There was a knock on the door, and Anita hesitantly rose to answer it, still clutching Aiden to her body. She opened the door and saw no one right away, but when she tried to shut the door, quickly so as not to let the evil in the weather enter her home, Aiden shook himself from her grasp and slipped outside onto the balcony just as the door closed behind him.
She heard him scream, “Mr. Huggy!” The name of the teddy bear he thought he’d lost a week ago. Remembering that she’d accidentally thrown Huggy away, along with other old toys she assumed he’d outgrown, Anita knew there was no way he could have seen him on the balcony, but when she swung open the door to save her son from the allusion, she found only clouds, mist, and gray.