Winter isn’t always a season. It can be a lifetime, a day or one narrow moment when everything that was living freezes up and ices over, shriveling to nothing and sliding noiselessly into the hard ground. Winter, it turns out, comes in many forms: the day you realize that more of your life is behind you than ahead; the first time you cross your threshold after your last child leaves and notice that the only sound is the door clicking shut; the instant when you recognize with blinding clarity that nothing in your life is the way you thought it was and worse, the instant that comes directly on its heels when you understand that you quietly, despairingly, suspected it all along.
Veronica Trimarchi’s winter occurred in mid-June and started in her living room, on the floor to be precise, somewhere between her husband’s naked ass and the long, smooth, bare young legs that wound around his midriff and locked at a pair of well-shaped ankles. Long, smooth, bare young legs that were attached, as they usually are, to a long, smooth, bare young woman who was stretched out and motionless on Veronica’s newly installed Brazilian cherry hardwood floor. Following the line of his young lover’s gaze, Bob Trimarchi stopped moving, slowly turned his head to glance back over his left shoulder and said the only thing that came to mind: “You’re home early”.
This was how Veronica, ice gathering in her chest and spreading to each organ, limb, muscle, follicle, came to know that the world she had inhabited for thirty two years was gone forever, gone as if it had never been. Perhaps it hadn’t. If she could have moved, Veronica (“Ronnie” to her friends) would have dragged Bob off his perch by the ear and tossed him onto the front lawn in all his pants-less glory. If she could have found her voice she would have told that strawberry blonde harlot, who looked younger than Ronnie’s crumbling marriage, to get her low-rent thighs off the Brazilian cherry and scurry back home while the grownups had a chat. In the end, Ronnie did neither of those. She simply stood in her doorway, the doorway through which her youngest child had moved all of his possessions just a few short months before, the doorway she had first entered when she and Bob were still young, still new, still in love, still with more of their lives unlived than lived, and watched her husband and his young lover pull on their clothes, exchange glances full of meaning, sidle by her on the way to the driveway.
“I’ll call you later,” Bob murmured on his way past, although for what Ronnie couldn’t imagine. Dimly she heard a car engine start, tires on asphalt rolling away.
‘Forever is over,’ Ronnie managed to think, the first thought she could piece together, standing there in her doorway. In a movement so slow it was almost careful, Ronnie slid down the door frame and came to rest, sitting in the threshold of her home, feeling the ice in her veins and toes and fingertips and wondering that she didn’t shatter. She was still there when her daughter came by, four hours later.