Heavy snow covers trees and low-hanging branches in the foreground and background. In the distance is an old picnic table covered in snow.

It’s the first major snowfall of the year. Our area had a light dusting of it a few weeks back, but it didn’t last. This time, we got inches of the wet, heavy kind of snow. As soon as I step outside, make my way across the yard for the sidewalk, the snow reveals a hidden danger: a layer of ice. No bike today. Way too much of a gamble.

The neighborhood’s a ghost town, but it always is this time of year, even before the pandemic started. A neighbor up the street moved a month ago, and I’ve missed the oddly-comforting noise of their company truck leaving at the butt crack of dawn and coming back at the end of the day.

If I’m ever in the market for any of their services, I know who I’m calling for sure.

It’s all quiet on the western front. It’s peaceful out here, but the walk is dangerous in some areas. I can’t afford another accident, so I stick to the snowy areas until I make it to safer ground. If that means walking in the street, then so be it.

Any driver who doesn’t like it can go pound sand.

I make a pit stop by a standalone free pantry to drop off some things. Let’s see how long it takes before they’re gone.

It’s just after rush hour, but it feels like midnight. I get a mile and a half’s worth of walking in, and thanks to that snow, it feels like 20 instead. I left the radio at home, and the sounds are mainly dead silence, beyond the song I had stuck in my head, anyway. I walk by a few houses with their lights and decorations on, and I see a Christmas tree in their living room window.

I bet if I lived there, I’d be home already, eh?

I continue moving forward, passing by a neighborhood restaurant with the typical bar food. I only ate there once, before I started losing the weight, so I couldn’t really make a judgment call as to what the rest of their food’s like. The TV was turned to a channel that plays nothing but holiday movies from the minute after midnight on December 1st, until New Year’s. Maybe if I get back in time for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, I’ll catch that. If not, then Frosty the Snowman will be on. Otherwise, I’ll just hit up YouTube and watch it there while I have my dinner.

A horrible thought hit me as I walked down the street. If I were to fall again on the ice, there’d be nobody around. Just as well. I got up on my own last time it happened, I can do it again. I don’t wanna risk getting sick anyway, so I gotta be even more careful.

Outside the store stood a Redbox kiosk. Before the pandemic started, last year I’d walk to the nearest one, since there’s a few others closer, and rent a movie on Friday nights. I looked at the new releases, and didn’t really see anything that sparked interest for me. Now that my day job’s hit more dry spells than it did this time a year ago, I’ve put that on ice, and will hopefully get to pick that back up when things start getting better. I walk inside the store to pick up a couple things, and warm up while I’m at it. Christmas music plays over the intercom, which I’d have never noticed with the radio, haha.

As I start heading back for home, I take in the silence and the stillness. So few cars on the road right now, and so few people outside, just the way I like it.

As luck would have it, I just missed Rudolph. Oh well. YouTube it is.

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