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Day Four: Snowflake

A snowflake is a snowflake is a snowflake… Not going to change. No changing. Never changing. It will always be a snowflake, bright and beautiful and falling, always falling, falling, falling, falling down from those clouds and… Clouds? Were those always clouds? Were they there before? How did they get there? No, no, no… Snowflake. Concentrate on snowflakes. Those are Real. You know they’re Real. Snowflake, snowflake bright and shiny, falling down on me. I am in control. Me. I am. Because they melt when they touch my face. Not his face, or her face or… Faces, faces, faces… I have a face. Those clouds have faces, tricky tricksters trying to make me think they’re clouds but they are them and they are watching me… Trying to steal this from me. No one can take the snowflakes away from me. They’re mine, mine, mine. A snowflake is a snowflake and the snowflake is mine and I…

“Linda?”

She jerked from her place on the bench and scrambled to brush her hair with her fingers. It was ratty and unkempt, and didn’t look like she had washed it in days. Her pupils dilated wildly as she brought her fingers down through the tangles, muttering something unintelligible.

“Linda…” His voice was calm and careful. He did not want to push her too far, but today was an important day for Linda and she needed to come with him. To get off the bench.

To get dressed… He thought, eyes traveling down to her sweater, hanging off one of her shoulders. She wasn’t wearing a bra. Her navy sweatpants were full of holes and soaked through from sitting on the bench in the snowfall, and her Christmas socks were bunched at her ankles.

She scooted down the bench and kept running her fingers through her hair. Harsh, violent gestures, trying to get the tangles out, pulling and ripping at the knots. Linda turned her face up towards the sky, still muttering to herself, clenching her eyes shut tight as the snowflakes brushed her skin.

They were sticking to her eyelashes, landing in her hair, suspended for mere seconds and adorning her like diamonds would adorn royalty. Her cheeks were flushed, pink and pulsing and rubbed, trying to suck warmth out of the frigid sky. She is beautiful, in her own way, he thought. But in a happier, healthier time she would have been lovely.

She smiled and a small, throaty laugh escaped her, unfurling from her mouth in a wispy cloud.

He didn’t want to disturb her, to take away this one moment of peace and perfection. The rarity of these moments made them valuable and precious, gems floating to the surface of a mire of sludge and shadows and brokenness.

He wanted to wait a moment longer, to give her more time. But the system doesn’t give time to those who need it. It is a rigid, cold construct built to fit around a constantly morphing beast it cannot contain. He sighed.

“Linda, can you look at me? I’m Dr. Sand. Do you remember me?”

Linda squeezed her eyes tighter and a pained look passed her face.

“Sand. Sand…” She rolled the word around in her mouth, trying to find something to connect it to.

“Dr. Sand.” He repeated, as kindly as he could. “I see you every week, Linda. We’re quite good friends, you and I.”

She smiled and nodded fervently. “Yes, yes. I know you! Dr. Sand.”

He felt a rush of relief. “Very good, Linda! Now, I know this is beautiful weather, but you must be very cold. Would you like to come inside with me? Your children will be here to visit soon.”

Fear bloomed in a far, unreachable place behind her bluebell eyes. As quickly as it showed its grip, it receded back, cloaked in glossy confusion.

“Children…” She whispered, frowning. He waited, his hands going numb in his pockets. She started picking at the cuffs of her sleeves, which were shredded and limp from countless hours of being torn and pulled and picked at in distress.

Then Linda smiled, a wide, innocent smile and his heart quickened in excitement at her recognition.

“I like the snowflakes.” She said calmly. And then she turned her face towards the sky again and closed her eyes. “Snowflakes are mine.” Her breath fanned out from behind her teeth, a column of smoke melting her beautiful diamonds just moments before they could touch her skin.

There will be no visit today, he mused, and trudging back to the building he left Linda to her snowflakes.

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