It's dark outside and I'm standing on my bed peering out the only window in my room cursing the winter weather, I can still remember how much I wished it would snow at Christmas when I was a child I wanted to see the thick flakes of snow falling from the sky with ice crystals on the windows.
On the nights leading up to Christmas I would lie in bed impatiently staring into the darkness, although I wished for it from the bottom of my heart it never snowed on Christmas, not once, and now today's weather is making up for all those Christmases without snow.
Houses, cars and street lamps disappear behind at whiling white curtain, I can't see the pavement or the road. All I can see are the eerie shadows of the tree tops, they move their branches as though they are arms waving from the bottom of the sea.
It's six o'clock Christmas day, a fairytale winter scene, the snow is slowly piling up and soon it will cover up my window.
My room is in the basement and there is only one tiny window about the size of a shoe box.
"Shit" I say "It's never going to stop"
"If it doesn't stop we'll do it some other time" says Frank
He makes it sound like a question, I can hear him breathing into the phone,
I don't say anything I lay back down on my bed and press my face into the pillows, I can still hear Frank breathing in my ear, of coarse we could do it some other time I just want to do it now.
"It might stop soon" Frank is trying to calm me down
I open my eyes again and lift my head
"I don't think so"
Frank sighs loudly
"You don't have to come" I say "It's okay if you-"
"I've been every year for the past three years Gerard" He interrupts "no matter what the weather"
"Will you pick me up?" he asks
"I'll pick you up"
Silence. He is waiting for me to as goodbye, I'm waiting for him to change his mind.
"I'm not changing my mind" says Frank
"Right. I'll see you later then" I say, and hang up.
I shouldn't be so rude to him.
He is just trying to help, It's just a hard time of the year.
The hardest part was keeping my eyes open until midnight and my temper down. I was tired of eating and talking. I was also tired of my little brother, Mikey. I love him very much, but he'd been getting on my nerves for the previous two hours. Nobody wanted to play with him; no body wanted to try out his new toys.
'Go to Gerard" my mother kept saying.
Me of all people. Thanks very much. I'd been thinking about nothing but the weather all day, but that's over now.
I'm laying in bed, listening to the snow falling against my window and I'm finally calm inside.
I rub my eyes and yawn, the clock says 11.56pm there are no more voices upstairs, no more lights on. Christmas is over, finally.
I swing my legs out of bed and get dressed. I put a torch, a lighter and box of cigarettes into my coat pockets, I tiptoe up the stairs, through the living room, down the hall and out the front door with my boots in my hand.
I finally take a deep breath once I'm out on the porch, I sit on the step, pull on my boots and tie the laces. If my mother knew what I was doing she would be after me in a shot and if my stepfather knew he'd be right behind her trying to prevent the worst.
I wrap my scarves more tightly around my neck, pull on my gloves, walk down the drive and step out onto the foot path.
I'm alone. There are no people, no cars, no tracks on the white carpet of snow. The air is bitterly clear, the snow crunches under my boots. I look up at the sky, flakes of snow spin towards the ground towards me as though they have traveled miles just to say hello. I pull my hood on to prevents my ears from freezing and cross the road.
My father died three and a half years ago crossing a road.
I was one of those rainy summer days you welcome because they make the heat bearable for a couple of hours. I was 14 years old at the time, I was sitting in a cafe with my parents and Mikey, my Dad noticed an old friend across the road.
He ran out into the rain and called his name, I remember the man turning around and looking surprised and I still remember my father waving and hunching his shoulders before he crossed the road, then a truck went through a red light and I saw everything.
For a while I felt as though I had lost him completely, that was a long time ago.
Now I know that he's always with me. Nothing can erase him from my memory, that's why I'm cursing at the winter tonight and fighting my way through the snow. It isn't easy sharing your life with a dead person. But it's alto better than forgetting somebody and carrying on with your own life as there's just been a commercial break and not much else has happened.
Frank lives about 10 minutes away from me in a house that used to belong to his grandparents. There is a phone box at the end of the street. I have to force the doors open because of all the snow piling around it. My fingers are so cold and I am shaking, I can barely pull out the change from my pocket, I should really stop cutting the ends off my gloves.
Frank picks up on the sixth ring.
"Gerard?" He sounds scared
"Yes, Are you okay Frankie?"
"Just a bad dream, Where are you?
"Phone box, hurry up I'm freezing"
Frank doesn't respond, I think he took that comment the wrong way.
"So, are you coming?
I could have worded that better
"Uh. Yeah just, Uh I will be down there in a few minutes"
That had been sufficiently awkward.