One Degree and Partly Cloudy

Walter woke slowly and turned upon his side. He placed himself so that he could see the time as he opened his eyes. The clock read 8:58 am. Once again, he had survived another night. He took a deep breath, stretched out his ribs and lungs, and shivered the cobwebs from inside his chest. Walter wanted the machine pulled out and running efficiently again. He reached across the bed, picked up his cell phone, and checked the weather. The forecast told him it was one degree and partly cloudy.

For a few weeks, the days had been gently getting longer. The Sunrise that day was at 7:33 am. Within an hour and 25 minutes, the light was shining through the window on him in a way that he felt a certain optimism wrapped in a little bit of melancholy. He had made it to another day. The only person that could make this day a bad one would be him.

Walter pulled the bedsheets back and put his feet on the floor. He prepared himself for another day. His feet were cold. With his first few steps of the day, gravity could be cruel. By the time he got to the shower, his feet were working fine.

He took the leash from the hook beside the door and placed it around Charlie. The man and his dog stepped out through the door and walked down the stairs, onto the sidewalk. They opened the door, and the activity of the day was like a bright sea of noise.

They walked by a phone booth that had been on the corner for a very long time, since the phone numbers started with letters. Walter questioned how much longer the relic would be there. The time of the phone booth had passed. At its best, it was Superman’s change room. At its worst, it was a toilet.

A bus passed by Walter, mere feet away from him. The bus braked to a full stop as the rear-mounted engine made a home right beside him. Exhaust was blowing in his face. The dog was taking a piss, and he could not walk away. It had been years since he lived on the farm, but the smell of exhaust took him right back. Walter remembered why he left. One second of memory contained years of emotion, choking him to a time when he was a different person.

After living in the city for so long, every intersection remained a memory for Walter. Every storefront was a remembrance. Every park was a recollection. He realized that the days before outnumbered the days ahead. They say that time is the fire in which we burn. Walter felt like his fire was burning down to embers.

He could not remember when this feeling started. One day, he noticed that he had more memories than dreams. He had done everything he set out to do. The only thing left to do was to consider the memories he had collected.

It was late January, and surprisingly the weather had turned. It seemed like Spring, but that was a lie. The feeling of Spring was a lie, and everyone was aware of it. Everyone knew that Winter still had life, and was ready to make a last desperate stand, to invade their bones with cold and cover their land with snow.

Now though, the Sun was soft with the way it laid its beams upon everyone, rousing them from a cold slumber. It coaxed them to vital reverence for breath and life. It kissed them softly on the cheek and awakened them from their icy hibernation.

So for that day, they all lounged in the lie. They all believed. They chose to act as though spring had come, and the outdoors belonged to them again. The buses were full. People on the sidewalks had shuffled along. Tiny dots of people appeared in such a way that if you looked from above, they were textbook examples of fluid dynamics.

Walter was one of those little dots that day. He chose to walk. He walked in the sunlight, sure to walk on the side of the street that the Sun was shining on. It would have been a crime for someone to walk in the shade that day. He walked. And, he walked.

He walked in the sunlight so fast that a small layer of perspiration came to his forehead, until his legs ached and his muscles became tense, with the intention that every step was producing an energy that would keep the Sun from setting ahead of him.

His effort was futile. The Sun refused to stay above him. Slowly it moved in front of him, showing him its intentions. The Sun had no desire to shine its light upon him until he asked it to go away. It was going to go away on its terms, exactly when it wanted to. Slowly it moved in front of him, creeping towards the horizon until it finally disappeared over the edge, leaving him in a wash of coldness. Warmth dispersed from his bones, permitting the coldness in.