It was very dark and the wind blew one evening on the farm where he had grown up. His son’s dog had disappeared a few days prior, and John Thornhill succumbed to the emotion he had hidden while inside the house. His body’s natural heat was the only thing that kept the tear that descended down his cheek from instantly freezing. He knew his nightly walks to look for the dog were to be completely without fruit. Still, the fresh cold air felt good, and the walks served well the purpose of affirming to his son, Arnie, that there was still hope for finding the dog. More than anything though, John needed time to himself.
On this particular night he’d decided to walk north, behind the family home, away from the reassuring lights, the hum of the furnace. North; even farther away from town, his workplace, the school, the courthouse, responsibility. That dog could have ended up anywhere, but in John’s mind, only in the desolate plain, leading to the mountains and the his country’s border, as far north as one could go, only, here could that dog still exist. He felt so strongly the immense sadness that his family had imagined their dog must be feeling without them. Being alone in that plain forced him to feel it himself. He knew the dog wouldn’t come back, and they would all soon go about their lives. Guilt, that’s the strongest emotion he felt when safe in the house. But alone on the plain he felt empathy, and mostly sadness, and that, is all he wanted to feel. At least for now.
The plain behind John’s family farm was devoid of vegetation even in the warmest months, but in January, it was a beautiful white sheet of glitter by day, and dark void by night. The smooth snowy surface had gone untouched until now, shattered under John’s boots as he traveled north. He held out his phone in front of him using it’s flash as a guide traveled further and further from his home. The chill of the night air made breathing unpleasant as he increased his speed. He’d learned long ago that you can put on layers and layers of the warmest fabrics, and all but banish the cold from your body, but as long you were forced to breath, the cold would find you.