The city turned white, for the snow had been coming down non-stop for two days and a night. When it finally did stop, the temperature dipped so low that the air itself was about to freeze.
He stayed home till boredom nearly killed him. He wasn’t the type who could watch TV for endless hours, and his weak eyes didn’t allow him to read for long. Then he listened to the radio, to audiobooks and to podcasts till he could not listen to anything any more.
On the fourth day he told himself, “Will I let the snow and cold beat me after all these years?”
He put on his long underwear and on top of it, as many layers of clothes as he could, and opened the door, saying, “Here we go!”
The streets were nearly empty and the sidewalks were deserted, for they were like desert paths full of small and larger dunes – of snow, not sand – but none of this stopped him. He walked and walked; walked as fast as his body would allow him, for the years had taken their toll.
He did not know how long he walked, as the brisk walk made him feel warmer and it was easier to be outside than he expected. He had no destination or aim other than to escape his loneliness, and this was better than being locked up in his tiny apartment.
Yet when the sun dropped lower on the horizon and the wind picked up a bit, the cold started seeping into his bones again. Feeling like he needed to pee, he decided to turn back.
He took a different return route. In one of the side streets he chose, snow removal trucks, plows and tractors of different sizes were relentlessly moving back and forth, so he stopped at an intersection to wait for a safe moment to cross.
Feeling colder by the minute, he got impatient and started waving repeatedly to the driver of a large snowplow that blocked his path. When the driver nodded to him, he proceeded as fast as he could.
Then there was a loud thump.
“How did I get here?” The sandy beach was exactly as he remembered it (or imagined it) from his childhood years, infinitely empty after the last of the resort’s cabins were behind him. He was walking alone. He met no one, nor did he see any building on his path. Only the sea to his left and the sand dunes to his right.
He walked for hours but did not feel tired. Neither did he find the sun too hot or the breeze any colder than what felt adequately refreshing. Even the brightness of the sun hovering motionless above the sea’s surface did not bother his eyes. The only thing that occupied his thoughts was this infinite emptiness. He couldn’t get it off his mind. When he spent the summers here as a kid, the population of this old country was less than a third of what it was now; and he had often heard in the decades he lived abroad that dozens of new resorts had been built on the shores of the Mediterranean. So, how come this old resort was never extended nor were any new ones built next to it on these ideal shores?
He said to himself, “I’m not turning back till I find someone to ask or I reach another resort or town.”
After countless hours of walking, he still met no one; and even stranger, he did not feel tired, hungry, thirsty, or even the need to pee.
The snowplow driver was motionless in his seat, seemingly in shock.
An ambulance siren was heard from a distance.
A small crowd gathered (no one knew from where) around a small snowplow in front of which lay what seemed to be an unidentifiable mass in a pile of snow.
Someone said, “He was crossing in front of that big snowplow when this one came speeding from the far side and hit him. It pushed him for two or three meters before it could stop.”
On closer examination, one could see that the mass in the snow was a person. A small pool of blood had formed next to it, contrasting with the white surface.
Another voice said, “No doubt he’s dead.”