We’re parked in the middle of a snow-packed lane where treetops threaten telephone lines. Branches on both sides of the truck are knuckle-twisted and braided in ice. The headlights cushion my father’s draped body, but somewhere down the dark road, light, trees, and wire disappear. It’s midnight and Dad is taking pictures. He’s buried under a darkcloth as if that were enough to keep him warm.
Mom keeps track of time, and worries. The Ford pickup has gone dead before, so she hastily looks over to the dash as the light dims, then revives—bright, yellow, and safe. This is Utah and it’s cold in winter, especially winter at midnight. Even I know how fast a person can die from exposure and I’m just a kid. The heater doesn’t work so well, and the passenger side window has a crack in the glass, big enough to hear the mournful wind whistle. I am mostly warm except for my feet—which I’ve given up on—and my face, which I can sink into Mom’s lap anytime. She is not patient and firmly presses my shoulder back toward the seat so I’ll go to sleep. I get bored, pop up. She warns me with a clamped-jaw sigh, an airy whistle from her nose, and I lie down to be good. I stare at the pedals, which I know are dirty from my father’s boot. I am restless and can’t help myself: Pop-goes-the-weasel.
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