I handed Shannon some hand warmers I’d saved from my time in the army. They were little white pouches that heated to the warmth of a fire. Those warmers had kept my hands from frostbite more times than I could count.
“More wine,” she said, twisting the cap off and tilting her head back.
“Shannon,” I said, nudging her shoulder.
“This better be important,” she said, pulling the blankets below her eyes.
“I saw the pregnancy test.”
“Looking through my things again?” Shannon shouted.
“You lost it?”
“I got rid of it,” she said, pulling the covers over her eyes, turning her body away.
“Don’t get all self-righteous on me.”
“When were you gonna tell me?”
“They’re not coming, are they?”
“Was it a boy or a girl?”
“Does it matter?” I felt her sniffles through my skin. I felt horrible for bringing it up, but what else was I supposed to do? I could only avoid it for so long. It was eating me inside. Shannon being pregnant pulled something in my father figure heart. I hadn’t had a father, so being one meant everything to me. Taking the kid to walk, to drive, & the kind of guy to date was all that I needed. I choked back a lump in my throat and wiped a tear before it fell.
“Why don’t you get some rest,” I said. “The morning crew should arrive in a few hours.” The sunrise whipped through the left before I could feel it touch my skin.
“Over here! Damn you,” Shannon said, waving at the snowplow driver, who can’t possibly see us from his distance. “Don’t leave! No, damn it!” The driver had headphones on and didn’t lift his head to the sound of our screams.
“Where’s everyone at?” I rubbed my eyes and sprung to my feet. It was as dead as last night.
“I can’t do another night out here,” Shannon said. “The workers can’t see us and we’re missing Christmas.” Shannon had a big family who loved to celebrate holidays. Any Holiday was cause for a celebration at her house. Shannon had the kind of family that everyone wants to have. If you’ve seen the movie This Christmas, you’ll feel the comfort and closeness of the family and begin to have a warm feeling about a tight-knit family that clearly loves each other and functions as a family unit.
“I dozed off, but in my defense, I’d been up all night.”
“See, not responsible enough to be a father—”
“Like your father—”
“Leave my father out of this.”
Another snowplow pushes snow from the parking lot.
“Doesn’t see us, does he?”
I drew a deep breath and blew out a sharp sigh. “How could he possibly see us from there?” I snapped.
The sun withdrew what little heat it yielded. The night snuggled against the clouds as darkness hung over the moon. Great, another night of hearing her tell me about how I’m a fuck up, and everything is my fault. And her wealthy brothers are gonna kick my ass for getting their little sister stuck on a ski lift.
Shannon twisted the cork, swigging wine from the bottle. “Merry Christmas,” she said, holding the bottle in the air.
“Merry Christmas,” I said, looking away.
“Looks like we’re here for another night,” Shannon said, sliding to the floor.
“We only have five more hand warmers,” I said, counting them.
“See, too irresponsible to be a father.”
“Like this is my—”
“I couldn’t have a kid, not now, not ever.”
“You didn’t ask.”
“Shouldn’t have to!”
“It’s not fair.”
“Life isn’t fair,” Shannon said.
“What would you know about life?” I said loud enough to echo. “Daddy has paid for everything.”
“So, it’s my fault you grew up poor?”
“That’s not what I said.”
“Can’t just be happy I’m with you, can you?”
“I’m tired of trying to be what you want instead of what I need,” I say, almost as if to counsel my soul.
“I loved you when you weren’t trying to be someone else,” Shannon said, pulling the covers over her ears. I pile blankets and warm packets on her body. The heat warmed her body like a fireplace.
“Go back to the old you; the person I fell in love with.”
“Oh…fuck, you and your family have tried to change me since—”
“Don’t bring my family into this!”
I pull a blanket to my chin, keeping watch for someone…anyone.
“Not asleep, are you?” I asked.
“How the hell could I sleep.”
Shannon pushed her body to a sitting position, drinking more wine, and eating trail mix. Those raisins, M&Ms, and peanuts tasted better than nothing.
“You know, I shouldn’t have said—”
“Let’s not go there,” I said, gesturing as if I’d already lost, not wanting to go for another round.
“I had the abortion because I didn’t think I could—”
“You didn’t ask.”
“Shouldn’t have to,” Shannon said, drinking half the bottle.
“You remember last Christmas?”
“What about it?”
“We said if we were still together, we’d get—”
“Not now,” Shannon said.
“We’d get married.”
My eye slam open. “Shannon,” I said, pushing her body. “You OK?”
Shannon’s ghost pale skin didn’t sit well with me. I knew she was close to death or giving up or both. I didn’t want to be the one to tell her father she was dead. She can’t die. Anything to save my ass.
“Coronavirus?” I joked.
“So not even funny,” she said. “I feel so weak.”
I didn’t want to tell her how awful she looked. I mean, she was horrible for not telling me she was pregnant, but I tried to push that out of my head. She coughed and coughed. I wrapped her in a military-style heating blanket I’d found at the bottom of my bag.
“Not coming, are they?”
I glanced at her and turned back to the resort. I didn’t see anyone at the lodge. No one doing anything. It was like a ghost town. I tried to bat a tear back, but the squeeze only made one tear turn into several. I’d fucked it up again. Everything I’ve ever done has been a fuck up and now I’m going to be responsible for someone’s death. I couldn’t allow this to happen. I mean, what if some overzealous prosecutor charges me with manslaughter or something?
“I can’t make it another night,” Shannon said.
“You’re not dying on me.”
“I’m sorry about the abortion.”
“You’re gonna make it through.”
The daylight brought little comfort with the sun hanging between the clouds and melting a snowless sky between which the air stood still, no wind today. No sound at all.
The screaming in my head had replaced last night’s flurries. I keep my eyes peeled for any sign of life. Terror seized my body as the lift jerked as if wind lifting Shannon’s ponytail on our first date—calm yet annoying. I pace and build the courage to jump from the lift. If we don’t get help soon, Shannon’s going to die.