Ice

By Heather Osterman-Davis

February 13, 2017

Ice

I’m nine months pregnant with my first child, and the snow in NYC has been beaten into submission. I’ve just come off a packed subway, where I cradled my stomach against elbows and briefcase edges while nobody offered me a seat. I’m trudging towards home when I come to a patch of ice spanning the length of two abandoned store fronts. I'm scanning its mottled surface for a safe route across when I see the two men leaning against the wall. They're dressed in dark, ragged layers and even in the disappearing light it’s apparent that they’ve had a long battle with the elements.

“Evening, mother," one says, lowering a bottle-shaped paper bag to his side.

“Evening,” I nod.

“Be careful on that ice,” the other adds. "People been going down all night. Wouldn’t want to see you fall with those precious goods on board.”

“Thanks,” I say, my hand instinctively going to my belly.

“Boy or girl,” the first one asks.

“Boy.”

“You can take my arm if you want help across,” he says, crooking his elbow as if offering me a dance. "Though I understand if you don’t want me to touch you.”

I tell him thanks but I think I'm okay, before plodding slowly across. When I get to the other side, I turn to say goodnight and find their eyes still on me, as if they’d been waiting to catch me the whole time.

 

 

Comments (13) - Post a Comment
Yes, that is what I need this morning—a reminder of the kindness even in those we think are lost.
Jan Priddy at 8:26am EST - February 13, 2017
The ending made me "catch" my breath.
Margaret Whidden at 8:41am EST - February 13, 2017
Love this. Humanity at its best.
Tracy Line at 8:49am EST - February 13, 2017
It strikes me that not only were the men kind, they paid attention when others did not. Thank you!


Mary at 8:53am EST - February 13, 2017
This is really good. Technically, in terms of clarity and pacing; spiritually, in terms of the arc of life and the paired opposites of "regular" people's mass behavioral unkindness versus "outcasts" who, being on the outside, are apt to see and respond to the individual.
Scott at 11:18am EST - February 13, 2017
Love this-such a tender last image.
Hayley at 11:53am EST - February 13, 2017
Searingly honest and the last image is breath-taking.
Annie at 2:09pm EST - February 13, 2017
Love love love.
Ola at 4:28pm EST - February 13, 2017
Wow! Powerful. Thank you.
Vana Plaisance at 8:19pm EST - February 13, 2017
Dear Ms. Osterman-Davis,

I read the posts here every Monday morning. I have submitted a couple. I think yours might be the best I have read. While I have responded to others for their decoration or sentiment or charm, for bringing a vision new to my eyes, you have accomplished something rare.

I shared the brief narrative with my writing students and also with my Scrabble buddy, who is not easy to impress. You should know I have never seen her cry before.

It is a good thing to recognize compassion in others.
Jan Priddy at 11:39am EST - February 21, 2017
I just wanted to thank every one for reading and your kind comments. And Jan thank you for sharing it further, that's quite a gift and made my morning.
Heather at 7:31am EST - February 22, 2017
I just wanted to thank every one for reading and your kind comments. And Jan thank you for sharing it further, that's quite a gift and made my morning.
Heather at 7:31am EST - February 22, 2017
Beautifully written and moving. Thank you!
Susan Cole at 9:23am EST - March 7, 2017


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