|August 2001 / Volume Two / Issue Two|
The children make paths in the snow. You find them on evening, lumbering home, a string of narrow trails angling across the fields. At your back is a strip mall; ahead, a housing project. You shift your shopping bags into an opposite hand, shiver into your clothes.
While it would be simpler to follow one of these paths— the snow being deep, your shoes thin and cut close to the heel— you do not. Setting towards them, you notice the footprints that comprise these lanes. All under size, they encircle storybook figures and concentric patterns, corporate logos, jingles, emblems of trade. For a time, you stoop to study them. Turning westward, you watch as the sun bleeds down the tree line, muttering snatches of song.
There is caution in this. The paths blur across the field like horizoned towers, each a flat and frozen Babel. You begin to back away, seek another route, but there is no other route, no reason to your fear. Your pace quickens, jets of steam rise to the night.
On occasion, you’ve caught sight of children. Never immobile, you witness nimble forms ducking behind buildings— the edges of backpacks, ski caps, sharpened sticks. Sometimes, having suspended small animals from posts, they are in flight. The creatures dangle from the looped ends of wire and string, their eyes swollen and fixed to the sun. You wish to cut them down, perform hasty burials, but from the periphery observe camouflaged arms disappear into black oaks. The children are dressed for warfare. You close the blade of your knife, slide it back to its place.
If there was a means of reasoning, establishing territory and truce. If there was means of deciding their place, confining them to it. If there was hope they would be covered by snowfall, cut adrift in a sea of white.
The children run in packs. They hurl stones at glass and carve their language into timber. The chase one another madly into suburban woods, abandoned buildings, construction sites. They are not to be loved or trusted. You will see them in dreams, their eyes hideous, their mouths frozen in attitudes of delight. They make paths in the snow. Fly them.
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