When she was little, Ashley forgot her mittens on purpose. She’d leave them tucked beneath her pillow on the days her father stayed home from work to take them sledding at Shedd Park. And Dad, he’d always let her borrow his, always with a smile on his face and with a shake of his head.
Ashley put her hands inside her father’s gloves and made the climb to the top of the hill. She dragged her red plastic sled behind her, a length of rough yellow rope clutched her fist, and she dreamed of the moment to come, of the wind whipping at her reddened cheeks as she ripped down the hill. As she dusted herself off, then trudged back up to do it again.
Now, now with her hand resting not inside her father’s glove but in the palm of it, now she dreams of the moment after this one, the moment after her father wipes his tears away, the light brown leather of his glove a dark chocolate where sadness has stained it.
“You lived twenty-four years without me,” she tells him. “I know you can do it again.”
He smiles and shakes his head, but he doesn’t stop crying. He thinks of himself, waiting at the bottom of the hill, waiting for her to make his way back to him. Beaming at her as she skidded to a halt at his feet. Shaking his head as she asked to have one more turn, but saying yes anyway.