Muted grey and dark red tones, a meter away, face me as I open my blurry eyes. Bright, white pinpricks of snow are falling and hitting my exposed face, each one like a needle. I manage to twitch my numb fingers. Ears stovetop-red, with a violent, yet weak effort I push my arms through the snow that covered my body. I shake my head, receiving a downpouring of fluffy snow, the snow shimmering in the light from the end of the alley. I look down at my arm, sleeved in a thick, black winter jacket, numb. I shakily push myself up to stand, looking down both sides of the alleyway in which I woke up. I see a tall, dark wooden fence blocking my right side and the familiar streets of the busy, crowded downtown marketplace on my left.

The sky above me is a light shade of grey and dotted with stars, a sky filled with lights.

Walking out into the lively street, shop windows were decorated with advertisements and products, along with bright red and green lights and streamers. Busy parents bustled around the street looking for gifts and commodities to bring home for the holidays. I limped over to a window, a spacious restaurant. In the glass window, behind the words advertising the restaurant, I see a young couple, laughing, eating and enjoying their time together.

Walking out past the restaurants, I arrive at the end of the marketplace: Up ahead the last streetlight flickers, and I peer inside a dark, dingy, closed fashion store. I gaze at sullen-looking, lifeless mannequins dressed in flashy outfits. In the corner of the display crawls a tiny spider, slowly spinning its web, and I stay there for a while, watching the spider.

Moving past the store, I take a slow seat on the community bench, still feeling quite numb. The bench appeared frail and rickety through years of wear and tear.

I watch the flickering lamp post and gaze towards the dark edge of the street, a dark grassy field, but of course, that was all covered in snow.

I watch as a small squirrel, cheeks filled, dashes across the empty road and hops into the snow.

I close my eyes and wait, leaning against the seat.

I listen to the cold, rushing, howling sound coming from the wind. Heavy snowfall showers me.

Slipping away, my body gives out and I collapse to the bottom of the bench as snow gathers around my body, burying me.

The last lamp post on the road flickers erratically and eerily. It pauses twice before the light is finally extinguished.

Photo: Egor Kamelev on