The snow was late again this year, the soil frozen brick, waiting for its soft blanket. That young
meteorologist from the city corrected us. It is never too cold to snow. Just too dry. Well, that fit,
too. We knew what must be done. As usual, we let Death think it was his idea. Come dusk, we left
him a good bottle of port on the stoop in front of the Dead Letter Office with Thanks for the
memories in a florid, spidery script. It might have been from anyone dead. As usual, he took the
bait. Found the key under the mat, took the stairs down into the vault, sat in the leather recliner,
surrounded by papers and dust. Poured himself a drink. His bone finger traced the name on each
envelope. He tore up bills, threw them up into the air like confetti, had another drink. Read love
letters, divorce papers, the occasional returned manuscript. Cried, and drank, and cried some more.
We knew what he wanted, but it wasn’t in our power to give. What we could do we did. By the
time those dry bones were thoroughly soused, our roads and fields were covered in white. Then
we would carry Death gently, passed out on the sleigh, to the town cemetery, to the casket reserved
just for him. As usual, when the sun came up he was gone, and the casket went back to the vault.
We knew he would show up again. We were no longer sure of the snow.