My feet sank into the open holes two at a time and locked into place. I lifted the soft polyester past my knees and up to my waist, feeling each inch cling and squeeze until I couldn’t bend anymore. Suspenders fit over my young shoulders, assuring that I could roll around in the cold for hours and remain unscathed. After I fitted myself with the hat and gloves left on the heater from the day before, I escaped into the light.

I hated the kids who wore jeans in the snow. Sure, they wore a layer of long johns and another of regular sweats underneath and swore they would be fine, but they always quickly gave in to hot chocolate and video games. Just the day before, I spent an hour designing and building a snowboard ramp with a denim clad friend, only to jump it by myself for 15 minutes until boredom took over and I left. I couldn’t trust them, so today I decided to go it alone.

The blizzard from the night before generously blanketed the yard and roads with enough snow to stop the small town country busses long enough for the local news to catch wind and declare our freedom. Drifts pushed piles of only the best packing snow next to trees, stumps and hills, creating prime conditions for a snow fortress. Choosing the best foundation required meticulous attention to detail. Too steep and the hole could only be so wide, too shallow and the hole could only be so deep. After careful examination, a small hill appeared to have caught an impressively balanced mound. I speared my fingers into oblivion and started digging.

Proper fort building snow doesn’t pepper off like sand, but compacts into neat little heaps that serve to remove easily and gel around newly formed strongholds. Due to good fortune and impeccable planning, I disappeared—almost entirely—within the mound in a manner of minutes. Though a dim light from the clouded sky snuck in, when enveloped within the icy fort, the wind and the world ceased. At once, I noticed to myself that escaping into the cold is actually remarkably warm. I figured that, even if I had worn jeans, I could survive comfortably tucked away.

As I sat reclined with my back against a rounded wall and my legs fully extended, nothing moved. The air, though surprisingly warm, nearly froze. My breaths paused at my lips, retreated back into my lungs, and repeated consecutively. I stared at my feet, admiring the odd serenity of my formidable construction, just as I noticed a dull rumble outside. Unsure if it just began or always was, I reasoned my options and determined that digging deeper was indeed the safest plan of action.

At first, the snow moved like blocks of ice, with each chunk needing laborious attention, but there was no immediate rush. The rumble was soft and, despite the difficulty, the worked seemed curiously like play. Each foot I descended meant one more to brag about to the jean kids, but the rumbling continued, actually increasing in volume and vibration. To ignore the distraction, I carefully plugged the hole and packed it tight. The only light now seeped unwillingly through the fort’s thin crust roof.

By now, the snow moved much easier, but my makeshift sound buffer struggled to reduce the increasing violence outside. There would be no escape, I decided, and panic set in. I dug furiously downward thinking that I would reach ground and feel anchored once again, but the ground never came. Like the world outside, it disappeared or eluded me. In desperation, I vigilantly packed each new handful of snow at the top, hoping to drown out the noise and protect myself from whatever biblical catastrophe occurred outside. With the increasing darkness returned comfortable stillness and a sense of safe familiarity—an escape from imminent and uncertain obliteration.

There I sat content in a drift upon a mound; a slight, unnoticeable depression upon a disaster upon a world of which I ingeniously escaped. For now, though time stood still with my feet and my breath, I was secure from the rumbling above. My snow pants and snow ceiling kept my warm. I didn’t know if a mug of hot chocolate waited for me on the kitchen table or if the world I loved cosmically vanished, but I liked the unmovable stillness—I decided to stay.

Snow Hole



Wind Power


50 feet above our heads, perfect blades chopped through the open air. We sat far enough from the freeway that the low hum of wind on metal resonated. “I feel so small,” she always said to me, and so I felt, sitting illegally in a long since harvested corn field, deep into a damp spring with her by my side. I tried to enjoy feeling invisible, even though I knew that the last time we kissed, I would disappear entirely.

If you look west from I-75 south about two miles from exit 181, beyond the horizon of Midwest agriculture turns a set of light grey windmills. They are not a secret, though finding them while returning to school initiates me into the exclusive many who care to search. They used to welcome me home, but now each turn is a perpetual reminder that, while they are dwarfed by their surroundings from a distance, up close they truly are giants.

People I pretend to trust tell me to let go. They point out the obvious–that I’m picky and idealistic. “You just need to take a leap of faith,” they repeat over holiday meals. Apparently, there are a slew of actions I “just need to take” in order to curb their judgment of my love life. What they don’t care enough to find out is that I’m too crippled to leap, and that I left my faith in a muddy field of Bowling Green, Ohio, along with my idealistic dreams of overwhelmingly irrational love.

I took a walk with her once, down a snow covered path plowed by the footsteps of those who, like me, droned through life often without looking. She pointed to a lone tree in the middle of a snow covered canvass which felled the tree and made it stand like a meticulous binary painting on the wall. When she wanted to escape, she told me, she would sit under that tree and marvel at how easy hiding in plain sight could be. Out there, she became merely part of the scenery–an illusion important to no one but those who cared enough to look closely. I always noticed her most when she shrank, or I looked more closely. In ether case, my dreams stood high on easels, then disappeared at every turn.

I took her to the windmills to shrink, hoping that if we were close enough, we might lose ourselves together in the same impervious image. We sat at the base, staring up at the blades, listening to the low hum and saying nothing. Her perfume sparked the towers to life. I tried to hide with her. I tried to protect her from giants and from feeling small and from those who couldn’t find her when she did. I kissed her, dropped her off, and shriveled out of existence.