Outside of James's southern window is snow: scattered, piled, drifts. It is imaginary snow, of course, but it's what he sees when he feels desperate or nervous. Sometimes the hot summer sky turns blizzard and he can't even make out the street below. He pulls imagery from memory, taste of a different coast, taste of cold and snow, and he blends this memory into present. Imposes it over present. But he does not think about this operation any longer: now when he feels a certain way, a certain range of ways, he looks out the window and it is snow. And sometimes he feels chilled enough to put on a sweater, or on exceptional occasions, a coat.
And so James did not stir from his sleep last night while he watched himself throw snowballs with M in the street below. She was bundled, as a novice to cold would be bundled, the scarf so tight around the throat that if she was not dream imagery she might struggle for air. But she is dream imagery and so not only did she not gasp to inhale air, her exhaled hot breath shot an exaggerated three feet or so in front of her body. And not in puffs. More continuous, as if breathing has become entirely exhale to her. Like the stream above a sewer grate. An impolite analogy, but apt.
James and M stood a half block or so apart, facing each other. Muffled words were also thrown that they both had no trouble deciphering. The occasional nod or hand wave. And then a continuous barrage of snow in both directions. James always tossing short of target, as if a force field drops his bombs at her feet. M always tossing long. Some majestic launching strikes - five stories high? Ten? And her so small from the aerial view, but a tiny little launcher from James's window, where, of course, he watches himself and M snow fight. Snow play? He thinks they look happy, that he and she look happy. But she is so tightly bundled and his snow keeps falling short and so he beats on the window, first slowly, then rapidly, first with fingers, then with fists. He can't be sure of what he witnesses and he can't make them look up. They are oblivious. Again, James is but a spectator of his own events.
What James notices last is L taking notes on the sofa, in that furiously rapid manner of hers - the little fingers blurring across the page or keypad, this time page, her lips moving at similar speed to her fingers, words come, crisp words that James so wants to hear, but he can not. Her words sail all around him like M's snowballs sail over his head below, and James knows that if he could just hear what L is saying then everything will be Okay, everything in his life will fall into order. Everything. He also knows that if he would just stop pounding on the window he could hear L, clearly. But he can not corral himself. Can not harness this overwhelming need to pound on the window, to make those below him in the snow see him, listen to what he must tell them so their snow would reach each other, so they can play this game correctly. L becomes but a distraction, an annoyance, and then a greater urgency arrives like the flush of a nice belt of bourbon and so he pounds faster and harder, of course it seems he should have shattered the window by this point, but it is a dream and sometimes dream windows are not made of glass. Eventually L was no more upon the couch. It was if she was never there, as if she never said a word. But L was there. James woke knowing L was there. More importantly, M knows it. And that is when M unraveled her scarf and tossed it like a lasso in James's direction.