We left the expressway at Columbia Road as the day finished furling up into a sky which was now the color of plum skin. The snow kept falling weakly, as if it couldn’t commit. We turned left on Dot Avenue as lights came on in the three-deckers and the bars and the senior citizens’ home and the corner stores. I’d like to say I found a sublime beauty in it all, but I didn’t.
And yet, this life we’d built filled our car.
I saw our street in the distance, and I didn’t want to pull up in front of our house and let this moment empty from the car. I wanted to keep driving. I wanted everything to stay exactly as it was right now.
But I did turn.
When we got out of the car, Gabby grabbed Bubba’s hand and led him toward the house so she could take him down to the cellar. Last year we’d answered her incessant queries about how Santa could enter a house with no chimney by assuring her that in Dorchester, he came through the cellar. So she’d enlisted Bubba to help her lay out the milk and cookies.
“Beer, too,” Bubba said as they reached the house. “He likes beer. And he doesn’t turn his nose up at vodka.”
“Watch that,” Angie called as we went to the back of the Jeep for the luggage. “That’s my child you’re corrupting.”
A snowflake fell on my cheekbone and instantly melted and Angie wiped at it with her finger. She kissed my nose. “Great to see you.”
She took my burned hand in hers, looked at the large Band-Aid I’d placed across the palm. “You okay?”
“Sure,” I said. “Don’t I look okay?”
She peered into my eyes, this gorgeous, volatile, hyper-passionate woman I’ve been in love with since second grade. “You look great. You just look, I dunno, pensive.”
I pulled Angie’s bags out of the back. “Something occurred to me today while I was sitting by the river, throwing away a five-hundred-dollar gun.”
I closed the hatch. “My blessings outweigh my regrets.”
She cocked her head and gave me a crooked smile as the snow found her hair. “Really?”
“Then you won, babe.”
I sucked in a breath of snow and cold air. “For now.”
“Yeah.” She held my gaze. “For now.”
I slung one bag over my shoulder and lifted the other with my right hand. My injured left hand I closed over my wife’s and we walked up the small brick path to our home.