We all hide our faces from the cold as we walk from building to building, minutes oozing by like syrup from maple trees. Or maybe it’s just me, my scarf wrapped twice around my neck and my chin buried in the scratchy layers, my eyes watching for ice on the sidewalk. My head is covered from the elements, the rough material catching pieces of my short hair and wreaking invisible havoc there.

No one speaks (I know because I wait, listening), their lips frozen shut in this world of only learning. I keep my hands folded in my pocket, clasped together so I don’t lash out or spin or clap or wave. My legs work furiously and I no longer walk, I charge across campus, running from this icy place because why enjoy this? This is not my life any more than it is yours. I belong to the machine, like a train that chugs around under the dry and brittle Christmas tree, always moving but with no direction, no destination.

When I hit the warmth of my first building, as the heated air pours over me, thaws me, fills my lungs with stuff that doesn’t suffocate, I pull off my scarf and my beanie. In this moment, I pretend I am free.


Smile back

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