We were driving south on the A5 and the snow began to fall, at first in huge flakes that seemed made by small children with round-tipped scissors, but as the miles flicked by the flakes got smaller, and fell much more thickly, and mixed with the gray of the sky and the gray-green of the winter valley landscape and our headlamps worked to cut a tunnel through the darkness.
The goal was a Christmas party outside of Omagh, people neither of us had seen in years, and we were coming together not just for ride-sharing but to add confusion to the rumors about what she and I were or were not doing together at this point in our lives. Maybe though, maybe, as we listened to the CDs she had burned just for today's trip, old songs that had us both singing outloud, it was we who were getting confused.
In the US I would drive easily through this kind of storm, but in this evening in this place everything seemed both more distant and more fragile, and when we got to Strabane, the snow and ice piling onto the pavements, we looked at each other and I suddenly steered the car to the right, a crazed move that left oncoming traffic sliding to avoid us, and crossed this point where the Rivers Mourne and Finn marry to become the Foyle, and drove into Lifford. In the back of the ancient courthouse we found an unexpectedly fine and romantic Italian restaurant, I had a carbonara and she a lasagna, and we told each other tales and laughed so hard that we cried.
When we walked back out to the car through the swirling white cloud we had already made the unspoken decision. And we crossed the rivers again, and drove to the one open and obvious area hotel, and found our shelter from the storm.
copyright 2006 by Ira Socol