I've been back in Denver for a week now.
When I got home, snow was thick on the ground. Last night and today it's been snowing heavily. Then, as now, the pine outside my bedroom window creaked under the weight of the accumulated snow. I wonder if it will snap, if it will buckle under the weight, or if tomorrow it will be standing just as tall as it was on Monday when the sun was bright and warm in a cloudless sky.
I don't honestly remember much of the past week. I've spent most of it in a sort of grey haze. The last clear memory I have is of Montag's face crumpling as he turned from me, his hair too long, dust discoloring one sleeve of his black coat. I stood in the hallway before the security checkpoint for longer than I care to admit staring after him. I didn't even make it through the metal detector without crying.
The world outside is soft and white and quiet. The sky is the color of a pearl. Once, in third grade, we hatched silk worm eggs and waited patiently as the caterpillars gorged themselves on mulberry branches and wrapped themselves into cocoons. We waited patiently. At the end, they chewed their way out of those cocoons and we took them outside and watched them fly away. I was allowed to keep a cocoon. It was the same color inside that the sky is now.
One last thing about flying. On my wrist is a bracelet with a bird charm. Montag gave it to me. The bird is a swallow. When I was a kid in Southern California, we sometimes would drive an hour south to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. Every year the swallows would return in staggering numbers from across impossible distances, compelled towards home.
Montag is my Capistrano.