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The sky was grey as the wind whipped up the freshly fallen snow. The sidewalk felt like a tunnel with the icy snow drifts piled on either side of my usual route to and from work. I knew every crack and crevasse in the sidewalk, and all the faces of the people I saw on my daily trek but today was different. The snow was unexpected and came with a ferocity that the town had never witnessed before. My path that was usually flooded with familiar faces was now barren of any life.
That was until I saw him. A seemingly lifeless man was partially buried in the side of a small mountain of snow. Ice frosted his features as he laid there still like a carved ice sculpture.
My ringing phone startled me out of my thoughts "Hello?" I ask, never breaking my gaze away from the man's face.
"Hi sweetie, I was just calling to see if you wanted to come over for dinner tomorrow night. I know you're busy with work. I just like to see my child's face every now and then." My mother's voice rang on the other end of the phone.
The severity of the man's condition finally hit me “Uh yeah sure I'll be there. I have to go, I'll call you back later. Love you, bye." I hung up the phone and shoved it in my pocket as I cautiously crept over to the man in the ice.
"Hey, you can't stay there. You'll freeze to death," I said, slowly squatting down in front of him.
“You gotta wake up. It's not safe,” I continue.
Still no response.
I stand back up and look around for help but to no avail. The town is a barren waste land because of the storm. I guess it’s up to me to figure something out.
I nudge the man's leg that protrudes from the snow bank. “Sir, you need to get inside and warm up,” I say a little louder than before.
With that, his eyes flutter open. Thousands of emotions seemed to cross his face but the one that stuck out the most was fear. I hesitantly moved to help him out of the snow and stood him up.
“Hi, I’m Lyanna, what’s your name?” I chimed.
“ It’s, uh, Michael. I think,” he contemplates.
“Where do you live? Or are you visiting family? I don’t recognize you; if you lived here, I’d know your face?” I ramble.
He chuckles and rubs the back of his head. “I don’t think so—all I remember is being on a road trip with some buddies of mine.” He looks around confused. “I think we got here Sunday but, god, I have a killer headache,” he says wincing and rubbing his head again.
“Well, my house is right up the road. If you want you can come in and warm up a bit. You should probably call your folks or maybe your friends,” I say gesturing in the direction of my house.
“Are you sure? I can get a hotel or something. I don’t want to be a bother.”
"I don't mind, really, and considering the only hotel near here is seven miles out of town I’d say your best bet is to go with me," I say with a weary smile.
“Only if you don’t mind,” he says.
“I promise it’s not big deal.”
As I lead him to my house I attempted to help him recall some things about his life. He was able to recollect most big events in his life, graduating high school, his first kiss, and this awesome road trip Michael and his friends were on. Although anything after Sunday afternoon he draws a blank.
"Well, here we are. It's not much but it's better than a snow drift," I joke as we hang up our coats.
“Oh, it's like a five star hotel compared to a snow drift," he chuckles.
I walk into the kitchen and dig around the medicine cabinet. “Make yourself at home. Here's the phone so you can call your family and Advil for your headache. I'm going to make some hot chocolate, do you want some?” I ask.
"Thank you and yes please," Michael said, plopping down on the couch as he dialed the phone.
A “Hello?” is heard on the other end of the phone. “Hi, Mom, it's Michael. I'm borrowing a friend's pho-" He was cut off.
"Not this again. Listen, I'm sick and tired of you twisted people calling me. It's been five years. When will you people stop?" the woman yells.
"Mom, wh-what are you talking about? It's your son, Michael," he stammers and pauses for a few seconds. "She hung up," he says, confusion twisting his face.
"What do you mean she hung up on you? You've been gone since Sunday, she should be worried sick," I questioned as I sat on the sofa and handed him his cup of hot coco.
Michael sat staring at the phone for what seemed like hours sipping his hot chocolate. "It's going to be okay, I promise. You can stay here tonight," I say taking the now empty cup from his hands. "We're going to find out what happened, but for now you can sleep on the couch. Let me go get some blankets."
I jump up and bolt down the tiny hallway and begin rummaging around the closet for a blanket and pillow, when I hear the TV click on.
“The body of 26-year-old Michael Perry was discovered today after a long five year search for the young man. He seemed to have died from a head injury caused by blunt force trauma. The Sheriff is saying it looks like his death may have been the outcome of foul play..."
I rush into the front room. “Michael!” I yell and am greeted by an empty living room with the TV screen flashing the picture of the man that I was just talking to and a full cup of hot chocolate on the coffee table.