The night is cold, snow
dusted sparsely along the berm.
It is the kind of cold which makes
cheeks too numb to feel tears
but not cold enough to freeze
them as they drip… drip…
onto a furry coat collar.
The road is empty, only
a single car parked to the side
mostly sheltered by thick trees.
The nearest town is miles away.
You would have to drive for hours
to reach this quiet, cold land.
There is a person standing
in the middle of the quiet road.
They listen to the crickets, rustling
of a living forest, head tilted up
to bare neck and face to the stars.
They are holding a key.
It is not that kind of key.
The kind of door that exists only
on the median line of unused
country backroads cannot be
opened with that kind of key.
It is a glowing branch, reflecting
off the scattered snow.
The figure raises their wand,
points it as far above as they can reach,
and waits a moment.
Listening, again, for something
that might make them want
to stop. To stay.
Their listening is unanswered.
It is nearly violent, the swing
which paints a wide, luminous circle
before the body, just greater than their
reach, right above the median line.
The wand goes round a second time,
twice to bind the door on both sides.
If the person looks back…
If they wish so hard to see a pursuer…
If their face is numb and wet…
there is no one there to see it
before they climb through the door
and lock it dark behind them.