My thermostat is set a 68 degrees and the cold taps my nose, making it run. The Wisconsin wind of winter snaps my neighbor’s flag at the dark sky, am and pm indistinguishable in January. I drag my little girl from bed every morning and bundle her in turtle neck sweaters, hugs, and wool.
I think of this as I watch the morning news and gulp my steaming coffee.
I hear of victims, who will be cold in their graves and young men bloodied on the snow dusted sidewalks of the city. I see the people who love them cry white steam into the black air.
At work it comes to me once more. My computer screen flickers as it tries to start in the morning crisp room where I teach. I wait for the boiler and for my students to fill the room with heat. My cold bag lunch sits on the frosted sill.
During recess I sink my head into my shoulders and pull my coat toward my core.
My car grinds to a start at the end of the day and crunches away from the frozen curb. Exhaust pours white from the pipes in front of me on the freeway. I follow them back home, where the air has gone from crisp to biting. A thought nags at me.
I relax in a thick sweat suit and make soup for dinner. The dogs whine at the door and I reluctantly let them slide through the crack between the kitchen and the snow. I think of the people who walk the streets, sleep under paper, or fill the shelters and remind myself to write a check. We climb the stairs to the second floor, which is distinctly one degree less. I think of it once again.
The evening news tells me that there are no leads and the victim is still dead. I sink my head into my shoulders and pull my sweater toward my core.
As I turn off the light and we all crawl between cold, indifferent sheets, I decide that I will believe heaven is hot. I decide that I will dream of a sweet, sweaty Wisconsin summer and when that time comes, I will decide to believe that heaven is cold.
Linda Simko is a mother, wife, and has been a teacher for 27 years. She lives in Hartford, Wisconsin and currently teaches Middle School English at Christ King School in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee. She has taught German and English for a short time in Austria. She has been honored me with several nominations in “Who’s Who In American Education” and in 2000 was awarded a Kohl Fellowship for excellence in teaching.