Shut the door gently, pushing softly with two hands pressed beside the window. Shut the door quickly, before too much cold air seeps in.

Seeps, uncurls, like a cloud rolling in. Or does it crawl, sharp-clawed, scratching against the warmth of indoors.

The heat seeps out, the cold snakes in. Sitting beside a window, I feel the chill in the air. The car is frozen, the locks are frozen, even the damn garbage can is frozen to the ground, cemented by the ice-bank surrounding it.

We hide from the outdoors, dressing up in twirly dresses, bare feet slapping floors as they run, giggles floating behind. We picnic on the carpet, melted cheese dripping off corn chips because dinner at the table every single night gets boring. We play ponies, and dollies and every single thing they find, from the stuffed bears to the foot warmers is a Mommy and a Daddy and a Baby and a Big Sister. It’s heartbreaking in its innocence, because this version of family and happiness is the absolute extent of their knowledge.

We hide from the outdoors, baking cupcakes and licking batter until it covers little hands and cheeks. Batter is downed by the fistful in the moments I turn my back, evidenced by the drips clinging to the front of shirts.

We hide from the outdoors in the moments when they lay quietly and watch tv or sit on my knee while I read them stories that they have long ago memorized.

We can’t hide forever, and so then we bundle in mitts and puffy jackets and toques and clompy boots that steal socks every time you kick them off in the car. We wait, breath steaming in puffs, as the car warms, the frost slowly creeping away up the windshield as the car’s fan blows hot air. Hands are cold and feet are cold and even though we try, there is no real way to protect ourselves from this.

We can’t hide forever, I think to myself, growing tired of the layers and layers of clothes that I pull over resisting heads, snake skinny arms through. We won’t have to hide forever, I think to myself, because two weeks from now is another new month and maybe by then it will start to warm a little.

We won’t have to hide forever from the sheet of ice on the driveway and from the pain that grabs your lungs if you breath your first outside too deeply, too quickly.

I hate hiding.

I pull on running tights and three shirts and mittens and a face mask. I pull on a toque and sigh when I check the windchill. But I hate hiding, so I find a sheltered hill and run up it and then down it and then back up it, so many times that surely anyone watching would think I was certifiable. I hate hiding, and I refuse to, and so I become that crazy girl who runs. In February.

In one breath, I am mother and runner and wife and student. In one moment, in a picture taken by someone and regarded by others, I am perfect and strong and inspiring. That’s the inhalation. The exhalation is lonely, because in my exhalation I am confused and angry.

I hate hiding, and I refuse to, and so I don’t.

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