|It was snowing softly now. The flake did not seem to float or fall, if anything, the world rose up to catch them all hanging there like flecks of dream. They blanketed the road, a virgin dress of filigree, wedding earth and sky. He soiled the immaculate white like a reluctant lover. Its purity turned to muddy slush under the crushing heel of his boot, snuffed out by soulless rubber soles. He understood what he did. He realized the enormity of it. He knew each flake was singular, unique, likely never seen before and never to be seen again, and now dissolved by his passage. Poor fools, in youth they had thought it would always be a dream.
"I am," said Amadeus to the snow, apologetically, accusingly.
"I am -- Mud," Amadeus said, but that wasn't what he was going to say. What was he going to say? He tried to sound it out. "We pledge allegiance to the -- mud. Blessed be the -- mud, Our father the progenitive of -- mud and mud mud mud."
With his next step a million crystalline stars winked out of existence, gone like lost lovers, family, and friends. The wind picked up and the thermal collisions of those pieces of cloud collapsed against his face; tiny wet kisses, kissing him goodbye.
"I am the Grim Reaper," he remembered, and he heard the crunch again.
Amadeus wanted the pain to stop, but there was yet miles to go. Still, despite it all, he knew in that secret place within himself that he would never wish for the snow to end. There are some agonies too beautiful to touch.
He walked on for many minutes, bowed over by a great unseen weight, with his gloved hands straddling each other behind his back. The snow did stop eventually, when the sun reached the center of the sky and burned through the clouds. The ground glowed in its reflective light.
Amadeus halted when the lake came into view. It was frozen solid and covered in a thin layer of snow, and if weren't for the small dock on one side, he might have thought it a field tucked away in the naked woods. He walked towards it, drawn by some wisp of summer memory from long ago.
At the bank, where a few frosted tufts of grass poked through the icy mud, he moved without thinking. He took off his clothing piece by piece, his thick woolen coat, his gloves, his shirt, his pants, his rubber boots. By the time he was done, his hands were already numb. His unfeeling digits struggled to fold the clothes for several minutes. When he was done, he placed them in a neat pile on the bank.
He looked out at the white expanse. Silence sustained itself, but just barely. It was waiting. Then he took a step forward, and another, out over the frozen lake. It was a balancing act, and he used the balls of his feet to distribute his weight evenly. Occasionally, the ice would pop and groan underneath him, and he felt the vibrations as if his legs were taut wires plucked by an unseen hand. He never stopped his walk once, not until he reached the center of the lake.
He stood there silent, shivering, watching the exhaust of his breath escape and evaporate. His mind was as numb as his body, and he enjoyed the simple pleasure of being without thinking. After a while, the steam of his breath became less and less apparent. Parts of his arms and legs, especially his fingers and toes, began to turn a light pink color and swell. His genitals clung tight to his body, trying to find warmth there.
Amadeus heard another pop beneath him, looked down and saw that where he had shuffled his feet a layer of the frosty dust was scraped away, revealing the glass of the lake beneath, dark and deep and terrible to behold.
He looked back at the way he had come, and each of his footprints had created the same effect, following him like black teardrops. He crouched on his stiff aching knees and with his forearm wiped away the powdered snow until there was a large circle, the iris in the center of a blind eye.
In the ice something glinted. It was a fish, small and streamlined. One of the fish’s dented silvery eyes stared up at the sky, and Amadeus suspected that on the other side of its flat head another eye faced down into the oblivion of the deep. He looked down and down, and the fish looked up and up, and Amadeus smiled and opened his hands like a conductor.
“You've figured it out, by God you have," said Amadeus, "Oh, how I wish I wish I was a fish!,” he cried, and then he felt the straps of the unseen weight he carried popping, snapping off his back. He stared up at the sun until it burned purple spheres into his vision and he filled his burning lungs with cold air and shouted, “and I think I may just be!”
Then the eye blinked.