He says it's because he hates the snow, which is true. It's lost its magic now that he has to commute through it, now that it's dishwater grey and no higher than a foot on the worst days but still godawful to walk through. He says it's because he can't stand the cold, which is true. He's not very big, and he has to wear layers and still ends up shivering after fifteen minutes of being out in chilly weather. There's nothing enjoyable about winter, but it's not because he hates the cold; because he loves hot chocolate, and he can't drink that in the summer. It's not because he hates the snow; because a couple feet means he has an excuse not to travel. It's because when he was fourteen or fifteen—he can't remember exactly—police took his father.
It wouldn't have been such a big deal; his father had been carted away to jail before, sobbing. At the time, he'd hated his mother for it, but he forgave her because his dad was an asshole and he knew that. But that winter, they were living with his father's girlfriend and her little dick son whom he couldn't stand. He was having issues with the fact that they'd been evicted because he'd never been evicted before; it felt horrible. He'd had his own room in their old place—a boyfriend, friends—and he blamed his father's girlfriend because they were doing just fine before she came around.
His father's girlfriend lived in Park Slope, in a building where there were dealers on the third floor, gangsters on the second, and the lobby smelled like piss. He'd never lived in the projects, and he realized, quickly, that he hated them. The apartment she lived in was tiny, and he had to share a room with his brothers and her little twat son—her precious thief baby—the stupid little shit who ran to a payphone to call the police because his mother was too cheap to have a house phone.
That winter, they'd had to dig the car out on several occasions—not that his father's girlfriend or her pig son helped. They didn't wake up at six to go to school or work. They were professional freeloaders, coasting by on Section 8 and foodstamps, busy making him and his brothers feel unwelcome. He especially hated the girlfriend, who took to bossing him and his brothers, but wouldn't have his father telling her son what to do. "You're not his father;" but she wasn't their mother.
It was a holiday or a weekend or some other kind of day on which he could sleep in and did because there was fuck-all to do in Park Slope with three feet of snow made into six at the curb. He had no friends there and couldn't visit his boyfriend. His brothers were still sleeping when he woke up to his father's girlfriend shouting for her son to go call the cops.
He woke his middle brother and whispered for him to get dressed and went to her bedroom door to spy on what was happening. When her shouting woke her son, he told his brother to chase the little shit and stop him because from the looks of it, she was hitting his father with whatever she could reach while the man pleaded pathetically. In that moment, he hated his father because she didn't deserve that tone of voice, the one he'd given to his mother after he made sure she'd never love him again. The girlfriend had earned it after a couple months, and he suspected it was because his father was stupid—into short Hispanic women with angry mouths and long curly hair. She was the complete opposite of his mother, and he hated her for that too.
He glared at the cops and let them guide him outside and answered all the questions as sarcastically as possible. When the lady cop said: Nothing's going to happen to him, he snorted and called her a liar.
When he marched inside, he was met with the sight of his father sobbing, jeans hastily pulled over his bright green sweatpants. The cops hauling him stopped and had grace enough not to look at him, because he was angry and trying very hard not to cry. He wiped his father's nose with a couple squares of tissue and did his fly for him. That was all they were willing to wait for—that was all the hateful silence they were willing to endure. When they dragged his father out the door, he stared at the Lady Cop with an expression that repeated: Liar.
In the hush that followed, three things happened. One, he decided he'd murder the girlfriend and her son if he had to stay in the apartment with them. Two, he was going to his mother's house and taking his brothers with him. Three, he didn't give a fuck how they were going to get there. He grabbed the biggest suitcase they owned and started packing his clothes, then the littlest's, letting his other brother pack his own clothes.
The girlfriend cried and hiccuped and asked where they were going. His reply was short and vehement: My Mom's House. She pleaded for them to stay, said she loved them, she was sorry, but she'd been such a confident bitch when the police stomped in and took his father away—didn't say she wasn't going to press charges, didn't tell the police that her son was lying. She didn't try at all, so he didn't try either.
It got annoying when she wouldn't shut up while he dressed his littlest brother in the warmest clothes they had. The kid was sick and asthmatic and taking him out in the cold was risky, but he couldn't stay with the girlfriend. He told his brother to go call their mother and gave him a quarter, then led their littlest brother out with one suitcase, a duffel bag and two backpacks full of their things.
The six feet of snow at each curb made the normally long walk to the train station a journey. Halfway through, he had to carry the littlest on his back because he started having trouble breathing. When they spotted a police car, humiliated, he asked if they could drop them at the train station. The prompt reply was: We're not a taxi service. He watched them drive away and had enough righteous anger in him to make the rest of the way to the train.
He couldn't beg when they got there, too embarrassed; they didn't have enough for two swipes, so he let his brother tell their sob story while monitoring his littlest brother's breaths. He supposed he looked funny with his ear to a kid's mouth, listening for what he called 'rice crispies'.
Their brother was a good beggar, and when they got through, told their story to a concerned transit officer. He corroborated the story, grim-faced and ready to hate, but the cop just frowned and told them to get off the escalator. He called them a taxi and gave the driver twenty bucks and told him to drive them to their mother's house. Holding the littlest on his lap, he felt relieved for the first time that day.
Their mother was waiting for them, and he was even more relieved to be in her house. He missed it and felt at home for the first time since he and his brothers moved away with their father. Well maybe he didn't miss the roaches, but he did miss their cat and took his time saying hello to her as his mother got their stuff in order and began taking care of the littlest.
It took too much energy to hate everyone and everything involved, so he placed the event in his memory, and called it Winter; the season still grated his nerves, sharp in his lungs as he trudges through slush.