A Geography of Snow: A Story

My father has to go out in a storm.  An eight-hour shift at the gasworks, then two or three hours tomorrow morning, All Soul’s Day morning, in a bar where “Happy Hour” starts at 7:30 A.M. and ends at noon, and he’ll walk home through the snow stinking of beer and CH4, the chemical composition of natural gas.  If you want to know how it smells in our house, scratch and sniff the card the utility company gives you so you can detect a leak in one of your gas-burning appliances.  What the company adds is an “odorant.”  My father and our house smell like an odorant.

Pani or “Madam” Pilsudski, our neighbor, likes the smell when she comes over.  “Oo-la-la,” she says when she gets a whiff.  As my father grumbles and I page through my scrapbook of interesting newspaper stories, Mother starts talking to her in Polish in the living room.  I try not to listen, having important things to do on my hobby.

My scrapbook has a three-ring metal binding and gray canvas covers.  In light blue ink, I’m putting on the front cover, “STRANGE, FUNNY NEWS GATHERED BY ANDREW BORUCZKI.”  The cover is hard to write on, and I have to go over the letters, almost carving them in.  Because of it, the front cover looks sloppy, which, when he sees it, serves as an irritant, not an odorant, to my father, who is trying to...

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