It was a cold day. Mike and his dog Barkley were out on a walk in the woods. They got off the path for a little while to look at the frozen river, then scrambled up the hill and got on the road that led to the school. They walked down about a mile when they saw Trisha.
She was wearing a big winter jacket and a big wool hat, arms crossed, back hunched, she was trying to get out of the cold as fast as she could.
“Hey, Trisha, what are you up to?”
“I am just trying to get home. It’s another two miles.”
“I know where you live. We’ll walk you.”
“Thanks. You’re Mike, right? We take history together.”
“Oh, what a nice doggy. What’s his name?”
“Barkley? That’s hilarious,” she laughed a little, but he could tell the cold was killing her.
“Not used to the winters, are you?”
“Yeah, I just moved from California.”
They walked in silence for a minute. Mike picked up the conversation.
“So why are you out here walking, anyway?”
“Oh, I was kicked off my ride.”
“Really? Why? Who did that?”
“It was just my dad’s friend. Don’t worry about it. You?”
“Me? Oh, I’m just out for a walk. Hey, that was really not nice, what he did. You should never get in the car with him again.”
“Yeah, I don’t really choose who I get into a car with,” she said quietly.
Barkley barked. The road was silent, no cars and no wind. They came to a bend on the top of a hill and could over the white tree tops. The sky was purple with orange fire hanging low. Mike took a deep breath and enjoyed the view. He could sense Trisha squirming next to him.