The first year, it snowed. Big, wet flakes fell silently, covering Christmas day in white. The carols played over the speakers at Union Station as friends and family greeted each other with squeals and hugs. The interior of the station was warm, but Shannon didn’t want to take a chance on missing him. Carlton was very clear: the front of Union Station. So, she adjusted the scarf around her neck, wiped her nose, blinked the flakes from her eye-lashes and waited.
The next year, it was cold and gray. Christmas was not romantically white, just a dull battleship grey that painted the landscape, depressing the joyous season. Shannon had fallen while holiday shopping and twisted her ankle. Her sister had become angry when she began to dress to leave for the station.
“You’re a fool,” she sneered.
Perhaps, Shannon thought. But what is love without trust? Two years ago, as they said goodbye, Carlton had held her — they had kissed and he had wiped her tears away with his thumb and promised he would see her again Christmas morning, in front of Union Station. She loved and trusted him. Certainly, this year he was going to show up. This year he would take her in his arms and she would bury her face in his chest. She needed to be there. He needed to know that she trusted him. So, Shannon blocked out the voices telling her that she was wasting her time, that she should spend the morning with family, and slipped a tennis shoe on the foot with the swollen ankle, zipped up her parka and headed downtown to Union Station, wondering at the cost of true love.
As Shannon played with the fog from her breath, the snow began lightly falling — small, dry crystals that fell sporadically, covering the black asphalt with a fine, white powder. She looked west. Through the somber scene she saw the blue/grey Rocky Mountains covered with snow. She took comfort in the mountains. The Rockies were consistent. Wherever she was in the city, the mountains were always to the west, always standing strong, beautiful, masculine, guarding the City of Denver. She adjusted herself on her crutch and waited.
The third year, it snowed again. Christmas Eve, the snow fell in white sheets that covered the city. The sun came out Christmas morning and Denver was blanketed with 24 inches of beautiful, crystalline white. The blizzard kept most people indoors. During the long, slow drive to the train station, Shannon wondered what it might be like to be the last person on earth. The trains were delayed and the station virtually empty. But three years ago, Carlton had promised that he would meet her, so she thrust her gloved hands deep into her coat pockets, looked West toward the mountains and waited.