The snow was white, it was solid but yielding, it covered the world.
"Remind me why we are doing this," Danielle said, trekking through the snow behind Michael.
"It is like a wilderness sabbatical," Michael replied, glancing back. "It'll be fun."
"You said it would be a romantic getaway," Danielle commented.
"But it is too much work to be romantic, don't you think?"
"Yeah," Danielle consented sullenly.
"Besides, a wilderness sabbatical could be romantic," Michael said, reaching the top of a ridge and looking down at Danielle.
"It could," Danielle caught up.
"It is still fun though," Michael said, putting his arm around Danielle.
Danielle said nothing, she stared past Michael. Michael turned around but couldn't see what Danielle was staring at. "What is it?"
"Do you think he is alive?" Danielle asked.
"What?" but suddenly Michael could see what Danielle was staring at, there was a man lying in the snow. "I'm not sure."
Danielle took a hesitant step closer, "It doesn't look like he is breathing," she said, staring intently.
"Maybe he's not alive," Michael said.
"I am alive," the voice was resonant; it seemed to travel through the snow. "How could I die?"
They didn't know what to say.
The man sat up and crossed his legs, just the upper half of his body was taller than Michael, who was six foot two. He had white skin, pure white, like the snow, and was not wearing any clothes that the couple could see.
"Who are you?" Danielle finally asked.
"Who am I? A woman asks and I always answer," he said these words to himself but the sound travelled through the snow and they still heard him. "I am the snow man," he said, and it was certainly true.
The snowman, which they could now see him to be, was white, he was the colour of snow, he was made of snow. His body had no definition except for a nose and fingers and toes, there were no lines, there was no muscle, no fat, no navel, nothing. His eyes were black, made of coal and his mouth was dark when he talked and invisible when he didn't.
"How can you be a snow man?" Michael asked.
"I do not know," the snow man lay back down and vanished into the snow. "How can you be a flesh man?" the voice came out of the snow, it came from every direction.
"Well..." he wasn't really sure.
"Well. That is as far as anyone gets," the snow laughed. "I don't try to justify myself, so don't you try either."
"Ok," Michael said, desperately trying to find something specific to talk to, Danielle didn't need to talk.
"Everyone tries to explain it," the snow said, laughing again. "Everyone I have ever talked to has tried to justify their existence, has tried to explain why they are and I shouldn't be."
"How many people have you talked too?" Danielle asked.
"A question worth asking," the snow said and Michael almost objected to the insinuation that the questions he had asked were not worth asking. The snow continued, "I have talked to many people, the exact number is irrelevant, I have talked to all the people who have seen me, lying in the snow. I have talked to all the people who wondered if I was alive."
"And are you really alive?" Michael asked. "A man made of snow."
"I am as alive as you are, a man made of flesh," the snow formed into a man, roughly six foot six this time. "Maybe more, I am of snow, but you are made of flesh. And I have been here so much longer."
"Why could I see you when he couldn't?" Danielle asked before Michael could ask what he was talking about.
"Some people can, but only when I want them to," the snow man managed to look thoughtful without his eyes having expression.
"Why did you want me to see you?" Danielle asked.
"Well, I wanted to be seen, not specifically by you," the snow man said, turning and starting to walk away. "I wanted to be seen because soon no one can see me."
"Why won't anyone be able to see you soon?" Michael asked.
"Because snow is leaving this world," the snow stopped and half turned. "Walk with me, people of flesh."
"We will make this conversation memorable," Danielle promised, Michael looked at her questioningly. "Because we are to blame for snow leaving, maybe not personally, but you know."
"I guess," Michael conceded.
"No one is to blame for this, no one still living," the snow man started walking again and Danielle hurried to catch up.
"But surely someone must be to blame," she protested. "The oil companies, someone."
"There was someone to blame, they took my only friend," the snow man looked around him.
"Your only friend?"
"My only friend, my only companion for so long," the snowman stopped walking and turned to look at Danielle. "Was the forest, the forest was there for so long, we were together in places like this. Now she is dead, and you are to blame for that," he wasn't angry, he looked at Danielle sorrowfully, his black eyes conveying better than words how he felt. "She died in pain, she died burning and screaming, she died, cut into pieces."
The snow man turned and continued walking, Danielle stayed where she was and Michael caught up with her, he softly guided her after the snow man.
"So there is someone to blame?" Danielle asked after a while.
"I guess there is someone to blame," the snow man turned to look back at them. "But I don't blame you."
"But we didn't do it," Danielle pointed out.
"Interpret it that way if you want," the snowman turned back around.
"How can you be ok with not blaming anyone?" Danielle finally demanded.
"Because you never see the bigger picture," the snow man said, turning around again.
"I see the big picture," Danielle protested.
"No one sees the bigger picture, no one lives long enough," the snowman stopped walking and looked at her again. "People don't see the consequences, people don't believe someone could have left this for them. People don't see the bigger picture, because they don't want to."
"Some people do," Danielle said, she wasn't really protesting anymore.
"No one sees the bigger picture, because it is not something anyone ever wants to see ," the snowman smiled, somehow Michael could see in his eyes that this was something to remember.
"But..." Danielle couldn't say anything more.
"Maybe I can help," Michael said. "And don't get mad at this," Danielle looked at him. "I don't know why I like you, I know why I wanted to talk to you, I know why I wanted to go out with you, to sleep with you."
"Because I'm pretty," Danielle said.
"Exactly," Michael thought for a moment. "You are pretty, beautiful in fact, but that isn't why I love you."
"That would be shallow," Danielle said.
"It would, so, you are to blame for my love for you," Michael said, Danielle was smiling brilliantly. "But I don't blame you for it, how could I?"
"You couldn't," Danielle practically tackled him and they both fell into the snow.
"Exactly," the snow man said.
They looked from where they lay in the snow but they couldn't see him anymore.
Michael and Danielle looked for the snow man for an hour, and finally the clouds started to clear, and the sun shone in through the white shell. They saw the black coal, the eyes of a snowman, staring sorrowfully at the sun.
In the end, the snow is gone, the sun burns it away. But the snowman that you built doesn't care that you let it die, the snowman was happy to be there, but also happy to leave. A man of snow isn't permanent.
But neither is a man of flesh.