Red leaves fluttered downward, carried by the wind toward the asphalt of Cherry Street. The newly risen sun barely peeked over the mountains surrounding Appleton, its rays not yet strong enough to break up the morning fog that hung like heavy curtains over the ground.
Mrs. Anderson opened her heavy front door slowly, its hinges creaking with effort. Frigid air streamed through the crack between the door and the jamb, making her bones ache from its icy touch. Quickly, she wrapped her flannel robe tightly around her sagging breasts, refusing entrance to the cold gust.
She clutched her cup of coffee with both hands like a talisman as she made the long descent down her driveway toward her mailbox. One step at a time, she told herself. Cold as it was, it wouldn’t do to fall a quarter of the way to the mailbox. None of her lively yuppie neighbors would be awake at this hour, leaving her utterly without help if she should fall.
Pausing for a moment, Mrs. Anderson took a sip from her mug. The currently lukewarm coffee slid down her throat, offering no reprieve from the temperature. She disappointedly poured the last sip, chock full of coffee grounds, onto the grass that bordered her driveway. The break over, she secured her empty mug within a deep pocket of her robe. She continued on her trek, side stepping down the last section of pavement.
The ground beneath her was finally flat. Mrs. Anderson breathed a sigh of white, steamy relief at arriving safely at her mailbox. Her cheeks wrinkled with her smile as she opened the mailbox to retrieve her news.
She opened the newspaper to listen to the headlines before summoning the effort to climb back to the warmth of her living room.
“ARREST MADE IN RAMPTON JEWELRY THIEVERY,” one newscaster screamed from the paper. “A break was made in the case last week when Detect-,” the newscaster was cut off when Mrs. Anderson flipped to the Lifestyle section, uninterested.
“The Top 5 Pie Recipes You Need This Fall,” the perky voice of a female reporter drew Mrs. Anderson’s interest.
Seeing the picture of the spiced pumpkin pie featured, Mrs. Anderson’s wrinkled smiled returned, her eyes growing wet. The recipe was one of her mother’s, from the early 2000s. She felt the heat emanating from the wooden fireplace of her childhood, so different from the false, gentle warmth brought by her current fireplace screen.
Deeply ensconced in another time, Mrs. Anderson didn’t care one bit that her feet were growing numb, toe after toe.