We went out and played in the snow. My brother did not like it very much but still stayed behind to watch after my sister and I just played with each other. We made a tiny snowman and gave it a family, we had a snowball fight, and then we just built a fort.
We stayed there, we playing and my brother watching over, until sunset because we did not want to go back home. Anything was better than being there, but, eventually, we all looked at each other, nodded peacefully and went inside to make dinner.
In between boiling the pasta and making the salad, I went over to watch my father who was still by the fireplace, knitting a sweater that was never done. He was always with it, prickling his own fingers over and over, with a blank look on his face, looking beyond the flames. His face was as pale, thin, and sunken as ever and when I gently touched his shoulder, he did not say anything as ever. I had not heard his voice in so long, but he did blink very slowly, so that was enough.
We fed him in stages. My sister opened his mouth, I put the food in, and my brother moved the head up and down, up and down, so that he would chew and swallow. He barely made a sound and when we were done, we stayed close to the fireplace, talking, playing, just hanging out, until it was too late to pretend that we were having fun. One of us always stayed, sleeping in a cot, to keep an eye, but I always felt it did not matter. He never moved from his chair, never let go of the sweater, and never stopped staring. He slept sitting down and when he woke up, he kept staring saying nothing.
We had to clean him every morning and it was such a disgusting and repugnant thing we had to do, but as time went on, it became so natural that we could joke about it amongst ourselves. And then we went outside on our own, waiting for night.
But with the never-ending snow, day after day, we had something else we could focus that was actually nice to look at and fun.
“How much more is this going to keep going on?” I asked my brother and my sister as we were sitting down on a bench. It was one of the hottest days of the winter, so it was still very cold but not enough that we couldn’t go out, and play, and admire all the snow sculptures we had just built and destroyed.
“Until mother comes back, I suppose,” my sister said and we all laughed: I, very hoarsely, my brother, very gravely, and my sister, as if she was coughing.
“Who is the sweater for?” I asked.
“For the baby,” my brother said as if it was the most natural thing in the world but there was no baby and there was no mother, just a man.
We just sat there talking about everything we could think of until nightfall came. We sighed and went back inside, only to find a strange sight. My brother tried to shield me and my sister, but I screamed and she gasped.
There he was, my father, out of his chair, lying on the floor at last, dead and free of what little misery was left in him, the chair was broken in two, and the sweater he was knitting, were actually three, finished at last, covering his entire body, wrapping him so cosily.
We stared for a long, long while and as we approached the body, we all began to laugh: I, very happily, my brother, very strangely, and my sister, very confused, as if she wanted to cry instead.
We took the sweaters from his corpse and wrapped ourselves in his warmth one last time. We ate without having to feed him, we spent time around the fireplace with only his physical presence, and for the first time, we each went to our own rooms in the same night and slept like never before.