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By Ella Etienne Labelle February 15, 2024

Within the Snow Globe

A woman walks down the sidewalk, coffee in hand, unconsciously frowning at the bustle on the street. Everyone is going somewhere, everyone knows what they are doing. She follows them.

“I hope I look the same,” she thinks.

The woman steps into a gray office building. The receptionist greets her, they talk about their time off work. The receptionist already longs for the next weekend. The woman walks on to her cubicle.

The cubicle has always been the same. She walks in, sits down. Gray walls. Gray paperwork. Gray clouds peering into the office scene to spy at the woman through the one small window on the gray wall. She types something onto her desktop. She glances at the snow globe on her desk, the only fragment of reality that is tangible to the woman. A brief glimmer passes through her eyes as she watches it, recalling the elderly relative who brought it back for her from a land far away. It is perched on a bright-red stand and vivid rainbow coloured snowflakes dance around the picturesque beach inside of it.

The ticking of a clock knocks her out of this reverie.

The clock strikes ten.

The woman stands up, walks over to the gray kitchen to fill her cracked white mug with bitter black coffee. She sits down again and types more gray sentences that she does not understand. The geometrically perfect black lines on her spreadsheet begin to blur, mixing in with the white background like an ash-coloured oil spill. She blinks a few times. The woman looks up at the dull white light fixture above her cubicle. She searches it for details she might have missed before. She types again.

The clock strikes twelve, the woman eats a lunch of leftovers. She fills her cracked, now coffee-stained mug. She watches her spreadsheet. She blinks, rubs her eyes. She focuses on the big light above her cubicle instead of the souvenir from the land far away. The snow globe is only a distraction; she glances away from it at all costs. The woman watches the light, looks down, and types some more.

At two o’clock, she does not get up. She watches the blurring lines of her spreadsheet, her fingers removed from the keyboard. She knows the lines are perfectly straight, black and solid, but all she sees are their dark shadows dancing on the white background. No color. An oil spill on a clean beach of pristine white sand. She blinks repeatedly, unable to see clearly. She rubs her eyes until they ache. She stretches up her neck to watch the dull light fixture.

She glues her gaze to it, but the crystal ball-shaped memory calls to the woman from its corner of the desk. She watches the light fixture, but she no longer sees its grayish white glow. A rainbow of colors now dance in its place, growing more vibrant with every confused squint of the woman’s eyes. Now, she only sees the snow globe. Though she watches the light, she can only feel the warmth of the faraway beach that she had never explored. She can only watch the show of vivid colors dancing around her. This memory, one that was never hers, is all her senses can perceive.

The woman stands up on her desk chair. She can see the entire floor of office workers.

Like on her spreadsheet, the rows of perfectly straight, square cubicles begin to move before her eyes, blending in with the floor, the gray walls, the gray people. They all dance before her like a burning street in a heatwave. In her head, though, the myriad of colors still thrives.

The woman gets down from her chair, standing up straight within the four gray walls of her cubicle. Now, her eyes go straight to the snow globe. She reaches for it, the comforting memory of the faraway land already roaming within her mind. As her hand inches closer to it, she can feel the comforting warmth it radiates. The rainbow-like waltz of colors now blur her vision completely, and her body is filled with vibrant sensations. She touches the glass, and though her sight is blurred by thriving colors, it has never been so crystal clear.

The memory of the distant world living within the glass orb seems welded into her spirit when she holds it in her hand. The woman walks out of her cubicle, beyond the gray floor and beyond the gray receptionist who longs for the weekend.

When she stands, basking in the sun outside the office building, the snow globe in her palm leading her forward like a beacon of light, she does not look back.

The woman walks down the sidewalk, admiring the bustle on the street. Everyone is going somewhere, everyone knows what they are doing.

“And now,” she thinks, “I am going somewhere too.”


Photo by Gonz DDL on Unsplash

About the author

Ella is a student in the ALC program.

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