• This is a story about an incident that happened in passing on my way from point A to point B. It has nothing do do with the grand scheme of things, there is no sex nor violence involved, nobody is going to die or fall in love. It is not one of those stories. And though it happened on a dark December evening, there will be no wandering star in it, no shepherds nor a stable with an ox and a donkey. It has a little to do with snow, however.

    Snow on a day that is so cold that even the myriad of passing feet in the pedestrian zone between the bus and the train station cannot destroy it, but merely succeed in shuffling it about, compressing the frozen water into something brown and hard and sludgy. This is not the snow that crunches under my feet as I take a stroll on a winter night, inviting me to tread silly patterns into the pristine white and it is neither the snow that gets caught under the belly of the dog frolicking by my side until I have to pick ice-clumps the size of golfballs off him with my gloved hands. No, here it is just a layer of packed brown snow. A background, not doing much of a job in bringing out the drab clothing of the people hurrying along beside me or the dirty gray facades of the buildings in this concrete-chasm I am in, or even the lone, leafless sycamore tree with the four green benches underneath it. What it does perfectly, however -the snow, the concrete and the dark green lacquer- is contrasting against the pure white plumage of two doves alighting on one of the benches as I walk past.
    They almost seem to glow, and to my startled mind, it appears as if they are falling down like snowflakes: weightless, casual, almost whimsical with their immaculate white tail feathers spread like fans and their very red feet and dark round eyes looking out into the dreary world.

    Doves. Not pigeons. Petite white birds sitting on the backrest of the bench now, doves just like those a magician would pull out of his top-hat, tossing them a little up and down so that they flutter their wings and the audience marvels at how it was possible to produce them from the seemingly empty prop. Indeed, it is possible if he squeezes them a little beforehand... until he eventually squeezes them too much, but then there are always more doves to be had. But right now, on this very dark and cold evening, there is no illusionist nor a top-hat anywhere in sight, it is just the white doves and the dark green bench and me... and maybe a young couple, who also have stopped dead in their tracks, marvelling at the strange sight just as I do.

    And then they are gone, the doves, fallen behind because I have started to move along on my way again, and it takes a while -at least until I reach the station- before I begin to wonder why I haven’t stopped for longer, why it was so goddamn important to not stand and stare like a fool. Why I had to be so laughably considerate in not forming a traffic block among all that busy hustle and bustle of all the people who just saw another pair of pigeons on a bench if they noticed them at all. I will never know how the story ended... whether eventually the magician with his black moustache and streaming coattails came running to catch them in his top-hat, or if the doves merely hopped down to the ground, picking at breadcrumbs to fly away to who-knows-where after a while... or if they eventually transformed into tongues of flame like the holy spirit on all those gilded altarpieces... it was the season, after all.
    No, I will never know. Maybe that young couple knows, though I never see their faces when I remember this scene after all these years... In my mind, there is only this one picture of the doves floating down like snowflakes with their white tails and red feet and dark eyes that look out into one dreary December evening. Nothing but that.