It’s 5:59 when Ronnie decides to close. Tess and her brothers are still arguing over the display games, but their tired mother will be here soon, apologizing and promising to be on time tomorrow. It’s a gentle little fiction, and the gratitude in her face warms him. It’s been a heavy January.
He crutches out to the door and sees first that the frost has melted, second that the sun is just barely still up. Ronnie flips the sign and remembers the picture of Solstice in his almanac: every day, from here on out, it’ll be bright a little bit longer.