If Winter Comes tells the story of LUKE, a young, gay, black man recently diagnosed with HIV in the 1990s who drives to Vermont to see for one last time his college lover, CHAD, now a committed, fundamentalist Christian with a wife and child.
These are events I propose to happen in the narrative in story order.
Day 1. Late September 1994. (Saturday)
The Saturday that Luke arrives in late September.
Afternoon. The Farmhouse. A bright Indian summer afternoon. LUKE arrives at CHAD’s farm. He pulls up in the blue Mustang hatchback he has had since college. After pondering whether this is the second or the third biggest mistake of his life, he gets out of the car, opens the gate on the white picket fence, rings the doorbell… and hears nothing until he notices the sound of CHAD chopping wood in the backyard. He goes around to the back and surprises a shirtless CHAD. CHAD slips on his shirt and they talk awkwardly until CHAD hears MADDY’s car arrive and tells LUKE that it is his wife.
Afternoon. The Farmhouse. MADDY shows up with JOSHUA, home from shopping. CHAD rushes to help her unload the station wagon and LUKE follows. JOSHUA runs to CHAD who picks him up, then he kisses MADDY who looks slightly surprised. She asks who LUKE is and CHAD introduces him as an old friend from college. LUKE offers to help carry in groceries.
Afternoon. The Farmhouse Kitchen. MADDY asks LUKE what brings him all the way to Vermont. LUKE says he’s always wanted to visit Vermont and figured he would drop in and see CHAD while he was at it. They chit chat about leaves and whether they are in season yet or not. MADDY invites LUKE to stay for dinner. They’re just having a simple meal. CHAD comments that MADDY doesn’t make simple meals. At some point CHAD goes to kiss MADDY and she tells him that he’s sweaty, he stinks and needs a shower. She shoos him off while she gets to know LUKE.
Afternoon. The Farmhouse Kitchen. LUKE and MADDY visit.
Evening. Guest Bedroom. CHAD knocks on the Guest Bedroom door as LUKE is getting ready for bed. CHAD has brought LUKE a robe. CHAD knows LUKE is wont to sleep naked, and might need a robe if he has to get up in the night to go to the bathroom. LUKE thanks him, smiling; he realizes what the robe means, but doesn’t say anything suggestive. CHAD tells LUKE he’s glad LUKE tracked him down. LUKE says he’s glad he did too.
Evening. Master Bedroom. MADDY asks CHAD about his and LUKE’s relationship. CHAD admits that he and LUKE ended their friendship over a difference of opinion over where their relationship was going. By way of explanation, CHAD tells MADDY that LUKE is gay.
Evening. Guest Bedroom. LUKE lies in bed, wondering what he has done. He can’t sleep so he gets up, gets his Walkman and puts on his headphones and listens to his Liebestod tape.
Night. Master Bedroom, Hallway and Attic. Unable to sleep, CHAD gets out of bed and goes to the attic where he digs out the locked box of letters, notes and poems LUKE wrote him over the years and reads them.
Day 2. Late September 1994 (Sunday)
Morning. Guest Bedroom. LUKE wakes up in the guest bedroom. He smells a sumptuous breakfast. I wonder when Sunday is. I need to figure out when Sunday is so they can all go to church at the right moment in the story. I think the neighbors visit after church. Right after church.
Morning. Kitchen. LUKE enters the kitchen. Everyone is assembled. They wondered when he was going to get up. I’m sorry. Why didn’t you eat without me? Don’t worry, we weren’t going to starve. I was getting ready to send CHAD up to get you in a minute.
Day 3. Late September 1994 (Monday)
Day 4 and following
Day 4 and following…
These are events I see happening in the narrative or in flashback.
CHAD, MADDY and JAKE celebrate LUKE’s birthday.
CHAD catches LUKE playing and singing “An den Mond.” He listens intently, standing in the doorway until Luke finishes. I think the first words out of CHad’s mouth are, “you’re killing me, Luke.” He has tears running down his cheeks. “I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.”
LUKE and CHAD kiss, unexpectedly.
MADDY asks CHAD the question: “Are you gay?”
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