Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Escape (01/02/06)
TITLE: The Snowflake
By Maxx .
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The Montana winter blew through the ravines like a freight train tumbling down the Rockies; out of control, thunderous, unstoppable. By rights he should have been dead, frozen until the spring thaw released the mountains from their glacial prison. He’d left his coat and gloves by the mantle, on the hearth, near his expressionless wife.
His hopes lay there too, in tatters on the parlor floor.
Pine branches glowered with serrated icicle teeth. They chomped as the winds screamed past; winter dragons gnashing and fierce. He was tormented. Old wounds torn anew had suppurated and putrefied.
From behind, footsteps.
Wraithlike shadows circled in the darkness. Wolves. They growled from the edges of his failing vision. “Leave me alone!” He swung his hand. “Go away!”
Heart pounding, he fled deeper into the gloom.
Sadie had folded her arms, chin lowered, eyes staring toward the fireplace as if watching hidden dreams smolder to nothing.
He knelt and placed a tender hand on her stooped shoulders. “Please, dear. What’s wrong? Let me help.” His voice rasped hoarse and salty. An isolated prayer echoed through his jumbled mind but the words were blunted by so many that had previously gone unanswered.
Her skin appeared waxy. She sat distant, self destructive, and loathing.
She didn’t respond.
He tripped over a small drift where a few months prior he’d picked bouquets of purple bitterroot flowers. They were gone, dead, lost. He clawed stiff fingers into the icy remains and wept, his frozen tears spilling about the snow like shattered diamonds.
“God! You‘ve taken everything!” He choked on a sob. God didn’t do this to you. She did. Piece by precious piece. From love to neglect to … he considered the progression … abandonment. “Please, Father, is there no hope?”
The only response, the snapping of fangs from behind the tree line.
He’d been patient. For too long waiting for her touch to return to him, praying for her smile to reappear. But her kisses were ash on his lips, her fingertips like dust. “Sadie, look at me! Just a glance. Can’t you give me that much?”
Her eyes seemed to scrape the lowest circle of despair. Spittle clung to the corners of her bowed mouth. “I don’t have anything left to give you.”
He fell backward onto the woven rug. His vision blurred through flowing eyes. “That’s not possible.” He placed his hands on the floor and crawled. “Y-you love me …” his voice trailed away. Unthinkable words gagged him. “Are you … going to leave me?”
What emotions she had were drawn in the rolling of her pupils upward into their sockets. She snorted, guttural and hopeless. “Sure. Where would I go? What would I do?” Her stare drifted away.
The bridge wasn’t high but it spanned an inky depth that in the frigid twilight seemed to have no end. Trevor stumbled to the center and grasped the rail. An icy splinter tore his palm. But no pain could mask the suffering he lived as hope bled slowly from his soul.
The wolves came, hounding him, threatening. There was no escape from them anymore.
He spun about. “What am I supposed to do, God?” He shook his fist at the clouds and the wind. “I promised ‘til death do us part.’ Death! Not this! I can’t reach her anymore.”
He climbed the railing and balanced on the slick edges of the frozen timbers.
“Nothing’s left.” He wrenched the ring from his left hand. The one she’d given him ten years, a lifetime, before. He laid it on the balustrade.
From the roadway a wolf lunged, teeth bared.
Trevor slipped from his perch. Desperate, he grabbed, flailing.
A single snowflake fell. Drifting, spinning, swirling as Trevor clutched the crossbeam with uncertain fingers. It turned about, crystalline, fragile, unique. Past distressed eyes it flipped, revealing one side and then the other. Each surface disappeared from view, but was still there none-the-less ... waiting. Two distinct faces on one creation. It faded into the recesses of the gorge and vanished.
Trevor shuddered, hope restored.
He pulled himself to safety and retraced his footprints home.
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