Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)
TITLE: The Snow Angel
By Debbie Roome
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“Please take me home.”
He jerks around a corner, the car lurching from left to right. “You need to learn what cold really feels like.”
“Please, Frankie. I won’t use the heater again.” Tears tremble in my voice and I try and steady it. “Mom will be angry if she finds I’m gone.
“Your mother’s as drunk as a fish in a punch bowl.”
I’m lying on the floor of his car, face pressed into oily rags and assorted tools. I can feel we’re climbing and imagine we’re in the mountains. Frankie is slurring his words and fear constricts my heart as he slams on brakes.
“No, no! You can’t do this! Please take me home. I’ll never waste electricity again.”
He steps out the car and wrenches the door open. “I said out!” Meaty hands reach in, and drag me across the floor.
“I’ve only got a sweat-suit on.” My voice comes out shrill with panic.
“Too bad.” He shoves me in the small of my back and I stumble into a pile of snow on the roadside.
“Frankie!” I clamber up and run after his tail lights, slipping in the ice, but he’s gone.
How I miss Dad. Frankie is a total waste compared to him.
After a moment of indecision, I start walking down the road. It’s after 10pm and the chances of anyone being up here are slight ... yet I have to try. Above me, the moon is a pale outline, shedding light, but giving no warmth. The mountains peaks touch it, coated as they are with winter. In other circumstances it could be beautiful; ice pearls beaded on twigs and snow drifts like smooth icing.
The cold is deathly as I keep moving, following the road as it twists and turns. I realise I can’t feel my feet, shod as they are in thin sneakers. They feel numb - like slabs of ice - and I imagine them becoming part of nature, crystallising, becoming ice fossils. I remember the snow angels I made as a little girl, lying on my back, snow feathering as I waved my arms and legs. Then Dad would sweep me up and make me fly like an angel. Do crystallised children become angels, I wonder. Maybe Dad and I could be angels together.
The shaking in my arms and legs is slowing down now and I remember a search and rescue show I saw on TV. When hypothermia sets in, the body stops shaking. I need to warm up, need to keep my blood circulating. I try to increase my pace but my steps are slow. Winter is the season of death. Trees are bare, seeds lie dormant, lawns hibernate, birds migrate, flowers die. Maybe I will die too.
Exhausted, I stumble against a bank of snow and fall face first. My cheek feels frozen and my breath is shallow as I close my eyes. Maybe my friends will miss me. Maybe they’ll ask where I am in the morning. I use my last wisps of strength to murmur a prayer. “Dear God, please send an angel to carry me to heaven.”
The next thing I know, hands are lifting me, brushing snow from my clothes, hugging me tight. My mind is slow, befuddled but I remember praying as I fell asleep. My voice is thick as I force the words out. “Are you an angel?”
“Heavens no, child.” He lifts me into the backseat of his car, a golden cocoon of warmth. “You’re almost frozen to death. Lucky I saw you lying there.” The car’s engine is running and he leans over and cranks the heater onto full; pulls out a blanket and wraps it around me. He places his hands on my cheeks and I feel the warmth penetrating, burning.
“You must be God then.” My voice is still slurred, my core frozen but I’m amazed at this answer to prayer.
“I’m just a farmer, lass.” The man’s voice is rough with emotion. “I was on my way home after being delayed by car trouble. Now I understand why.”
I drift off again, hearing snatches of conversation. “Found her in the mountains ... hypothermic ... if an ambulance can meet us ...”
He reminds me of Dad, and long-lost hope seeps into my heart. Winter may be the season of death ... but it’s always followed by spring, isn’t it. I breathe a prayer of thanks as my eyes droop closed.
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