When I awoke my first thought was that my feet were freezing cold. I mean, seriously, freezing-to-the-point-of-numbness-cold. When I looked down I could see that my toes were embedded in thick snow and I could only see my ankle bones peeking through the ice. Bemused, I wiggled my toes and they broke through the surface of the snow and I wondered what the hell I had done with my boots.
I heard footsteps crunch behind me and a familiar buzzing moved across my shoulder-blades and down my back. I felt warm breath on my neck but didn’t flinch.
“I’ll want that jumper back at some point you know,” Michael said.
I looked down and saw that I was still wearing his sweater. I wrapped my arms around my body and hugged the material to me. “Why are we here?” I asked, looking at the dense woodland that encircled us. I could see dark spots between the trees, so dense that my eyes could not penetrate the blackness. I didn’t want to think about what might be lurking in those places.
“I was going to ask you the same thing,” he said quietly.
Finally I turned around and looked up into his face. His blue eyes were full of worry.
“I miss her,” I said simply.
“You won’t find her here.”
“But it’s where I left her,” I frowned.
When I turned back round to face the woods, they had gone. I was standing on the edge of the forest looking at the little grey cottage, lights twinkling where I had left them on, awaiting my return.
“She’s not here, Sarah,” Michael said anxiously behind me but I was already walking away from him towards the lights.
I picked up pace as I crossed the lane, hardly feeling the cold against my bare skin anymore. I pushed the gate open, moving the flurry of snow that had built up behind it, and ran up the garden path towards the unvarnished wooden front door with its un-polished brass door knocker.
The door was ajar.
Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2011