Was that a light? A flicker… a light maybe… yes… yes. The swirling mass of white shifted long enough to glimpse… something.
Light… life, yes, choose light-life.
She blinked rapidly, trying to see, trying to blink past the thick, wet veil, her heart pounding with hope and then fear that it was only a blind man’s dream. She saw it again, wavering yet strong, and something else --- something solid and sure and huge surrounding it. A house. With sudden energy she plunged forward toward the yellow glow. She couldn’t feel her feet any longer, nor her legs or hands either, but salvation was just steps away. Just a few more steps away.
She stumbled in her hurry, falling into a heap, quickly becoming buried half-alive. She tried to stand, drowning in snow, thinking her arms and legs were floundering but seeing that they were just lying there, realizing in a daze that her knees wouldn’t bend, that her legs had turned to wooden posts no longer acknowledging the authority of her brain.
Get up! Everything inside her wailed it. Her throat worked with the effort to scream it aloud, making incoherent sounds of distress, a desperate, discordant harmony in what now appeared a tragedy. Panic set in. She had to concentrate. She had to make her sluggish brain command her legs to push her up. She struggled, clawed, and climbed, digging herself in deeper, trying to stand, but her legs were unable to support her weight. Get up!
She stopped suddenly, her breathing rasping and shallow from the effort, and fell back into the snow in defeat. She couldn’t do it. Couldn’t get up. She gazed up at the sky, where the dark black of night peeked through the shifting white. She felt strangely warm and comfortable. She would be buried now. Detached, she realized that the icy sensation on her cheeks were tears freezing in their trickling tracks. Her face was quickly becoming covered with flakes --- soon she wouldn’t be able to breathe --- but she couldn’t find a reason to brush them away. A voice long recognized as her strong self chided her, You shouldn’t cry; you never cry. Everyone died sometime and this was her time. Another part of her, so long suffocated by sheer will that the voice was faint, spoke softly, sadly. She was going to suffocate now, with her light just ahead, with salvation right around the corner. Like so much of her life, it all was too little too late. She would never be strong enough or brave enough or good enough. It was hopeless to try.
The thought came startlingly clear, as if heaven had decided to reach down and take her hand. But she was warmer now and she was sleepy.
You have life in you yet. You could crawl.
Yes… maybe. She still had some feeling in her arms. She lifted them, feeling funny like they were waving around instead of brushing snow off her face the way she wanted them to. Taking a few deep breaths, she managed to sit up and then turn onto her stomach. She laughed. She did have some strength left. Rising up onto her hands, she rocked back and could see that even though she couldn’t feel her legs she was on her knees. Looking ahead she felt another spark of hope. The wind changed sides and became her ally, shifting again, giving her another glimpse of the light. Bending her head, she inched forward, looking up every now and then, catching occasional flashes of the light. Half-crawling, half-dragging herself through snow that reached her chin, she fought on, swimming in snow, swimming for her shore. She couldn’t quit. She wouldn’t quit this time.
Straining forward, every muscle stretched, reaching toward the light. Her heart pounded louder and louder, faster and faster, a crescendo in the music, straining toward climax. Where is the light?
Suddenly, her head smacked hard against a sturdy object. Reaching up, she felt solid wood. A wall. She breathed thick and heavy, her hands pawing at the surface, icy tears of relief blinding her completely. The door. Must find the door. Groping with unfeeling hands and unseeing eyes, she edged around a corner. Finally the wood changed, indented long and rectangular. This must be at a door. She tried to stand, but her knees buckled. Taking a steely breath of the frigid air that made her lungs crackle inside, she pounded and pounded and pounded with the last of the life still in her.
“Please… God… ” she whispered before collapsing.
Noah Wesley sat by a crackling fire, reading and drinking hot coffee to help shut out the bitter cold. He glanced up at the muffled sound at his door. Just the wind, he thought, not wanting to leave his warm fire and let in an icy blast to check. Anyone he knew would just come barreling through in this weather. No one in their right mind would knock. His broad finger absently traced the words down to his place and he began to read. Once absorbed, he was startled to hear an inner voice say loudly and distinctly, Noah, go and open the door.
Excerpted from SNOW ANGEL © Copyright 2011 by Jamie Carie. Reprinted with permission by B&H Publishing Group. All rights reserved.