I set out down the street with my pack on my back, my new boots on my feet, and a length of plastic pipe in my hand for a walking stick. I turn north at the corner. My plan is to walk as straight north as I can, aided by the compass at my belt. It is a beautiful clear day, blue sky with the sun shining, and I hope to get out of town and well into the country fields before snow comes, and hopefully before dark comes.
I make better time than I expected, and I am well out of town, on the country roads, before lunch time. I eat my lunch under a tree on a canal bank, sitting on my waterproof blanket. I stretch. I don’t forget the danger, but the sky is perfectly clear and it feels good to be out here, out in the open, away from the stuffy houses.
I keep moving north after lunch. I come to a small town, more a village than anything, but I don’t see anyone as I make my way past the dilapidated buildings. Soon night is falling and clouds are gathering on the horizon. Will it snow in the night? That is the uncertainty that clenches my stomach and knots my muscles as I hurry towards the river ahead of me, the trees looming like snow monsters out of the gathering dusk.
At the river, I knock the snow out of the ends of my walking stick and kneel down in the snow next to a tree. Burrowing into the snow covering the riverbank, I pile the snow carefully next to the small cave I am excavating among the tree roots. When the cave is large enough for my backpack, I slide it inside, between the roots, and slip in after. It is a bit of a trick to slide in and turn around, but I manage it. I wrap myself in as many clothes as I can wear, including my waterproof blanket. Then I prop my walking stick against the side of the hole and pull the dug-out snow down around myself. Then I hold my breath, drop down into the fluffy snow and curl up on top of my backpack. I pull the hollow end of the walking stick into my mouth. Thankfully, I can breathe.
Will the snow hide me all night? Will I be warm or will I freeze to death? Will it snow, and will the snow monsters detect my breathing tube and know what it means? Will I be alive in the morning? These questions rush through my mind as I begin to fall asleep. I picture my children, safe at home with our neighbor, and drift off to sleep.
- I Can’t Live Like This: Snow Monsters ( #fiction ) (lizbethsgarden.wordpress.com)