“WHERE ARE WE GOING”, she asked? “This isn’t the right road. It’s much too narrow. It can’t be right!” He slowed down. “Well, the signpost back there said the right turn was to Overfield and the left to Underfield and we took the left and are going to Underfield so it must be the right road”.
The car slowed as increasingly large mounds of snow and ice were negotiated. It was getting dark already and was also very cold. The air was still, silent and grey. No signs of life. The birds had already found somewhere to roost for the night. They also hadn’t passed any houses for some time either. No welcoming gates, dogs barking, signs of lit rooms with supper on the table and a warm fire.
She spoke again, “we’re lost; we’re definitely lost! We must go back, the road is getting even narrower and there’s nothing ahead except dark trees. I don’t like it here”. An owl hooted above and a dark shape glided by.
Crunch, crack. The car shuddered to a halt.
“Well, perhaps you’re right”, he said. “Though that signpost definitely pointed this way to Underfield”. He put the car into reverse and it shuddered back. Crunch, crack again and then a whirring screech and no movement at all now except for the wheels racing round.
“Oh, no! We can’t be stuck”, she said. “I won’t stay here, I won’t. You have to get the car out”. He tried again and the high-pitched whirr of racing wheels got louder. Lumps of snow, ice and earth hit the window at top speed as though the leaning trees were throwing snowballs. She sunk down in despair, “I can’t believe this. What are we going to do?”
He looked at her sheepishly, “Well, I’ll go for help and you stay here and keep warm”. “Warm! Warm! I can’t keep warm!”, she cried. “I’ll freeze to death here. I’m coming with you”.
They set off back down the narrow snowy lane. Not touching. Not speaking. Both angry.
It was even darker now and difficult to see underfoot. She moved closer and took his arm. His warmth penetrated her coat.
They walked on, further and further. It seemed endless. She clutched his arm tighter. She looked around her. It was dark now but the moon had risen casting its cold, crystalline light on the white carpet below. It was very beautiful and so quiet. For the first time that day she began to relax. She moved closer to him and felt his presence and warmth. She actually hadn’t felt this calm in ages and she couldn’t remember when she had felt so relaxed with him.
Who was he? They had been married for a few years now but did she really know him? She knew his irritating habits but did she know his deepest thoughts and feelings? She remembered the man she had first met and the qualities she had glimpsed then but now seemed to have faded away. Why was that, she thought. Is it something to do with me? Was there any space for the things I saw? And what about me? I’ve changed also but do I like myself now?
Deep in thought she didn’t see the light of the farmhouse until he spoke. “We’ll get help there”, he said. “It’s going to be alright.” She felt tears running down her cheeks and thought, Yes, it will be alright. Things must change.
They made their way down the snowy path towards the welcoming light over the door. They knocked and it opened, the warmth flooding out wrapping them in a protective hug. Yes, life would change. It was going to be all right.
by Gil McHattie ©2013