TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
Even with the heater on high, and wearing her snow pants, parka, mittens and scarf, she was shaking from the cold. Her shoulders tensed as she she peered over the steering wheel, dodging black ice and snow banks. She knew she’d picked the wrong time of year to pull this off but it was too late to change her plans now. Her mind briefly wandered as she fantasized about her destination. And, that’s when she misjudged a curve…
As she quickly rounded a curve, she was instantly pulled out of her reverie. A tiny, shivering boy was sitting alone by the side of the road…
(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)
The wheels of Jaime’s car slid slightly as she drove over a patch of ice. Her gloved hands tightened against the steering wheel as she regained control. Driving up and down this side of the mountain was dangerous in the best of weather as the road curved around several steep bends that cut off into cliffs. Dozens of cars were reported to slide off every year. Add that to the eight feet of snow the mountain had received this year, and it was not surprising that she had not seen a single car along her drive. The sun had just risen over the horizon and was shining through the evaporating mist that was sweeping around the trunks of the pine trees to her right. As the light swept across the sky, the falling snowflakes became illuminated. She checked the map on her phone. She had another 45 minutes before she made it to the highway and another six hours before she reached her apartment. She itched to step on the gas, to get out of here before a storm left her with no escape, but she had no desire to end up another statistic of the mountain.
She took a sip of hot honey lemon water from the thermos beside her. She squinted out her window, watching the ledge carefully. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw what appeared to be a small figure almost directly in front of the car, she gasped and slammed her breaks. The car slid as she struggled to get ahold of the wheel once more. When the vehicle stopped, she breathed heavily. She looked back out the window, convinced that she had merely imagined the figured in the shadows of the thickly falling snow, but something was definitely out there. She wrapped her coat tightly around herself and stepped out of the car. Sitting under a tree on a bank of snow was a small boy. She grabbed the extra blanket that she had stashed in the trunk of her car and raced over to him. He did not move as he stared out over the cliff. She approached him slowly, hoping he wasn’t already dead. She wrapped the blanket around his shoulders, relieved to see his chest rise and fall slowly.
“How did you get out here all by yourself?” She asked.
He did not answer, or even acknowledge her existence.
“Are you lost? Are your parents in trouble? Let me help you. You can get inside my car for warmth, and we can call 911.” She knelt in front of him.
His big grey eyes remained fixed before him. His skin was growing ever paler, and his dark curls were turning white from snow. He looked like a Greek statue, looking out at a past no one else could remember.
“Dead,” he breathed out suddenly, causing Jaime to step backward.
“What? Who is dead?” She looked around, trying to see signs of other people nearby.
The boy turned his eyes to her, they were stretched wide, and Jaime could see her own shadowed reflection within them. “Both dead.” His cheeks were glistening with frozen tears.
She reached to pull the blanket tighter as he was making no effort to shield himself from the elements. He lifted his small hands before her face; she blinked trying to focus on what she was seeing. Both hands were darkly stained with blood. She let out a gasp.
Shit, shit, shit, she thought. She clenched her fists. She only had a few options and no time to make a discussion.
“I was sleeping. I woke up. They were dead. I ran. They are still in our cabin,” the boy continued, his body was convulsing heavily.
Jaime forced her breathing to steady, “I am here to help you. You are safe now.” Jaime wrapped her arms tightly around the boy, scooping him up. His stiff body relaxing slightly, letting out some of the fear and grief into her shoulder.
She set him by the car and used the last of her warm lemon water to clean his hands off into the snow, the red droplets cutting into the pure white snow at their feet. She then strapped him securely in the back seat, wrapping the blanket around him. She pulled off her socks and scarf and placed them on the boy. She got back into her own seat and started the engine. The boy had fallen asleep, exhausted from terror. Damnit! She thought angrily, looking back at the peaceful face of the child in her car. They had not told her that there was a child. She clicked her seatbelt and eased her foot onto the gas, once again continuing her descent of the mountain.