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Fiction Romance

She lay limp and almost lifeless. A once comforting, soft, and fluffy friend was now foe, cold and harsh on her face.  Despite her best effort, her body just wouldn’t move. Disoriented, Brielle could neither comprehend her surroundings, nor could she recall what happened. Her vision was a camera out of focus, blurry and distorted. A sharp pain radiated throughout her body. Heaviness had befallen her, and she wanted desperately to sleep; however, the minute she closed her eyes, she feared, would be the moment she would succumb to the darkness. The thought of death terrified her, so she said a quick prayer to a God she hadn’t prayed to in years. If this was her last moment on Earth, she wasn’t taking any chances. She was too young to die and still had too much life left to live. She wanted to finish the book she was writing. She wanted to travel. Her life couldn’t end now! She wasn’t going to give up without a fight. She tried yelling, but all that came out was a soft moan. After a few attempts, she decided to conserve her energy and fell silent once again. Despite her efforts, her eyes were too heavy, and she found herself drifting to sleep.    

At the top of the hill, Carter had just disembarked from the chair lift. This was his first run of the day, and he needed a warm up. Before he descended the mountain, he surveyed below to get his bearings. He squinted into the sunlight and saw the unexpected. She hit that tree like a cartoon character, except nothing about this was funny. Her whole body folded around the tree and she crumpled to the ground. Her coat was a bright pink dot amiss in a sea of white. 

“Get up. C’mon. Get up.” Carter half muttered and half prayed. 

She didn’t move. Without any more thought, his mind, heart, and body were racing for and toward the growing pink dot. When he reached her, he walked out of his skis and knelt down. She had fallen on her back, so he was careful not to move her. 

“Miss, are you okay? Can you hear me? My name is Carter. I’m here to help you.”

Carter gently tapped her shoulder, but the woman did not move. The silence was deafening. He fumbled in his pocket for his phone. The effort to dial 911 was futile; however, since there was no service. The tree was off course slightly, so Carter ran back to the other skiers to flag someone down. After a few tries, a woman stopped and agreed to get help. 

Carter hastily made his way back toward the fallen woman. When he had learned first aid for his lifeguarding job a few too many years ago, he expected to save people from drowning in a pool of water not from drowning in an oversized coat on crystalized water at the top of a hill. Nonetheless, he was grateful for his some, albeit basic, knowledge. When rendering first aid, Carter had been taught to remember the ABC’s. First, was to clear the airway. Without knowing whether she had a spinal injury; however, Carter did not want to risk moving her head. He assumed that she hadn’t chocked on anything and skipped to the second step, breathing. He knelt down and put his cheek toward her mouth and nose. His tilted his head and watched for the rise and fall of her chest. A small sigh of relief escaped from him when he confirmed she was breathing. To finish out the ABC’s he felt for her pulse even though he knew she was alive. It wasn’t strong, but it was there. He then proceeded to gently pat her arms and legs to determine whether she had any hidden wounds. He suspected she had broken bones, but that was above his pay grade.   

“You’re going to be okay. Just keep breathing,” he told the woman. He didn’t know who he was trying to convince, himself, or the woman.  

The tree was the clear victor. The woman’s right eye was swollen. Without a first aid kit, Carter improvised. He removed the scarf from his neck and gently wiped blood from her face. Fortunately, the cuts appeared to be superficial.   

Help was not arriving soon enough, although it had probably only been a few minutes, it felt like an eternity. Carter didn’t want to risk leaving the woman, but he was growing concerned that help wasn’t coming as expected. He tried to remain calm. Worried that the woman would go into shock, he removed his coat and placed it over her. It wasn’t the coldest day they had seen, but it wasn’t the warmest, especially since the woman’s bed of snow was melting and soaking her clothes.

Brielle opened her left eye and squinted with her right. The sun blinded her. The sun didn’t bother her too long; however, as a face appeared a few inches away from hers. The light cast this strange man in an angelic glow. She thought for a moment that she had died and gone to heaven.

“You’re awake!” The man said.

All Brielle could manage was another moan.

“It’s okay.” He held her hand and gave it a light squeeze. A temporary warmness flooded her body. “Don’t move. Do you remember what happened?”

Brielle moaned to show that she did not.

“You skied into a tree. I’ve already flagged down help. Should be any minute now. I’m…I’m Carter by the way. 

Brielle attempted to focus on the man’s warm brown eyes. They were slightly darker than his short hair. He was sporting a five o’clock shadow, and she wanted to trace his freckles with her finger. 

“Miss! Miss! I wish I knew your name. Come back to me.” Carter felt the woman’s neck, except this time there was no pulse. 

He immediately unzipped her jacket and started CPR. “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.” He sang to keep his compressions at the right speed. It was ironic, he knew, but that random trivia fact might just save this woman’s life.

When Carter began to tire, help arrived in the nick of time. Breathing a sigh of relief, Carter let the ski patrol take over. One of the crew gave Carter his jacket back. He hadn’t noticed his shivering until he became a bystander. 

“How long has she been down?” One of them asked him.

“A few minutes.” He responded.

“Do you know this woman?”

“No. She was alone when she hit the tree.”

Carter watched as the ski patrol hooked the woman to a defibrillator. The scene was cyclically choreographed. One person did compressions. Then one yelled clear. The woman did her solo jump, and the rest of the team rejoined the dance.   

This woman was a stranger to Cater and yet he cringed when he saw her body jump with each shock wave.

***

Brielle opened her eyes. The UV light had been replaced by a florescent one. Machines were beeping, she was in a bed that was not her own, and wires were attached to her. To her surprise, Brielle’s family all stood around her. They explained what happened, which helped Brielle piece together her memory.  Her sister expressed remorse for staying in the lodge and allowing Brielle to go down the mountain by herself. She vowed she would never leave Brielle again, which was cute, if not smothering.    

“Where’s the man?” Brielle asked her mother.

“What man, sweetie?” Her mother said.

“There was a man on the hill with me. His name was…It was…” Disappointed, she couldn’t remember.

“Oh, honey, I don’t know. I didn’t see anyone. The ski patrol got you off the mountain.”

Brielle wasn’t satisfied with her mother’s answer. The man had to be real. Or was he?

A month later…

Brielle was healing well; however, she was going stir crazy in the house. After much pleading, her sister agreed to let her walk to the coffee shop down the street. Ever since the ski incident Brielle hadn’t been able to get the man out of her thoughts. She was beginning to think she had fabricated him in her delirium. As she passed the coffee shop window, she noticed a man inside at a table. Her eyes locked on his brown eyes. She recognized those eyes instantly. The man noticed her too, and for a moment they stared at each other. Brielle pulled herself together and went into the shop. She approached the man at his table.

“You…” She said.

“Hi. I’m Carter.” He smiled.

“Brielle.” She managed. 

Without thinking, she embraced Carter, enveloping him. He didn’t seem to mind though, and he held her until she let go.

“Would you care to join me?” He gestured to an open seat.

“I would like that.” She grinned and took a seat.

September 16, 2022 04:17

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16 comments

Annalisa D.
01:22 Oct 10, 2022

This was a great story. As a beginner level skier, I always get so nervous about accidents like that so I was instantly very concerned for her. I like how you opened it in a way that the reader wasn't sure what was happening yet. I really liked this.

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Kate Winchester
02:43 Oct 10, 2022

Thanks so much! I have only skied a few times and it was years ago. I think the older I get the more afraid I become lol.

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Graham Kinross
02:12 Sep 22, 2022

This is cute, a nice antidote for my mood after reading the news. I know the song for the rhythm in cpr is staying alive but that’s always going to be darkly funny. It’s a nice twist on the fireman rescue thing.

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Kate Winchester
02:23 Sep 22, 2022

Thank you. 🤣 It is darkly funny.

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Graham Kinross
02:33 Sep 22, 2022

I imagine there must be some people half conscious thinking “please don’t let this be the last thing I hear.”

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Kate Winchester
02:36 Sep 22, 2022

Hahaha I hadn’t thought of that

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Graham Kinross
02:39 Sep 22, 2022

There must be alternatives, I guess the lyrics are appropriate but I might cringe to death as it was happening.

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Kate Winchester
03:38 Sep 22, 2022

😂

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Amanda Lieser
01:39 Sep 17, 2022

Hi Kate! Glad to see you again! Oh my gracious this story melted my heart. I love that it starts with a random act of kindness. I also love that we got to have a happy ending. This story was beautifully written! Nice job!

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Kate Winchester
01:45 Sep 17, 2022

Thank you! It feels good to write again. I’m glad you enjoyed it. ☺️

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AnneMarie Miles
22:47 Sep 16, 2022

Such a sweet story, gave me goosebumps! I'm so curious to know if Carter remembers her. "She vowed she would never leave Brielle again, which was cute, if not smothering." The bit about it being smothering made me laugh for some reason, lol. Thanks for sharing.

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Kate Winchester
01:09 Sep 17, 2022

Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it and appreciated my humor. I think he does remember her. 😉

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AnneMarie Miles
04:04 Sep 17, 2022

I love the mystery and happy ending! Any plans/thoughts for this week's prompts?

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Kate Winchester
12:45 Sep 17, 2022

Thank you. I haven’t decided which prompt yet, but I’m hoping to get a story out this week. 🤗

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AnneMarie Miles
14:04 Sep 17, 2022

Awesome! I hope the words flow smoothly for you this week!

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Kate Winchester
14:57 Sep 17, 2022

Thanks! Same to you!

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