I could practically feel icicles forming under my nose as the blizzard swirled around me. My knees buckled under me; at least I thought they did. I had lost feeling in most of my body a while ago. My snowshoes hadn’t given up on me yet but they would soon. Just minutes earlier a misstep had plunged me under the ice and into the frozen water. The water had filled my lungs, and, as darkness closed in around me, light rushed into my face. I had somehow clawed my way out of it, but it had felt. . . strange. It was a near death experience, though. Perhaps it was meant to be strange. 

I kept trudging on through the endless blizzard. Everything was white but my own body and the occasional glimpse of gray sky above me. The snowflakes bit harshly into my face, and I didn’t want to go on anymore. But I had to. I had long ago forgotten the reason for my departure from the schoolhouse; perhaps we had ran out of food? Certainly not wood, we had stocked up for the winter and had enough for days. The kids were all thirteen to sixteen and I had decided they were old enough to be on their own for a bit. The other teacher, my fiancé, would step in the case of an emergency; surely it would all be fine? 

Well, I had no choice but to trudge on. So trudge on I did. Was I looking for the General store? Yes, I think I was. This was the right direction, after all. The reason I had fallen through was that I had taken a shortcut by walking on the lake. I felt something in my toes. They hurt. I looked down in wonder. I could fe- hold on. I wasn’t leaving footprints! I screamed. And screamed. And sat down, still screaming. Tears ran down my face as I heaved sobs. 

This wasn’t what was supposed to happen! I was going to marry John next month! I had a dress, and it was all planned. I would never get to be the gorgeous bride I had always wanted to be. I would never have a child. I would never move into a little, honeysuckle-covered house and tend to the gardening myself. No grandchildren to tell exciting stories. I wouldn’t die five years after John, surrounded by my family. 

All I could ever do is watch as he did those things with someone else. I had seen him looking at my best friend; she was about my size and the dress would probably fit her. 

This had to stop. I had to pull myself together. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to go on? Maybe an angel or the Grim Reaper was waiting with my body? In that case, I had to go back. It had only been about ten minutes; they might still be there. To make sure I really was dead, I looked at my arm. And nearly threw up. I was turning see-through! I fell back down and started sobbing again. 

Ok, ok, I had to get to that hole. Maybe I should run to get there quicker? Yes, that’s a good idea. I broke into a sprint. My clothes were probably slowing my down, so I threw them off until I was wearing nothing but my dress. I abruptly halted. Something was wrong. My skin became more see-through and my dress turned long and white. Then it clicked. I didn’t need to get back to my body! I was disappearing slowly. I needed to get back to the schoolhouse to say goodbye to John! Even if he couldn’t see me, I had to do it. I couldn’t be at peace until I did. I hadn’t said goodbye when I had left. I had just kissed his cheek and left.

I sprinted back to the schoolhouse, stopping only once as I became clearer. I managed to walk through the walls, although it made me mostly clear.

John was sitting at his desk. He looked calm, but I knew him well enough to tell he was worried out of his mind.

“Goodbye, John,” I whispered, walking up to his desk. The kids were panicking a bit. Susan King had broken down sobbing. I halted as I got clearer. I could read everyone’s minds now. John was terrified, Emmy had a crush on Justin, and. . . Evangeline thought Emmy was pretty?! Oh well, I suppose I couldn’t do anything about it now but wish her the best. She was a sensible girl, after all. I hoped no one killed her for something as trivial as that.

“I hope you don’t miss me too much,” I whispered, continuing on from what I had said earlier. “And I do hope your heart doesn’t trouble you too much. I wish you a long and happy life, my love, and hope you end up getting married. I will look forward to seeing you, even if you come with someone else in my place in your heart. Just. . . be happy, won’t you?” A flash of light came out of nowhere. Someone stood there, wearing a white dress like my own.

“Hello. I’ve come to take you to judgement,” they said calmly.

“Oh. Alright then,” I said. “Will the blizzard end soon? Are there any other deaths?”

“No,” they said. “Suzy Carpenter will nearly die, but you are the only death. John is going to die of heart problems from the stress of your death and trying to find your body in less than a month.” Tears started streaming down my face. 

“Oh,” I said. They nodded.

“I’m sorry. The blizzard will end in two hours.”

“Can I just say goodbye to my students?” I asked. They nodded. “Goodbye, Susan King. I hope Gilbert Lloyd likes you back. Goodbye, Emmy Stein, I hope you move back to Germany like you want. Goodbye, Evangeline Johnson, I hope no one finds out about your secret. Goodbye, Justin Woods, I hope your Father doesn’t pull you out. Goodbye, Gilbert Stone, I hope you never lose your sense of humor.”

“We have to leave,” they said suddenly.

“Alright,” I said. “But who are you?” They smiled.

“Remember your twin sister who died?” Tears formed in my eyes.

“Tierny?” I cried. She stepped forward and hugged me. The room vanished around us, and I felt at peace. It was time to start a new leg of my journey.

January 08, 2020 20:22

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