It was snowing when Lea looked out of her window, huge, soft flakes floating down like large, white feathers onto the plump, rounded duvet of the garden. A beautiful sight, in most people’s eyes, she reflected.
To Lea it wasn’t beautiful. It was cold and heartless like the snow that had taken Jamie away from her.
Her eyes were dry, she had no tears left; the crying she had done could have floated a flotilla of ships but now there were none left.
Her wedding-dress was hanging up on the picture-rail where it had lived since it was delivered. Lea couldn’t touch it and her mother and sister didn’t know if they were doing right or wrong at any given point, so there it remained.
Lea looked at her framed picture of Jamie, all dressed up in the salopettes in which he practically lived.
They were bright yellow, supposedly a `safe’ colour because it was so highly visible in the snow - oh! how Jamie loved the snow! And Austria was full of the stuff. Well, she’d never go there again, not even to visit the place it happened.
She couldn’t understand how people made pilgrimages to places where loved ones had died, it seemed to her to be, well, irrelevant. Their souls, if they had them, were well-departed from those places by the time the relatives got there, although she realised that some people believed in restless spirits being anchored to a particular place they had been attached to in life or at the moment of their deaths.
Lea stood up and looked around the room. She’d had this room since her family had moved there when she was three and she loved it. It had shared all of her secrets, her woes and her triumphs. And it was to have been her wedding bower.
Her parents had decided to buy a bungalow on the coast when they retired so Jamie and Lea had immediately asked if they could buy Stoney Acres, a proposition which pleased the entire family, as they could still come back for visits.
They hadn’t reckoned on their first visit being in such tragic circumstances.
The wedding had been booked for March 22nd - a Spring wedding had always been Lea’s dream - but St.Chad’s church had suffered a break-in and had been vandalised to such an extent that it was rendered unusable, at least for some weeks after the proposed date.
So, they had discussed it, and decided that St.Chad’s was where they wanted their wedding to be and so they had plumped for an early honeymoon, rather than lose the deposit - and the best snow - so they re-booked the church for two weeks after their return from Austria, provided it was finished by then.
They had had four wonderful, matchless days. Ski-ing, drinking, making love and just talking and planning the fantastic future and children they would have.
On the fifth day, the accident happened and Lea didn’t want to think about that anymore. She’d thought and thought about the events of that horrific day over and over again, but it didn’t make it any easier and it didn’t bring her and Jamie back together again.
She left the room and wandered about the house like she had since she’d got back. It was so familiar, so well-loved, but it didn’t take away the sense of loss she felt about Jamie. Nothing would. Not ever.
Her mother’s door was ajar and so, soundlessly, she entered. Her mother had been devastated at the news of the accident and Lea didn’t want to upset her anymore, but she felt she had to speak to her, try to console her in some way.
Margaret, her mother, was sitting at her dressing-table, going through the motions of brushing her hair and putting on a little make-up. The lines between nose and mouth had deepened over the last few weeks and her eyes held a sadness that had to be experienced to be understood.
Lea approached her mother and was about to place a hand on her shoulder when a soft, familiar voice called her name.
“Lea.” It was Jamie’s voice! She’d know it anywhere! “Lea!”
Lea turned, and framed in the doorway, was her love, her life, her Jamie.
“Jamie!” she cried, ”Oh, Jamie! I thought I’d never see you again!” and she was in his arms. It was minutes before she could speak and her eyes were shining with tears again.
“Oh, Jamie! I love you so much. I couldn’t stand the thought of never seeing you again.”
“Nor I you, my darling! But now, we never need part again. I knew I’d find you here.”
For the first time, she noticed what he was wearing. Yellow salopettes. She stared uncomprehending.
“Mum, look, Jamie’s here! He’s alright...” Lea moved to put her hand on her mother’s shoulder and Jamie caught it in a firm, but gentle, grip.
“No Lea, don’t do it,” Jamie’s voice was sad. “Look in the mirror.”
Lea looked and saw her mother, her gentle, beautiful mother, tears rolling down her cheeks. There was no-one else in the room.
“Come on Lea, we’ve found each other, that’s what counts now. You won’t help her by doing that. You’ll give her hope where there is none and that would be too cruel. She’ll never get used to losing us in that avalanche but it will get less painful as long as we don’t interfere.”
As he put his arm around her, another figure appeared in the mirror.
“Come on Mum,” Kerry, Lea’s sister put her hand through Lea’s and onto her mother’s shoulder, “the cars are here and everyone’s waiting to leave for St.Chad’s.”
Margaret dabbed her eyes and said to her younger daughter, “It’s alright Kerry. Somehow I feel a lot better now, as if Lea is now at rest. I know it sound’s daft, but , but I feel like I’ve felt her wandering about this house since it happened, but just now, there was a change, like a kind of peace.” She stood up to leave.
“Well,” suggested Kerry in a voice full of emotion, “perhaps she’s been looking for something, and now she’s found it.”
Lea looked at Jamie and now noticed that she too was wearing a ski-suit.
“Come on Lea,” Jamie put his arm around her shoulders, “they’re waiting for us.”