Whiteout – Sunday Photo Fiction

Photo by: Alastair Forbes

Whiteout

Twenty minutes had passed when he realized she hadn’t returned. One thought immediately struck him.

Does she have it with her?

Barry remembered giving Tawnee the angel at Christmas. His moccasins sat beside her hiking boots before the fireplace. He could see her shoulders slump as she unwrapped the pink angel figurine.

She was an atheist who couldn’t understand Barry’s beliefs. Tawnee’s parents were hard-core hippies who lived in communes years after everyone else quit. Somehow she’d never absorbed her parents studies of Buddhism and Wiccan earth magic. Geology and empirical science had become her temple. By contrast, Barry was raised Catholic. Perhaps the ways of his religion led him to a fascination with talismans, chanting, and meditation. He wore necklaces of crystals, and smudged with sacred sage once a month.

They were as different as two people could be, and they loved each other even more because of it.

“Oh it’s beautiful Rose Quartz,” she said, as firelight flickered across her high cheekbones. “But Barry. I don’t believe in…”

“I know,” interrupted Barry. “Just keep it with you always. I’ll feel like you’re safer with it.” She did as he asked though she thought it silly. She never went anywhere without it. It was a measure of how much she loved him.

One of North Dakota’s famous whiteouts struck six weeks later. As Barry meditated, seeking greater awareness, she muttered something about getting the mail. She slipped out the door while Barry failed to warn her. Though the mailbox was only 100 feet away, the maelstrom of snow in a whiteout made the simple, deadly. In a whiteout you literally couldn’t see your hand before your face. Left and right became meaningless; direction, a dream.

Barry searched the house frantically, hoping she’d returned and he missed it. Panic struck him when he realized she was truly gone. By the time he’d donned warm clothes, she was lost in the snow for an hour. Outside, the whiteout had ceased, but all landmarks were erased. Featureless fields surrounded the house. Trees and houses barely formed lumps above the snow. She could be anywhere.

Barry began searching to his left. Nearly every human being has one leg longer than the other. Tawnee knew her right leg was longer than her left; she’d measured it. That meant if lost she would tend to turn left. After twenty minutes of searching, he found the pink angel in the snow. She was out there, and he was looking in the right direction. He carefully placed the angel in his pocket.

Twenty minutes more. He knew she wore warm pajamas and a thick robe. Was it enough to keep her alive?

And then he saw something that chilled him. It was the angel. The heat from her body meant it melted a little bowl in the snow. But he’s already found it. How? He looked in his pocket. The angel wasn’t there. Did he drop it and circle around unknowingly? Was he lost too? He placed the angel in his pocket again, minding the lumps of snow carefully.

After two hours, he spied a hole in a snow drift beside a nearly-buried oak. Tawnee, ever the scientist, knew she could stay alive by burrowing into the snow. A hole in the snow can be surprisingly warm. Most importantly, it can keep someone alive.

Barry led her home and to the warmth of their fireplace. When Tawnee’s teeth stopped chattering, she said, “I’m so glad you found me.”

“I thought I wouldn’t until I found your angel. It was really smart to drop it and leave a trail.”

“What do you mean?” she said, reaching inside her robe. She held the pink figurine up. “You said to hold it always. I had it with me the whole time!”
___________________________________
Author’s Notes:
Where I grew up, I remember reading about people getting lost in the snow while trying to get their mail, every year…I don’t live there anymore.
Whiteout: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteout_%28weather%29
Smudging: http://www.taosherb.com/store/sacred-herbs.html

Each week, Photographer Alastair Forbes offers a photo as a writing prompt for Flash Fiction. This is my story in answer to the photo above. Look here for more stories: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/sunday-photo-fiction-january-4th-2015/

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About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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26 Responses to Whiteout – Sunday Photo Fiction

  1. jwdwrites says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this story Eric, glad you didn’t stop at 200 words!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Robin says:

    I love the hint of spiritual mystery. I don’t know how you do it, but you wrote great character development into such a short story. I’m glad you gave it a happy ending. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Thanks Robin! I love spiritual mystery. It’s fascinating to me. I hoped the characters would be full and complete as possible. It sounds like that worked. I also wanted something like a late Christmas story, so it needed a happy ending. Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks very much for stopping in! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. julespaige says:

    First – a happy and healthy New Year to you and yours.
    We had a blizzard our way in 1996 – I can imagine that white out.
    And while it is nice to put on twisty endings… I’m glad of your happy ending.
    Angels do work in mysterious ways. Some say finding feathers or Lucky Pennies reminds them of or are messages of those they loved. Or seeing butterflies – I think I remember that to.

    Anyway I tried to implement different beliefs because really I think all are acceptable.
    There was a move I think it was titled something like ‘The Five People You’ll Meet in Heaven’.
    Some folks though believe in reincarnation. That the either there are limited souls that get reincarnated (and once in a new body often all old lives are forgotten) or there are limitless souls – some of which have never lived as humans. Or the angels we meet on earth like in the series;
    “Touched by and Angel”. I kind of like how that show portrayed the Angel of Death as a guide rather than some ghostly figure without a face in a black robe with a sickle.

    I also think of the play “Our Town”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Town

    Thanks for the visit… and letting me ramble a tad. 🙂

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      Thanks Jules! A Happy New Year to your family too. I think angels work in ways that are difficult to understand or even register proof of their existence. Things just happen that are inexplicably good. That’s what I tried to portray in this story.

      I think it’s awesome that you try many beliefs. They are all worth looking at. Keep and practice what works for you, and toss away the rest. I remember “Our Town.” That’s a wonderful play. Come on back and ramble any time you like. I’ll keep a light on for you. 🙂

      Like

  4. Oh Danny Boy says:

    Super as always! About your note: I grew up in the cold midwest and I also have never returned. Never want to here the term “Will Chill Index” again!

    DJ

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Ha! Yes, the winters in the Midwest can be brutal. A lot of folks just don’t understand Wind Chill. I guess nobody can until they “feel” it. I have no intention of going back there. My wife’s knee locks up in the cold so there’s little chance of it anyway. I’m okay with hot summers and mild winters. Glad you enjoyed the story, and thanks very much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. babso2you says:

    Wow! That was really good! Wow! My heart was thumping in my chest! Loved this!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Now that I’ve read your beautiful story, I’m convinced that I must have been channeling Tawnee and Barry when I wrote mine. The angel made us do it! Excellent work. I’m looking forward to reading more.

    Like

  7. Al says:

    That gave me goosebumps and a tear to my eye. A truly magnificent story. One of your best. Even though I say that often, you seem to out do yourself regularly.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. phylor says:

    The first 2 lines drew me into your story. The dialogue at the end very fitting. I believe that certain objects hold special spiritual meanings. As such, they are not bound by the physical laws.
    The angel was in two places she was needed. With Tawnee and helping to show Barry the way.
    Wonderful story! I was engaged through out. Thank you for writing about the specialness of certain objects.

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      I agree. Sufficiently empowered items can hold great power, and bypass verifiable physical laws. Someday science will understand how this unexplainable stuff works. I think there is an explanation, we just don’t know what it is, yet. I’m glad to know the story captured you in the first two lines. They were crafted to do just that. Good to know it worked. Thank you so much for the kind words. I really appreciate that! 🙂

      Like

  9. Eric, Enjoyable story. I believe miracles happen. We just don’t recognize them as such. Good description, dialogue, and use of the prompt. I love happy endings. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Oh, I love happy endings too. I think you’re right about miracles. They happen around us all the time if we look carefully. I’m glad the story succeeded in many points. Thanks much for the critique and the visit! 🙂

      Like

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