Thin wisps of snow twirled around the small cabin, as the woman looked almost despairingly into the sky. She knew beyond any doubt that it was just a brief lull before it began to snow again. You might say the calm before the storm. The woman, a vibrant twenty-six year old, paced in front of the window before she turned away in disgust. The weather had changed drastically between the time she was driven up here, and last night. It was pleasant enough to began with but sometime during the night it had changed from good, to bad, to worse. Leah wrung her hands together before she ran them through her short auburn hair. It was bitterly cold in the cabin and Leah, could not think of anything else to do but go to bed. It was not the food that she was worried about. It was the warmth. She had tried and tried and looked for all she was worth to find a match anything that would lit a fire. But to no avail. She reached inside her pocket and checked her cell phone again. "No service." She yelled aloud for the third time within the hour. What the hell good were cell phones if you could not have to convenience of using them in emergencies. The cabin itself had a phone but was not working. And she supposed that the electric would not come on for a while. It seemed as though she was going to be in for a tough night. She winced as she looked toward the window again. The snow was almost blinding... also mesmerizing. The crystal white diamonds feel silently to the earth as she walked back toward the window. The wind hollered at her to retreat. She would if she could. Regardless the snow was beautiful. It had begun to snow yesterday afternoon and already there was a draft of snow about two foot high underneath the kitchen window. She would not dare open it now. Even she understood that it was more terrible to venture out with weather such as it is. She looked over toward the small hill that loomed just about the cabin itself reminder her of a monster. It had a small tree that perturbed from its side gave the illusion of a hand reaching out to grab her. She shuttered when the wind howled again and backed away from the window. She tried her cell again before she slowly walked through the three-room cabin to the bed. It was a homey feel despite the drastic situation that she appeared to have gotten herself into, the bed was a comfortable as any bed she had ever been in. The mattress had to have been stuffed with an array of feathers. The closest thing that she could think of was perhaps goose feathers. She striped out of her bulky coat and scarf, but kept her socks, turtleneck shirt, and long johns on, and slipped into the bed. She shivered for a brief moment before she actually felt the warmth of her own body heat and closed her eyes to sleep.
When she had awaked she realized that she kicked the covers off, and onto the floor. She rushed to retrieve them when she noticed that she was not at all cold. She sat up in the bed very slowly and looked around. She was still at the cabin and it was still snowing outside as far as she could tell. She looked over into the living area and jumped out of bed. There was a roaring fire crackling inside the big fireplace. She rushed over to make sure she was not dreaming. Either this is real or this is one helluva dream, she thought to herself as she rubbed her hands together surprised to say the least that there was actual warmth emanating from the fire. She still expected it to be a dream or a hallucination. Maybe worse... she was dead and this was her hell or she was a ghost. She shuttered at the thought of death and turned around to the kitchen. FOOD. She distinctly caught a whiff of some sort of food. Although she could not make it out it was food nonetheless. Oh my god... I am dead she thought as she walked over toward the kitchen and survey what or who had intruded on her "home"... at least for four more days it was hers. As she rounded the corner to the other half of the kitchen she stopped dead in her tracks. Sitting in a nook just off the kitchen was a person. The long jet black hair hung down the back and stopped at the beginning of the persons rear. From what Leah could tell the person did not have what one would call a model figure. Whoever the person was, had more like a mountainic build. Pretty built but not overly so. Leah could not tell what the person was wearing but she was soon to find out. The person began to turn around. Leah stood gaping when she realized that the person was a woman who looked to be not much older then herself. She sidestepped her way toward the nook and stood watching the woman. The woman followed her with her eyes not turning her head as she watched.
"You are?" Leah asked, her voice shaking a little as she did.
"Do you live here?" The woman asked surprised.
"No," Leah said as she shook her head, "I'm just staying here until I can leave. It was supposed to be for a week. But now I don't know. The storm is pretty bad." Leah gestured with her head toward the window. The woman followed her gesture and nodded.
"Yeah... I remember snows like this. It could snow for a solid week until someone came to resuce you. I've seen them worse... You're not from around here are you? I was freezing in this place when I got here. No fire... you bundled in the covers like you were... you could have slipped into unconsciousness like that in this kind of weather." She said full of concern.
"Who are you?" Leah asked squinting her eyes looking intently at her intruder.
"My name's Korey... I... used to live here. I just thought I'd visit again before I left town. I was surprised to find this place occupied. I mean my understanding was that it had been abandoned... some years ago."
"I wouldn't know anything about that. A friend of mine owns this place and offered it to me for the week. My nerves have been a wreck for a while. I thought that the snowy season was over. I guess this would be what one would have to call an unseasonable snow." Korey smiled. Then added.
"I think you're right." She said sarcastically, concluding, "you're not even prepared for this sort of stuff. If I'd never came along they might have been carrying you out of here on a stretcher. What kind of supplies do you have here?"
"Uhmmm..." Leah said biting her nail, "I ahhh wasn't ready to spend a cold week here. I mean I knew it would have been cold but... not like this. Uhhh... food for a week... not that many clothes. I planned on walking around here nude actually." Korey looked at her and smiled when she said the nude thing. Leah pretended not to notice. "I forgot my last pack in the jeep. It was my essentials... matches, flare gun, first aid... you know that sort of thing."
"So you're walking around in that get up because why... ?" Leah blushed, smiled and walked to a stool to sit.
"What did you make? It smells wonderful."
"Winter stew... carrots, cabbage, potatoes... that sort of thing... dumplings and my own special recipe of blueberry cobbler. I've been told it's the best this side of Denver... not meaning to brag or anything." Leah looked at her "intruder/guest" amazed. Her is this mountain woman with looks of no real "value" but had a voice that could calm the wildest mood. It reminded her of slow moving brook... smooth and cool ebbing slowly across age old rocks. Korey stared back with her green eyes at her before she stood to serve Leah. Leah stood up. "No... you don't have to do that. I... I'll get it... really."
"Not hardly." Korey breezed pasted Leah in jeans and a thick shirt, gesturing with her hands for Leah to sit back down. "I made it... I'll get it. You're really my guest... this used to be my house remember... sit down." Leah sat down and watched as Korey lifted the lid to the food. Steam rose out, wrapped around Korey's head and rose to the ceiling as she lifted the spoon to began dishing out the food. Leah stared. She hadn't noticed before that although Korey would not fit into the Hollywood's standards of beautiful, she did have an unearthly, if not striking beauty of her own. She moved with such grace and pose that Leah found it hard to believe that this woman WAS a mountain woman. Leah continued to stare as Korey brought the food over to her. Her footsteps back made a hush whispered sound across the sturdy hardwood floor making almost no sound at all. Korey sat the two ceramic bowls down with a light thud on the rectangle oak table and left to retrieve silverware and drinks. As she started back a few minutes later she exclaimed, "The electricity's out. Did you know?" When Leah nodded her head she continued, "Before night falls we have to get candles together. I figure there are some lanterns around here. I would rather use those then candles... less of a fire hazard. When the temperature drops... things get pretty bad around here. So if you don't mind I'll stay the night. I'm used to this sort of thing... you're not so you'd better take the couch in front of the fire. I'll take the bed. Besides I can keep the fire going to last the night. Don't know what it will be like tomorrow morning but I do know that you're likely to be camped in here a bit longer then you intended." She concluded as she sat down opposite Leah offering a drink and a spoon. Leah sipped her drink not realizing just how thirsty she was and then gulped it. Korey laughed. A light breathy laugh and Leah looked up at her. Korey picked up her spoon with no other word and began to eat her food. The spoon clinked nosily against the bowl. Leah noticed Korey was shaking. She was nervous. Of what? Leah wondered as she asked her, "Where do you live now? It seems like you thrive in this sort of weather. So you must live where it's still snowy and cold right?" Leah asked, as she tasted her stew. "This is good... really good." She added as she took another huge spoonful but it was too hot and she spit it back into the bowl. Korey looked up. A look of melancholy on her face then smiled saying, "I live some ways from here. I got an appointment with an... advertising firm that took me through here and I just wanted to see the old place before I left that's all." Korey added before she spooned more stew into her mouth. Leah realized that it was in an effort to finish the conversation. She shrugged and they finished lunch in virtual silence.
When the last of the cobbler was put away Korey announced that she needed to go outside to gather some wood to out last the storm. Leah objected and said that she needed to go with her. As much as Korey tried to reason with her, in the end it was Korey and Leah who ventured out into the cold.
Leah tucked her head inside her wool lined suede coat and began wading through the almost waist high snow. She looked ahead of her to see Korey walking easily through the drifts of snow. Bracing almost effortlessly to combat the wind. Leah couldn't understand it. But then again Korey was a mountain woman and this was normal to her she reasoned. Just then a strong gust of wind blew and knocked Leah off her feet. She slumped in the snow with an "oof". Korey turned around just in time to see her fall and rushed over to her side. The snow hardly crunched under her feet as she reached her. Leah looked up at her. Her black hair striking against the white backdrop of the earth, and excepted her hand as Korey helped her to her feet. Korey looked at her. Her green eyes flashing it seemed to reflect her mood, worry. Leah shook her head as she stood. Korey looked into her eyes one last time before she turned and headed to the huge pile of wood some yards away from the cabin itself. Korey gave Leah about three logs and continued to load her own arms up with what seemed to be from 75-100 pounds of wood. Leah felt so helpless as she looked at her own small pile but Korey smiled at her and they turned back around to get back to the cabin. It was on the way back that Leah, not accustomed to this sort of weather felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. She doubled over, dropped her wood, and fell to the ground. Korey was at the door already but turned to open the door for Leah when she realized that she had not been behind her. She rushed in the door and placed the wood down before she headed back out to get Leah. Leah could hardly open her eyes when she saw Korey coming. Korey reached down with little effort and pulls Leah to her feet. Half dragging half walking the woman in the door she closed it with her foot and gets to the fire. She lays Leah down, removing her boots, socks, coat and gloves. "Leah... open your eyes. Can you do that for me?." Korey asked as she began to massage Leah's feet. She is worried because Leah is pretty incoherent. For you Leah thought and smiled in spite of herself. Korey saw it and smiled. Leah opened her eyes one time, looked at Korey and closed her eyes. Korey jumped up. She had to keep Leah awake. She shook Leah, "Wake
up... tell me what is your name? That's all I want Leah just let me know that you're fine." Korey begged.
"I'm fine... Korey." Leah forced out. "I'm just... so cold."
"I'll get your quilt. I'll be right back!" Korey rushed over to the bed jerked off the thick quilt and ran back over to Leah. She wanted to reassure her. But she did not know how without sounding like an idiot. She covered Leah up, tucking the quilt around every possible opening, and sat on the floor. The fire crackled inside the silent cabin. Korey sat and watched as Leah tossed and turned muttering unheard words to herself. Finally she fell into a deep restless sleep. Leah twitched. She thought she had heard someone calling her name. But she could not see anything. It was snowing too hard. There it was again. She turned to the voice but could see nothing. She hears the voice all around her. She can't find it. Behind her. She turns and sees a light. She walks toward the light reaching for it but the dream dissolves and she awakens. Korey had been sitting the whole watching this. I want to reach out and touch her. She thought but that would not have been appropriate. She continued to stare almost as though it were through Leah's very soul When Leah awakens fully Korey sighs, reaches up and feels her head. "Good! You don't have a fever. You're gonna be fine." She added. Leah opened her eyes. "Korey?" Leah whispered.
"I'm here Leah." She smiled when Leah turned her head toward her. Leah gave her a weak smile and Korey told her, "You've been sleeping for a good four hours. You missed lunch. But then again," she added with a crackle, "So did I. I'll get our food." She added with a grunt as she stood up taking a lantern with her as she walked to the kitchen.
The snow continued to fall around the cabin as it became colder. Night was fast approaching. But the two would not have noticed it. The cabin was radiating and pulsating nonetheless.
As the sun came up the next morning, Leah and Korey were sitting on the couch sipping cocoa. They were staring into the fire not talking but enjoying each other's company. The weather had indeed worsened during the night and this morning there was no way that either of them could venture outside until it stopped snowing.
"The fire is so mesmerizing isn't it." Korey was the first one to break the silence. Leah looked over at her and nodded her head in agreement adding, "When I was a little girl my dad would take me on this long fishing trip with just he and I. We'd fish all day and cook what we caught over an open
fire... THAT was a one of the best times of my life." Leah said as she took a sip of her drink and stared into the fire again. Korey changed the subject. "Do you have someone special waiting for you at home?"
Leah looked at her and smiled. "No... I'm not married."
"Really... I'm surprised. You're a gorgeous woman."
"Yeah... well... I've been busy with work and stuff... I don't really have time to devote to a relationship. I'd like to but... being a child psychologist affords very little time." Leah looked from her cup to Korey before she smiled. Korey stared, her hair falling over her shoulder as she cocked her head to the side wrinkling her eyebrows. She drops her eyes and looks back toward the fire announcing, "I've got to put more wood on the fire." Leah watches as she gets up. Why do I feel so at peace? She asks herself as Korey throws two more logs onto the fire. "So where do you come from?" Korey asked as she turned from the fire back to the couch.
"I was born here. Not here... here... just in Colorado that's all." Startled by the interruption of her thoughts.
"What made you leave?" You've been gone a long time... your blood is thin. That takes time and you've been away a long time."
"Actually... I left before I was a year old.
"Why?" Korey asked sitting on one leg facing Leah. Leah knew this was coming and before she knew it the words spilled out from her.
"Uhh... my parents were returning from a banquet of some sort. They ran into trouble hit something and wrecked the car. I was five months old at the time." Leah sighed and continued. "It had been a lonely stretch of road and they anticipated no rescue. So they camped out. But not in the car. It was murder to stay there. The gas tank got ruptured and they were afraid that the tank would case and explosion. They only had to walk a few miles but in that sort of weather anyone could get lost without a compass. They did and to keep me alive, mom ate the snow. Over time it cooled her internal organs down and by the time they found us, two days later, she had died during the night. I never knew her. She never knew me. But she loved me... oh god... she loved me." Leah bowed her head and wept. Korey finished the story.
"And because of that... You've never returned... until now." Korey scoots over toward Leah with tears brimming in her eyes. Leah looks up for a brief moment before Korey takes her in her arms and holds her. Leah weeps for her own fear and her anger after so many years of hurt. Korey stoked the back of Leah's head while her silent tears fell. "So much hurt. So much anger... it must have been so heavy to bear alone." Korey whispered as she buried her face inside the silky curtain of Leah's hair.
After what seemed like hours, Leah's breathing slowed and evened out. She had fallen asleep. Korey laid down on the couch and lays Leah between her legs with her head on her chest and she too falls asleep, with the wind howling and the snow blowing around the little cabin.
By nightfall the snow was level with the window. And Leah was getting worried. This was her third day here... second with this Korey character and she was ready to leave. She moved a little before she realized that she was not in bed. She was laying of the couch with Korey. She stopped. And laid that still. It was comforting to listen the her soft breathing as her chest rose and fell with each small breath that she took. She had only assumed that Korey had been sleeping, but she had been up for hours just waiting for Leah to awaken.
"Did you have another dream?" Korey asked
Leah jumped and giggled. "I thought you were asleep. I was trying," and she emphasized the word trying, "not the wake you up. How did you know I had strange dreams? You wouldn't have asked if my dreams were not significant."
"I'm not saying that they were. I saw you the other night. You were having a strange dream. You were mumbling. But last night you didn't. That's why I asked what did you dream about." Korey said as she and Leah sat up.
"It was nice. Let's just say I was searching for something I followed it and found it, but I could not identify it. But I was lost in a snow storm... but was found." Leah concluded as she stood to stretch.
Korey walked over to place more wood on the fire and Leah reached over and grabbed her hand. But Korey was too far away and their hands only briefly and barely touched. Korey pretends not to notice but Leah asks, "Why am I so comfortable around you. It doesn't make sense Korey. Have we met before?" Korey reaches for a log but drops it. Leah rushes to her and Korey looks at her imploring, "Don't!" Leah backs away and sits back on the couch. She watches as Korey turned on the two lanterns that they had found, to prepare dinner. Leah sighs and gets up a few minutes later to help.
"I'm no longer a guest Korey... let me help."
"Alright... grab a can of vegetable soup will you?"
"Sure." Leah reached over Korey who was filling the teakettle with water from a five-gallon jug when Leah reached up and at the same time Korey straightened up. They both looked at each other and ever so briefly they kissed. They looked at each other but said nothing more. Both finish their appropriate tasks in silence. Lost in thought they did not care to share with the other.
"Alright Korey... you know my deepest secret my strongest hurt... I don't know anything about you... what kind of fears do you have?" Leah said as she spit the water from her mouth and returned the toothbrush to the cup over the kitchen sink. Korey walked over. She had been sitting on the bed away from the fire. "My deepest fear... secret?" Korey asked leaning on a supporting beam in the living room.
"Yeah..." Leah said as she walked over to Korey and following her to the couch.
"Well... as a child I almost drowned. So I'm afraid of deep water if that is a dark secret."
Leah laughed then smiled. "Some dark secret. I got one for you. Why did you kiss me last night?"
"I didn't... You kissed me."
"Whatever... but no... why?"