The new snow crunched under her boots with every step she took. Amy didn’t mind — the sound, barely loud enough to be heard over the blowing wind, helped ground her. As long as she could hear her footsteps, perhaps she could convince herself that she wasn’t lost in this white void.
She chanced a quick look behind her again, even though she’d promised herself she wouldn’t. The wind pushed and swirled the snow, filling in her footsteps almost as soon as she left them. Faint depressions were all that was left, and less than ten feet away, they faded into the white expanse.
It had never been this hard to get back before. Usually, it was nothing more than a matter of turning around and walking the same distance back again. That’s how it worked. Simple.
Not today. She’d walked back and forth over this white earth, and some part of her was almost beginning to believe that there was nothing left — that it was more than just the blowing snow hiding the buildings. Maybe they were gone, and she was aimlessly wandering, searching for something that didn’t exist anymore.
Ahead of her, on the left, a line of pine trees appeared, their branches weighted down by the snow they had collected. They beckoned to her. Come this way, get out of the snow. You’ll like it here.
Amy turned around and began to walk slowly back in the direction that she’d come. There, just past where her footsteps faded away, she thought she saw a figure in the snow — Slender, long brown hair. Amy quickened her pace, her hand outstretched.
Her legs began to burn, fighting against the resistance of the deep snow and the relentless wind, but she could almost make out the face now. Her legs faltered, it wasn’t right. The proportions were just like she remembered — the delicate upturned nose, almond eyes — but it was too old. Years more mature than it should have been.
As her pace slowed, the snow picked up, obscuring the figure even further. It began to fade until she couldn’t see anything more than the faint outline of a silhouette.
She picked up her feet, pushed herself to move. Move dammit.
The silhouette resolved, darkened — and there in front of her was a line of pine trees, branches heavy with snow.