• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 06

The last birthday present

It was the last birthday present she gave me before she...before I lost her. A new pair of snow boots. My old ones were falling apart. I had dropped a few hints. Snowboarding on sunny slopes in Switzerland was a joy we shared for years before she fell ill. For a while, I never wanted to see another snowy slope, but one bright morning I changed my mind. I knew she would urge me to. I knew she’d want me to try out my smart new snow boots.

So I set off on one of our familiar trails. It was strange. I felt her presence next to me, plodding along, crushing the blinding white snow, sullying the pure even surface with the imposition of my new boots. It was so quiet. We always talked as we walked. It was mesmerising. The strong sun beating down on this white eternity. I saw tiny crystals. I imagined each descending snowflake silently huddling next to the others. Endless fields of white. As I trudged on, I thought of her. It was as if she was beside me. Her smile. Her bobbly hat. Escaping strands of hair, the colour of a beach. I saw the blush of her soft skin, the sparrow-brown of eyelashes. My head swam. Was I hallucinating? I trod on, her red anorak, her green backpack, imprinting the stained snow, one flat boot print after another. My head swirled. I lost balance and fell.