I had told myself that returning to the cabin was a good idea. Solitude, fresh air and no distractions was precisely what the doctor had ordered. It was time for me to heal. I couldn’t carry this burden any longer.
When we first got married, Eve thought it was wonderful to be the wife of a writer. She reveled in it. “Your beautiful mind is what attracted me to you,” she often told me. I wanted to keep pleasing her so I poured my heart and soul into every page that I wrote. The hard work and her belief paid off. It wasn’t easy. My first two books sold a total of 100 copies. I couldn’t get arrested. The third time was the charm. After that, there was no looking back. I started to establish myself. It was a good feeling.
Around this time, Eve found out she was pregnant. We couldn’t have been more ecstatic. Both of us had always wanted a family. It didn’t matter if it was a boy or a girl. On my thirty fifth birthday, Sophie was born. I couldn’t get enough of her. She was a carbon copy of Eve. A little piece of heaven wrapped in a blue blanket. Every time her sparkling green eyes looked at me, I fell in love even harder.
We traveled the world together, all three of us. Sophie had seen more countries before the age of ten then most adults do in their lifetime. Before too long, Sophie had a little sister named Abigail. Abby was a fearless child. She was more like me. Where Sophie was easy, Abby was challenging. She was always full of questions and I was all too willing to answer them.
As the years passed, my adoring girls started growing up and I will admit I left most of the child rearing to Eve. Since they were in school, the opportunities to go on the road with me were limited to just summer. It seemed as if we were never in the same place at the same time.
In 2008, I decided to take an extended winter break. The kids were out of school until January. We all decided that spending the holidays at the cabin would be a great idea. This was our special retreat. Every outing was an adventure. So many memories were tied up in that house.
Abby and I would go hiking in the woods while Eve and Sophie preferred to stay behind where it was warm and play board games. It was perfect. Everything was the way it used to be with all of us a tight knit clan again. It started snowing on Christmas Eve. Abby was beyond ecstatic because she wanted to try out the cross-country skis that we had been saving for when she got older.
Before the weather got too bad, I had to make a run into town for Eve so that she could make the girls their favorite Christmas cookies. Ever the faithful navigator, Abby jumped at the chance to go with me.
“Don’t stay out too late you guys! I want to make these cookies before dinner.” Throwing my arms around Eve’s waist, I drew her close and planted a huge kiss on her lips. Sophie rolled her eyes. “Can you guys not do that when I’m around?”
“Someday you are going to meet a guy…” “Ugh, I know. Don’t you have to go to the store?” Laughing, I threw my arm around my eldest daughter’s shoulder. “So cynical at such a tender age.” Without missing a beat, Sophie replied, “I learned from the best, Dad.”
“Okay co-pilot Abigail. Ready for an adventure?” “Yes!” In my best Shakespearean accent, I intoned, “We shall return with my Lady’s royal cookie ingredients forthwith!”
The snow was steadily falling. Abby immediately laid down on the ground and started flailing her arms up and down to make an angel. Giggling, she jumped up and headed for the car. We piled into the SUV and took off. I turned on the radio just in time to hear Bing Crosby crooning, “White Christmas.” Glancing at Abby, I smiled as I watched her take in every part of this marshmallow world.
“It’s so beautiful, Daddy!” Even though I agreed with her, the roads were concerning me. I could feel the tires slipping a bit so I threw the car into another gear. We passed by the Wilkinson farm with all the horses that were an endless source of fascination for Abby.
As we turned the corner, out of nowhere, a deer shot in front of us. I swerved and tried to maneuver the car back on track but we hit an icy patch. The car kept skidding, Abby started screaming. I wrestled with the steering wheel as best I could but it was useless. We were heading toward the ravine and the next sound I heard was the roof of our car hitting the frozen ground.
My head bounced hard against the windshield. The force of the impact threatening to throw me out of my seatbelt. Then as quickly as our descent began, it ended. The world went black.
I heard muffled sounds. What was happening? Abby? I couldn’t see her. It felt like a hot white light was shining on my face. Through a red haze, I saw someone smash the side window in with what looked like a crowbar. I tried to move. “Don’t move, Sam.” I nodded. “Please try and find Abby.”
After that, everything was a blur. I was in and out of consciousness. Even in the darkness I could still hear Abby screaming.
A week later, I watched as they lowered the coffin into the ground. Eve was sobbing next to me. Sophie was doing her best to comfort her. I wanted to reach out but I didn’t have the strength. All I could think was my little girl is gone and there is nothing I can do about it.
The months went by and little by little my memory of that horrible day started returning. I began sleeping in my writer’s cottage because I would wake up screaming in the middle of the night. My dreams were filled with blood on virgin white snow.
I continued going through the motions of writing every day. My deadline looming in front of me like a beacon. My routine kept me going, kept the demons at bay. Eve attempted to talk with me. She made overtures but all I wanted was to be left alone. Sophie no longer acknowledged my presence. I was like a phantom, a shadow figure to her.
Finally, my book was finished. After a particularly long tour, I came home to find an empty house and a note. Eve had found a new love and she had no interest in continuing the “sham” as she called it. There were many nights when full of Jameson courage, I pleaded with her to take me back. The fights became so intense that she ended up getting a restraining order. Suddenly, I had turned into one of those horrible men that you find in a Lifetime Channel movie. So, on a bleak day in December Eve and I left the courthouse. All I had were memories and photographs. Twenty-five years, gone, dissolved by a few lawyers in suits.
My agent always concerned for my welfare, suggested I get counseling. It was agreed that I would go into therapy. The book was doing well and I could afford to take some time to get better. The only way I could do that was to return to the cabin.
Don Davis a family friend bought “supplies” from the local store in town and delivered them prior to my arrival. It was good to have people watching out for me. Lord knows I couldn’t do it myself. I stood looking out the window. I didn’t know what I was expecting to see. I stared down at the forgotten cup of coffee now cold in my hands.
Turning around, I noticed the clock on the wall. Seven o’clock in the evening. I could already feel the chill in the air. According to the Weather Channel a nor’easter was on its way and by daybreak there would be more than a foot or two of snow on the ground.
The wind started to howl and kick up a fuss. It was soothing in an odd sort of way. I grabbed a book from the coffee table and settled down on the couch to read. After a while, I found my head bobbing and my eyes growing heavy. A nap could be precisely what I needed. After all it was a five-hour trip. Grabbing the bulky afghan from the back of the couch, I closed my eyes and stretched out.
I awoke the next morning to pale, wispy fingers of sunlight caressing my face. Blinking, I sat up and rubbed my eyes. The clock on the wall told me it was six a.m. I had slept for almost twelve hours. I could see snow falling. Stretching I stood up and went to the window.
When I looked down, something captured my attention. In the middle of the yard, was a perfect shape of a snow angel. I closed my eyes and shook my head. I knew when I opened them, it would be gone. It wasn’t. At that moment, I saw my little girl, giggling and smiling, flailing her arms about on the ground. “I love you, Daddy.” “I love you too, Abby.”