The Winter Butterfly


The traditional log cabin was in total darkness as Rachel parked in front of it. Trying to look through the thickly falling snow at the front door, she made out the numbers twenty-two and decided it was the correct one. The car headlights beamed through the dancing snowflakes and showed Rachel that the snow was fast crawling up the cabin.

With a deep sigh and flick of her mane of chestnut hair, she turned the engine off and the night gladly crept back in. Rachel reached upwards and clicked on the inside light. Outside she could hear the wind howling and whistling. The small car rocked gently. A shiver shot through her and she slipped gloved hands from the warm steering wheel.

Twisting slightly, she pulled her large blue handbag over from the passenger seat and tossed the useless map of the holiday cabins aside. She dug out her phone, woke the screen up and saw it was almost ten PM. Rachel went to her last two sets of text messages. Her reply back to Adrian glowed before her; see you then x. She scrolled up and glanced through their conventions dated today and yesterday. Most of the words had become imprinted in her mind she’d read it that many times now.

She tapped the screen, but it didn’t respond with her gloves on and she had to take the right one off with her teeth. Tapping again, she wrote; I’m here, where are you? then pressed send. The mobile beeped and your messaged can’t be sent, flashed up.  

‘Oh, what now?’ she muttered and peered closer at the screen. ‘No signal. Well that’s just great!’

Rachel shoved her phone back in her bag and whacked the steering wheel. Tingles of pain ran through both her palms. She curled her fingers around the cold plastic and threw her head back. She would’ve pressed her forehead to the wheel but her large boobs were in the way. Dragging in deep breaths of fast cooling air, she shut her eyes and took a minute.

Opening her eyes again, she gathered her handbag and the overnight bag she had stuffed in the passenger footwell. She grabbed the cabin’s key and her own keys in the other hand then went to open the door.

I could just leave, she thought, he’s clearly not here. But it’s probably too dangerous on the roads now….and a waste of money.

Rachel watched the snow falling and realised her front window was quickly being covered up. Realising, she had no choice, she got out of the car and hurried up the slippery steps to the cabin door. Juggling the keys, she fitted the right one in the door and pushed it open. The wind decided to help and the door banged loudly against the wall. Rachel walked in, snow rushing to join her.

Dumping her bags to one side, she called out, ‘hello?’

There was only the reply of the wind.

Rachel walked out again, turned the light out in her car and locked it. She went back inside the cabin, turned on the lights and looked around. A cosy open plan living room, dining space and kitchen came to life around before her. She took off her long coat, revealing a short black dress and coal tights. Also, taking off her shoes, she went towards the open fire place. Looking inside, she saw that someone had prepared the logs, kindling and newspaper balls.

She lit the fire, feeling like she deserved it. Once the flames had gotten going and a thin wave of heat had wrapped around her, Rachel settled into the deep set sofa and hugged one of the velvet cushions. She took a deep breath of burning wood, smoke and pine, whilst her thoughts turned to Adrian. She wondered about checking her phone then seeing if he was upstairs.

I’m alone and there’s no point, she thought, typical of him not to show. I’m such a fool.

Rachel pressed the side of the head into the top of the cushion and listened to the wind howling outside and the fire crackling away. She shut her eyes, feeling tried from the difficult drive and still cold.

‘Perhaps he all ready came and left?’ she spoke allowed, ‘I’m three hours late.’

She looked around hopeful to see some sign of him, but the place was as a clean as the cleaner had left it.

‘Surely the snow storm would’ve trapped him here too,’ she concluded and settled back down.

Rachel felt the last of her excitement fade away and bitter hollowness take over. Tears welled in her eyes and she felt a burning in her throat. She fought the tears back, knowing it was useless to keep crying over him. Wiping her eyes, she got up and feed some more logs into the fire. Gratefully the flames latched on to the new wood and burned brighter.

She went into the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea. Heading back to the sofa with her hands wrapped around the mug, she tried to convince herself to stop thinking and just enjoy it. Placing the mug on the coffee table, she went to her bags and dug out a scruffy paperback of Wuthering Heights. She found a fluffy blanket on the back of the matching arm chair and took that back to the sofa with her. Settling again, she tried to read, but her thoughts came darting back to Adrian.

Her mind played the daydream she often allowed it to and she fell into that for a few minutes. She pictured him walking through the door, not the mid-thirties man he now was, but the just turned nineteen boy he had been when they had meet at university. His hair was light brown, long and unkempt around his soft thin face. Dark brown, haunted eyes that had lit up when they had spotted her. His normal clothes of too tight black jeans, an old band t-shirt and lumber jack style jacket.

Rachel let her mind play on and imaged Adrian kissing her lightly on the lips. She begged for more gently then pushed harder when he refused.

‘We shouldn’t,’ daydream Adrian said.

‘Why not? One more isn’t going to hurt,’ Rachel replied in her head.

‘It might do and I don’t want that. Let’s just talk about uni instead. Who are you still in contact with?’

‘I thought we came here to…you know and now you just want to talk?’

Daydream Adrian nodded, ‘like old times.’

Rachel heard herself sigh and stopped thinking about it. She got up and went to the window, but looking out she couldn’t see anything. She went to the door, turned the handle and found it wouldn’t open. Shoving against it did nothing. Trying again, she wondered if the snow had piled up behind it or if it was just stuck.

Glancing around, she spotted a phone next to the TV and went to dial reception. A dull dial tone echoed in her ear followed by a buzzing as she was cut off. Trying again, she realised the snow storm must have knocked out the phone lines. She checked her mobile and saw there was still no signal.

‘I’m stuck here!’ she cried, ‘this is all your fault Adrian!’

Rachel flung herself back on the sofa, tears pricking her eyes again.

‘No,’ she mumbled, ‘it’s all my fault. Why did I think I could trust him again after everything? His stood me up and cancelled so many times, why did I think this would be different?’

She rubbed her head, feeling a headache coming on. Rachel picked up her mug of tea and took a few sips then a longer drink. Cradling the cup, she let herself get everything out. She ran through all the good and bad memories, not stopping to dwell on them.

Afterwards, Rachel abandoned the rest of her cold tea and checked the time. Seeing it was a few minutes to midnight, she got up and dug a small bottle of champagne from her overnight bag. She got a glass from the kitchen and placed both on the coffee table. She put some more logs on the fire before curling back on the sofa.

The numbers flash double zeros and Rachel popped open the champagne and poured a glass. Toasting she whispered, ‘happy new year,’ and drank the whole lot in one go.

She poured another and drank that one too. Then abandoning the glass, she grabbed the bottle and hugged it in between her boobs. The fire crackled merrily to itself, casting off a cheerful glow as Rachel finally give into her tears.

 

The loud continuous knocking just about woke Rachel from a drunken sleep. She rubbed her eyes and face whilst one part of her urged her back to sleep and the other pulled her awake to figure out the source of the noise. She swung her legs off the sofa and her feet hit the empty champagne bottle. Kicking it away, she got up, pulled her dress down and went to the door.

With a sharp pull, she opened the stuck door and looked blurrily out.

‘Rachel! Are you okay?’

‘Adrian?’

‘I can’t believe you risked it, you crazy thing. Sorry, but my car was too snowed in.’

Rachel yawed and peered out at him. He was still a head shorter than her and dressed in a woollen coat, hat and gloves. His famous boyish smile lit up his face and she almost melted into his arms.

‘Can I come in?’ he asked with a slight bounce.

She nodded and held the door for him.

‘I was worried about you. I really didn’t think you were going to come.’

‘Are you grateful that I did?’ she asked, closing the door.

Adrian turned at the tone of her voice, hat and gloves in his hands, ‘of course.’

‘I’m surprised you came.’

‘Why?’ he asked, putting down his things.

‘Because of all the other times you’ve not bothered,’ Rachel snapped back.

‘Aww, come on, Rach don’t be like that…’

She shook her head and stormed passed him to the sofa. She began gathering her things and tidying up.

‘What are doing? We’ve still got time,’ Adrian pointed out.

‘I don’t care,’ she called over her shoulder, ‘I’m sick and tired of this.’

‘Well, you’re the one who keeps pretending we’re together.’

She spun at his raised voice, clutching her mobile phone and book, ‘only because you make me believe it!’

‘That’s so not true!’ Adrian half shouted, ‘you’ve kept this up since uni and I’m sorry about what happened. It was my fault and I took the blame for that. I shouldn’t have let you believe I loved you. And I’ve tried, Rach, I really have, but you won’t let it drop.’

‘I’ve tried too!’ she yelled, ‘but you keep dragging me back! Well guess what? This time I’m officially over it. Goodbye, Adrian.’

Rachel shoved her things in her handbag and put on her shoes. She grabbed her coat, keeping her back to him and put it on.

‘Wait,’ Adrian spoke.

She paused. No! Don’t do it, don’t turn around and look into his sad eyes, she told herself, you’ve lived long enough chasing his shadow.

‘I’m sorry. Rachel. Please, let’s talking about this…I still want to be your friend.’

She dropped her head, bit her lip then picked up her bags.

‘I mean it this time,’ Adrian concluded.

Rachel shook her head a little and went to the door, ‘no more excuses,’ she muttered then called over her shoulder, ‘I mean it this time too.’

She opened the cabin door and stepped out. The sun was shining brightly off the iced over snow, casting the first day of the new year in a golden glow.

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