It was a beautiful day, the white of the snow brilliant against the cloudless sky. The sun was warm on her face and the air icy in her nose and throat. Marianne removed her sunglasses and, squinting against the glare, felt in her bag for the binoculars. Holding them to her eyes she could see it was Steve.
Marianne watched as he moved effortlessly down the mountainside, turning first this way, then that, carving sweeping curves in the pristine snow. It made her think of a swallow dipping and swooping in a summer evening sky. She smiled to herself.
A deep crack rent the air. Then another. The sound echoed around the valley. She felt rather than heard a deep rumbling. With the binoculars still held to her eyes, she looked from side to side. A blur of snow, trees and sky swerved back and forth.
Her heart pounding, she dropped the binoculars, and her eyes, watering now in the cold bright light, were drawn to movement at the top of the pass. She could see the mass of snow, it's outer edges, darker with tumbling debris, spreading downwards and outwards. Frantically she sought out Steve. She saw him, now no more than a small orange peck just reaching the treeline. The avalanche was gathering pace, the outskirts billowing like sheets in the wind. She tried to cry out but there was no air in her lungs. He disappeared. Marianne watched as, moments later, the whiteness swallowed the trees.

Lisa Holyhead

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