Another two inches of snow had fallen overnight, a frost following close behind. When Lou finally ventured out, the wooden sledge she used to haul firewood skidded waywardly behind her over the hard surface, while she cracked the ice and sank ankle deep, the snow holding her every footfall.
The cold wants me, she thought, her thigh muscles burning, skirts growing heavier, stiffer.
Not for the first time, she was tempted just to stop, let the snow take her. Take the arthritis swelling knuckles, knees and wrists, take the knocking in her left lung, the ulcer on her ankle that wouldn’t heal no matter how many hawthorn poultices she made.
She stopped a moment, breathless from the wind and effort. The crows were arguing in the tree canopy, great black wings flapping like huge sheets of paper. Somewhere in the future, a black bird waited for her.
But not today.
Tugging the sledge, she headed on.