I love rain. Love it! It’s from all those years living on the North Slope of Alaska. I like being locked inside my house all snug and cozy while the weather outside is frightful. It’s when I’m the most creative. In the Arctic when the weather is nice, you MUST go outside. The chances of it being clear and pretty again soon are slim to none. Even after living in the Ozarks for three years, I still feel the pull to be outside when the weather is nice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cursed the sun since moving here.
Even though I’ve had words with Mother Nature, I’m really thankful the weather here in the boonies is as nice as it is. Getting inside the house in the Arctic can be hazardous to your health. Check out this scene from my current work in progress, Ex-Ray.
Anne Sutton is returning home–during a blizzard–from a shift as a 9-1-1- emergency dispatcher. The officer who dropped her off is sitting in the truck waiting for her to get inside safely.
The flakes were sleet-like and razor sharp. It felt like walking through a spider web made of barbed wire. The steps to my apartment were completely buried–a six-foot wall of snow stood between me and the door. I’d only taken four steps from the truck, but when I turned around to ask for assistance, I couldn’t see the vehicle.
The security of knowing Huffman was still there even if I couldn’t see him, gave me the courage to go forward. Besides, I really needed to pee.
I turned around and faced the building. I could make out its form and the outside light strained to shine through the blanket of white. My face hurt from the slashing flakes and I pulled down my parka hood limiting my visibility even more.
There’s no way I can get into the apartment.
I turned toward the truck again and could see nothing.
Go toward the apartment. It’s easier to find than the truck. If nothing else, you can get under the building.
Facing directly into the wind took my breath away, but I trudged forward. Fortunately, it was cold enough that the pile of snow blocking the door was frozen near the bottom. One step and I sunk to my knees. At least it wasn’t the whole way. The thought of being buried alive in a snow embankment sent a chill much colder than the minus-sixty-degree arctic blast through my heart. Another step. I sunk to my waist.
I struggled to get out. Pushed my hands on the top of the berm, but it wasn’t sturdy enough to hold me. I wiggled more and my foot hit something solid. Knowing that a large surface area on the snow would work better than trying to prop myself up with my hands, I pushed off and flung myself backward. My torso and waist were out of the hole. I lay on my back as the flakes pelted down on my face. It looked like a scene from Star Trek—the spaceship flying through the stars at warp speed.
Quit admiring the stars and get inside, you idiot. Do you want to die?
I shimmied around so that my head was facing the door, I hoped, instead of the street and slid across the top of the snow bank. When my head hit something solid, I maneuvered myself onto my knees and dug out my keys.
By then, I was crying. Scared out of mind. Tears stung my face as they froze to my cheeks. I found the door handle and put the key in, but it didn’t turn.
Oh shit. Am I at the wrong building?
By then, my hands were getting numb and my thumbs were burning.
Gotta get inside.
I tried the key again. It went all the way in the lock, but it wouldn’t turn.
I kicked and banged on the door, but I doubted anyone would hear me over the wind that rocked the building.
My tears turned to sobs. I stuffed my gloved hands into my parka and kicked the door some more, cursing and screaming.
Calm down. Maybe the lock is just frozen.
I put the key in my mouth and it instantly stuck to my tongue. I held it there for thirty seconds, then slipped it into the lock. It fit and the lock turned.
Thank you, Jesus.
The door opened at the same time I was pushing it. I saw bright white lights and felt warmth wash over me as I fell, weeping, to the floor.
“Anne, are you okay?” A masculine voice asked me.
Maybe I’m in heaven.
“Anne.” I felt hands on my shoulders as someone tried to roll me over. “Shit, Anne. Are you okay?”
I was on my back and someone was cradling me in his arms. I stopped crying and opened my eyes. Joe held me. A concerned look flashed across his ebony eyes.
Yep. I’m in heaven.
My sobs turned into laughter. To some it might have appeared maniacal, but I was happy to be alive so to me it seemed normal.
“Can you stand?”
Sure, I can, but I like it here.
I stayed for a few seconds longer than was appropriate and stood. “Yeah, I’m fine.” I smiled at him. “I’m glad you heard me knocking.”
“It was only because I was down here doing a load of laundry.” He took my arm and helped me up the stairs.
“How’d you get in? It looked like the door was frozen or something.”
“I sucked key,” I explained.
“What?” He stopped midway up the stairs and looked at me.
“The lock was frozen. Sometimes if you can warm up the key in your mouth it’s enough to get to lock to move. If it’s really frozen, you have to resort to a propane torch.”
“One never jokes about sucking key.”