Softness of Snow Chapter 6

Softness of Snow Chapter 6

By Christine Swiderski

After one drink and it already being after midnight, Lauren took the dogs out, we all said we would just nap for an hour or so. Mona and I kept the phone with us, There is a fold out sofa in the room with the radio, Lauren and Lori pulled it out while Jessup got them pillows and blankets, Mike and Jessup went to bed, said to promise and wake them if anything more happens.

Mona woke up first exclaiming “Oh My God it’s 9 am!”

I jumped out of bed, coming up behind Mona as she entered the room where Lauren and Lori were still asleep, Mike heard the commotion, Lauren woke with a start, Lori rolled over, stretched when it slowly dawned on her, she asked: “Has something happened?”

No one really knew what to say, it had been nearly 9 hours since we had heard anything at all. Mona grabbed the phone and dialed Sophie groggily answered: “Hello?”

Mona: “Sophie? It’s Mom, where are you how are you?”

Sophie: “Not sure, I have to ask Jeff.”

Hearing Jeff in the background he said: “We are off the expressway on county road 100, since the snow let up seems the County trucks at least made a single pass, no ruts, but it is freezing over, still going about 10 miles an hour, told Wilbur to go home, my buddy and I have this, my buddy is still close behind us Mr. and Mrs. Burton, we should be to your place, but I would like your permission to take her to the clinic have her checked.”

Mona and I looked at each other and I spoke: “If you are on County road 100, where a bouts exactly?”

Sophie handed Jeff the phone he said: “We just passed Center road, I have family in the area if I remember correctly there is a clinic at Center and Creek road.”

Mona said, “Yes that is our clinic see if the nurse practitioner Jessica is working, it will go quicker and she is good at what she does.”

Jeff responded: “Will do, Sophie will call you when we leave the clinic.”

I said: “ I could come get her, so you can leave and see your family.”

Jeff said: “No sir stay put the roads are not up to par yet, and if you promise my buddy and I a home cooked meal, warm place to sleep the night, we will pick up some beer and join you all if you do not mind.”

I said: “You are more than welcome, we have plenty of beer, Jack Daniels, Jim Bean, and a few other delicacies you just bring my girl home safely.”

Jeff: “Will do sir.”

I said: “You can call me Ray, my wife you call Mona, you have now been adopted as family.”

Jeff: “Thank you, Ray, it is an honor to help, goodbye and we will call when we leave.”

Mona said, “Bye Jeff thank you so much hey what is your buddies name?”

Jeff answered “Tom Phillips, Mona.”

Mona said: “Then you inform him he is also adopted and you stay as long as you want.”

Jeff answered: “Will do, we just pulled in the parking lot, there are a lot of cars, this may take a while goodbye.”

At that, he hung up. We busied ourselves, the girls preparing the turkey we saved for new years eve, it was thawed and ready so why not have it early, myself and my boys busied ourselves in our walkout basement, there are two rooms down there, Lauren tended the wood stove in the basement, Mike the one upstairs then he joined me in making beds, clearing away things we threw down there instead of putting it away, general sweeping dusting. When we were done we went upstairs the girls threw together a brunch. I started feeling bad for the pups, they have been ignored since this started, Jessup had taken them out, fed them sat on the floor hugging and playing with them, I made a promise out loud to them that I will not sit and worry till Sophie got here I will take them out and play with them.

After brunch, us guys left the girls with the clean up, we bundled up, and took the dogs out for play, also get the young pups used to being around the tractor, I needed to clear the driveway, with all the snow it took me a good 2 hours to clear it.

I had also forgotten totally about Jason and Mary, they had blended into the woodwork while all this was going on, pitching in when needed, not saying much just letting us all freak out as a family.

When I went back inside, I saw Mary in the kitchen with the girls, I walked up to her put my arms around her and hugged her for a long time and said: “Thank you so very very much.”

With tears in her eyes, she said: “Your so very welcome Ray, I have no family I reminded Sophie of that, she was lucky to have a family.”

Mona, Lori, Jessup came over, joined in the hug and said: “You have a family now.”

While this was going on Lauren and Mike were with Jason letting him know he too was adopted into the Burton family and warned him that one day he may regret it.

Everyone laughed, at this point it had been 3 hours since we had heard from Jeff and Sophie.

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Softness of Snow Chapter 4

Softness of Snow chapter 4

Mona began to cry again, the rest of us sat in stunned silence, Lori was the first to speak: “Lauren do you think you could get on the radio and find a trucker in the approximate vicinity as Sophie?”

That woke Mona out of her slump, give that woman something to do in a time of chaos and she is militant in her attempts, sometimes heroic.

Mona: “We need to know the make and year of her truck, color, it would be nice to know the license number as well.”

Mike: “Mom, in this snow I doubt you would see the license plate it would be plastered solid with snow, the make, year, color.”

We did not notice Jason walk into the room he said: “It is a Black 2014 dual-cab Ford F150, short bed.”

We all cheered, Mona was already doing a call out, thus far she found Truckers North of us, none south as of yet, one particular call out gave us some hope he said he had a friend who was scheduled to do this route he would call him on his cell phone since he does not do the CB radio unless he needs help.

While we waited the only thing I could think of to do is turn on Christmas music and say a silent prayer, we were so involved we forgot about the pups, Jessup was cleaning up after one of them. I felt bad they all looked guilty, so I took them out and played with them till I thought they were tired enough to sleep. I need to turn the floodlights on the barn, it was dark now around 7 pm, when I turned the lights off, Mike was letting the dogs in to give them their dinner, the snow had stopped the clouds cleared, stars were out, they somehow seemed closer, comforting, I stood in silence, one by one everyone except Mona came out stood in silence with me for a few moments.

When we walked back into the house, hung our coats up I heard Mona’s voice she was excited, saying “Ok you think you see her?”

We nearly ran each other over to get to the room hoping to hear something positive only to find out once we got there it was a black Chevy single cab.

The wind let out of all of us audibly with a moan, my throat was closing up again I needed a drink, good old Jack Daniels is the only thing that would do, right about now.

When Mike saw me turn to leave the room he said: “If you are getting Jack, bring me one.” I heard a chorus of “Me too” One “Wish I could.” Lori is a gem.

Lori came into the kitchen to make herself a hot chocolate and help me carry Jack to everyone else.

Once everyone was served I sat down heavily in a chair, said cheers, let that golden liquid slide it’s warmth down my throat to soothe the fear and strengthen my hope. Then I started to talk out loud to no one in particular:

My daughter is on her way home (sigh) not a baby, now a woman, needing love and understanding. Can’t say I can be angry with her, would have hoped she’d have come to us. In all honesty, I might have taken a couple of swings at Will, but in the end, I could not judge him. On account it was not much different than how Mona and I started out, she was just shy of 14 I was just shy of 15, we knew we were doing wrong and dancing with the devil, hormones are like that, but I would not change a thing, Lauren you were the beginning of our marriage, our parents ranted and raved, blamed each other and the other. Once the dust settled we became a united force in making sure this marriage survived our youth. Not everyone is as lucky.”

Mona came over sat on my lap, kissed me and said: “Ray, I still love and lust after you now as I did thirty-five years ago, and I would not change a thing neither.”

The radio crackled Lauren jumped in the seat, Mona just leaned back and we quietly took another sip of Jack. It was a call out from a trucker just North of Wilder road, he saw the truck matching our description, inching along with the rest of them. The trucker apologized for not having his radio on, he was busy on the phone with his kids and wife letting them know he was alright when the call out came. The truckers name was Wilbur, he said he would find a way to signal the truck with the girl in it to see if it is Sophie.

We all sat in silence once again, this time with hopeful anticipation. General murmurs of “wonder what is taking him so long?”

The radio crackled and Wilbur’s voice came back, it’s Sophie her phone battery went dead, she is recharging it, will call as soon as it is 100 % charged so she can talk longer.

Cheers and tears filled the room, calling out thanks, Wilbur, Wilbur laughed and yelled “Hey you all, I will make sure she gets home if I have to push her there! I am going to sign off so I can call the wife back and tell her I am going to be late. I will come back on if I do not see your Sophie on the phone again.”

A half hour later Sophie still had not called, nor did Wilbur get back on the radio, we were beginning to think something went terribly wrong.

Softness of Snow Chapter 3

Fred and snow by pond 2016.jpg

Softness of Snow Chapter 3

The first thing the morning of the 28th Lauren set up Mon’s Ham Radio, Lauren wanting to teach Lori how to use it; hoping to get her hooked. Weather reports were predicting a snow storm with snow thunder. We relish these, they usually are fun and sometimes exhausting, helping the stranded neighbor, whatever is needed. Each of us has a snowmobile I keep in the barn, they are lined up like a used car lot.

Late that afternoon, the snow had measured 2 ft. visibility was nil, people were getting stuck, snow plows could not put a dent in it, they were garaged till the snow let up. Snowmobilers were out in force, shovels, salt, thermos’s filled with hot coffee, some with hot chocolate, anything that could comfort someone stranded.

Charlie 2 miles up the road is a Ham operator, Lauren had already been on the radio with him when Charlie received a call out, there was a couple at the corner of our street stuck, seems they tried to make the turn, slid out of the rut made by others. Lauren handed the radio over to Mona; Mike, Lauren and I climbed aboard the snowmobiles, we were going to bring the couple back here, Charlie said his place was full up. Charlie has a very large tractor which could pull the truck off the road, and onto his property.

When we arrived there was a young couple; Jason and Mary. I grabbed their Luggage, Jason climbed behind Lauren, Mary behind Mike and we brought them to the house. From there we could find out where they were going and could tag team with neighbors to get them to their destination.

Once in the warmth of the house, Jessup asked if they were hungry, both said famished, Jessup set up the table and started heating up leftovers. Lori took their coats, got them comfortable by the fire till their meal was ready. Mona came in after talking with other neighbors, she left the radio on in case there were any other call outs.

Once the meal was eaten we had the conversation that I will never forget:

Mona: “So kids where are you off too?”

They both looked at each other, Mary spoke first: “We came to see you and Mr. Burton.”

Everything stopped, the only sound were the dogs playing, the chaos seemed out of place with the shock we all felt at that very moment.

I asked: “Us? Darling do I know you or your family?”

Jason answered, “No sir, we know Sophie.”

I went directly to Mona who was standing near the table, grabbed her set her into a chair, tears were already welling up in her eyes, Lori and Jessup were already seated, Mike and Lauren came to the table and sat.

Lauren spoke: “Do you know where Sophie is, is she alright?”

Mary: “Yes, Lauren she is fine, she is pregnant, 8 months, same as her sister-in-law Lori.”

No one said a word just stared blankly at the couple, so Mary continued:

I told her she should at least call to let you know she was alright, it’s Christmas I said to her, you should call your parents. She said she figured you would be so angry with her that you would hang up the phone and she could not take the silence after the click of the phone. I told her you would want to know how she was, and that she should call, it is wrong not to call. She said it was wrong that I left not trusting them to do the right thing, but she was afraid you would have Will, her boyfriend put in jail, so she lied about her age and they got Married, Will worked construction in North Carolina with his Uncle Mark. 4 months after they were married Will was on a site building an office complex, he was on the roof when he lost his footing, fell. He did not survive the fall. Will had real good insurance. The insurance paid by the Construction company his Uncle Mark owned. Sophie is not in need of money but I know she could use family, she is really missing you but may be a bit too proud and scared mixed to call.”

Once this all sunk in, Jessup set the couple up in Sophie’s room, Mona handed me the phone, I dialed the number Mary gave me.

Sophie answered “Hello?”

I said with a throat so tight I felt as if I was strangling “Sophie come home.”

I put the phone on speaker

Sophie: “Daddy?”

Everyone in the room called her name, all of us started to blubber for what seemed like an eternity before we could gain control of our emotions, Mona was the first one.

Mona: “Sophie we love you come home, you belong with your family.”

Sophie was still whimpering a bit when she said: “I am so sorry Mama, Daddy, I am so very sorry, I loved Will and miss him terribly.”

Lauren: “Sophie all that does not matter anymore, you come home.”

Sophie: “ I am on my way I have made as far as Frankenmuth Michigan when the roads were closed, I am stuck in traffic jam that keeps moving by inches, but I will get there as soon as I can, So glad I filled up back in Detroit, almost didn’t. Detroit is a scary place these days.”

Just then the phone went dead. We weren’t sure till we all exhausted ourselves calling her name.