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I carefully walk through the foot deep snow towards the back pasture. My camera is tucked neatly in my pocket, and my mind is full of ideas. I plan to take pictures of the fresh snow in the small grove along the back fence line.
“Mark, where’s your sister?”
My gloved hands grip the cold metal of the gate as I climb over. I glace over at the group of Shetland ponies near the water trough. Their breath sends puffs of grey smoke into the air. One whines and I raise my hand in greeting, but I’m not here to visit. I’m on a mission. I look over the crest of the hill and see the snow covered trees. Picking up my feet again I continue towards my destination.
“I don’t know, Dad. She went outside to take some pictures, or something.”
Finally, I make it to the tiny forest. After unzipping my coat pocket, I remove my point-and-shoot camera. Already set on the “snow” setting, I aim and snap a picture of the trees from a distance.
“When did she go outside? It’s already dark out.”
Getting closer to the group of trees, I take some more pictures. The trees surround a lower spot in the ground where a small creek runs. Grabbing a tree branch for support, I make my way down the little hill.
“I don’t know, a couple of hours ago.”
Suddenly the branch breaks and I tumble the rest of the way down the rise. Coming to a stop at the bottom, I windmill my arms to recover my balance. Smiling at my achievement of not falling, I glance around the shadowed area. I lift my camera to the sky and take a picture of the high tree branches against the grey sky.
“Well, did she say where she was going?”
Looking back down to the ground, I try to locate the creek. But, I can’t see anything under the snow. I take a few steps forward.
“Yeah. She said she was going to…to the pony pasture. Something about taking pictures of trees.”
My foot catches on something beneath the snow and I trip. Falling forward, my hands fly out to protect me. A thought about my camera being in my hand flashes through my mind and I pull that hand back to protect it. My left hand goes into the snow and then I hear a loud crack. All of a sudden my hand is soaking wet and I realize I found the iced over creek.
“I’m going to go look for her.”
Kicking me feet, I try to stand. My camera is still in my hand, and I don’t want it to get wet. My arm still in the water is freezing cold. I bend my arm and push up. My palm leaves the creek bottom and comes out of the water. I manage to grasp the bank of the creek and began to slide my legs forward. But, suddenly my hand slips back into the water and my head falls down. My forehead hits a rock buried in the snow and my vision goes black. My blood stops flowing as it slowly freezes.