The silent darkness is a constant reminder that I am still very much alone. Three nights have passed and no sign of rescue. No sound of helicopters and no sight of rescuers. I am alone without hope and convinced that my time to die has arrived.
My ice prison brightens and I guess it must be day time. During the night a violent wind added layers to my frozen prison whipping up snow that landed on my barricaded entrance sealing it even tighter.
It is surprisingly warm inside the cave and I think about how lucky I was to have fallen and rolled. Was I lucky? Matt had fallen too and with him tons of snow and ice ensuring his worries about escaping were over in an instant. Death became his sweet release. My hope of rescue was fading. I knew if I wasn’t found soon I would die of thirst, which seems quite absurd because I am surrounded by ice. If dehydration doesn’t get me then starvation probably will or maybe hyperthermia.
It has been more than 48 hours and I am still here but barely. Last night I remembered there was food in my backpack but that finished a few hours ago. I have managed to suck at ice for water but it is so cold and it is painful to move so I am not taking in as much as I should be to stay alive. Still no sign of rescue. I thought about venturing deeper within the cave but I am too afraid. More afraid of facing the dark abysses that beckons me forward than staying right here and dying.
It is funny what one remembers in the final hours of ones life. The people I love and have loved, the memories I have made over the last 48 years of my life. The wonderful climbing adventures I have enjoyed.
It isn’t all positive though. The negative far outweighs the positive as I go over and over the things I regret and the things I wish I had said and done as well as the people I had taken for granted, the countries I wanted to visit and the many things I still wanted to do with my life. I think of Matt buried beneath the snow and my heart aches. Why didn’t we get married? I can hardly remember the excuses we both made. A few weeks ago I became so angry when the dry cleaners told me they had ruined my silk blouse – it seems so insignificant now and quite ridiculous that I would cause misery to others because of a piece of material.
I am not sure how long I have been here, three days, maybe four. My body is so cold and the shivering just won’t stop. My thermals kept out the water but it has now begun to seep through and I can feel the cold wetness against my skin. My fingers are numb and I have lost feeling in my left foot. My body hurts when I move and I drift in and out of consciousness. When I sleep I dream of the sun, the beach, and the family parties. I hear my mother laugh and my baby niece scream in delightful terror as my brother pushes her on the garden swing. The adults sit under the shade of the parasol enjoying a glass of red wine. I get to talk to everyone and I tell them how much I love them. I say my goodbyes.
‘I am so sorry mum,’ I say out loud as the tears stream down my face, ‘I know you didn’t want me to make this trip. I wish I had listened to you now.’
There is no reply. Only the silence.
This flash fiction story has been written by me, Diane Corriette, and can only be republished with permission.