The blizzard raged through the night. Snow whipped across the road, and snowdrifts hid where the shoulders ended and the ditches and fields began. Andreas drove cautiously into the heart of it, but his head pounded, and he had no fight left in him.
Maybe he should've stayed and never left the apartment. He could still turn around. If he found a place, he could still return to Margo. He could let her have her say and tell him how lucky he was to have her and how no one else would love him as she did. And then maybe, hopefully, after it was all done, he could sleep.
But no, he was a fool and ran away and headed for the cabin. Hopefully, he'd find his way through it and stay a night or two at the lake until things settled down.
But this storm wasn't helping.
The wind kicked up, and the road disappeared into a wall of snow. Andreas tapped his brakes, hoping he wouldn't hit a patch of ice, but his heart leapt as he caught a snowdrift and the steering wheel yanked in his hand. He fought to gain control.
Something white flew up in front of him and bounced off the windshield. He saw a beak and eyes. He knew it was an owl.
He stopped in the middle of the road and stared in the rearview mirror. He could see nothing except for his orange taillights reflecting the whipping snow. The wind rocked his car.
He should keep going. Whatever condition it was in, he could do nothing for it.
But he couldn't let it suffer.
Andreas left the car running, zipped up his jacket, pulled on his hood, and pushed open the door. Cold wind buffeted him, and whatever warmth he felt was quickly lost. He jammed his hands into his pocket and wandered through the dark to where he thought the creature was.
He could see nothing in the raging storm. He pulled out his phone and shone its flashlight across the road and over the ditch but found no trace of the owl. He wandered further back until he could no longer see the taillights of his car.
Nothing. The owl had vanished.
Maybe it had survived and flown away or was buried beneath a drift. Either way, Andreas wasn't going to find it tonight.
He turned off his phone, slipped it back into his pocket, and stood amidst the storm. Although his jacket was warm, his face and legs were cold. It wouldn't take much for him to freeze out here. If he stumbled into a ditch on the way back to the car, he would quickly get buried. He'd disappear like the owl, and no one would find him until the spring thaw.
Would Margo even miss him?
A blast of wind pushed him forward, and he wandered back towards the car.
In the faint glow of his taillights, he noticed the faint outline of a driveway into the field beside him. Although it was blanketed with snow, it was shallow enough that he could use it to turn around.
He continued to the car and climbed back inside. His legs were numb, and he turned up the heat. But he didn't put the car in gear.
He stared in the rearview mirror and wondered about the owl and the driveway behind him. He was exhausted, and it wasn't just the cold.
But turning back now wouldn't do him any better.
He put the car in drive. He'd go to the cabin and wait out the storm. And when it cleared, it was time he returned to his apartment and started to pack up his stuff.