The air was bitter cold, it had the taste of ice in it. She took quick, panting breaths on her way up the slope. Snow surrounded her, colourless, cold; stark sunlight reflected off of it, blinding her. Her vision was pink around the edges. She chided herself for not wearing the sunglasses–they had been on the bench before she left the house. Oh well.
Too late now.
When she crested the slope she stopped. She felt a terrible thirst in her body, so she took a drink. The light was overwhelming her. With her hand she shielded her gaze. Before her the lake spread itself out. For miles it was just water as far as her eyes could see. Closer to the shore there were dead trees sticking out of the water, covered from top to bottom in gnarled icicles.
A thick fog rose up from the water, diffusing the sunlight, obscuring everything beyond the lake. She gasped as the vapours rolled towards her, engulfing her. It was a shift in the wind perhaps? A very light wind, she thought to herself. Everything went silent. No rustling in the tree branches, no birds or other wildlife–she was alone in this desolate scene.
She was a photographer. All she had wanted was to capture a muse, so to speak.
And here it was. Her fingers quickly became numb from the cold, but she continued to click away with her camera, capturing image after image after image.
By the time the fog rolled away the sun was beginning to sink below the horizon. How long had it been? She had only been there for twenty minutes. Not even that. Or at least that’s how it had seemed to her at the time. It was only natural to get carried away, she supposed. But this was ridiculous, unbelievable. She knew herself: she was not one to lose track of things. Her life consisted of deadlines. Time was precious, pre-measured, quantified.
A frown crinkled her brow, and that same thirst had returned. Now that the fog was gone she could see the entire lake. It was beautiful, vast, mysterious. The shoreline on the other side was faint, but it was there. Her numb hands raised the camera out of instinct.
She stopped herself. Something brought her attention back to the shoreline. A large, bird-like creature was resting on one of the dead trees.
It must have landed while the fog was rolling out. It seemed to be sleeping, its head was tucked under a wing. The only thing she could think was how big the creature was.
And she was ten feet away from the creature, her curiosity finally in check.
It wasn’t a bird.
That fact was so obvious she wanted to hit herself.
It wasn’t asleep either, A small voice within her called it for what it was. Before her was the definition of awful beauty. It was a seraph. A messenger of god.
The sun sank below the tree line.