72973

She lay on her side up against the cold stone wall of the bothy; the wind howling just above her head through the glassless window. It swirled around the room and found gaps in the blankets. She adjusted them, but it made no difference as the cold weaved through the fabric.

It started raining hard and not even the gale could block out the sound of the rain as it pelted against the stone. The rain was pouring through the window, but she thought that the blankets would buy her time – all she needed was time.

Reaching into her pocket she found the crumpled photo and brought it up to her face, her fingers now unprotected from the cold she stared at it – it was too cold for tears.

She gazed at their smiles wide, their hair wild, seagulls flying behind them. She could smell the sea salt and could almost taste it on her tongue. ‘Daddy throw me in’ the little girl pleaded. Her husband, Tom, laughing as he hoisted her onto his shoulders, waded into the sea and catapulted her into the air giggling as she went.

She held the photo up to her nose and imagined the smell of sun cream on their skin. The rain had stopped, and a calmness entered the bothy. The blankets were saturated, as snow began drifting in through the window above her. She began to shiver violently, and dropped the photo as her hands began to lose feeling.

‘Darling, will you pass me the blanket, I’m cold’ with a smile and a twinkle in her eye. He handed it to her and kissed her tenderly. Their daughter now lay between them, the stars were out, and she was fast asleep. In the wind of the bothy she heard them whisper her name, the photo kept her sane as the world froze around her.

A pressure began to build on her skull and a blinding light flooded her eyes. They slowly adjusted and a guard was standing over her, a headset in his hands.

A man in white stepped forward, ‘Prisoner 72973, do you know where you are?’ he asked, flashing the light in her eyes. Her legs and arms convulsed, the muscle stimulus bands preventing entropy as she lay still.

‘Broadgate’ she whispered, barely audible amongst the drone and whirring of machines. The doctor nodded at the guard as he tightened the straps, the world darkened and grew cold as snow settled around her.

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