SUMMARY: Under layers and layers of covers, she curled into Bill's broad chest, letting the heat of his body seep into hers. Go to sleep, she told herself. Go to sleep.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended on my part.
WORD COUNT: 1,442
NOTE: This is for everyone at rememberlaura. Thank you so much to my PLP, icedteainthebag, for marvelous beta and even better friendship.
Yesterday, it had felt like spring was coming. The ice began dripping from the eaves and there was a fresh, clean smell to the air. She'd gone for a walk in the woods in the afternoon, boots protecting her feet from the puddles between the trees. Later, she flung the windows wide open, allowing the mild breeze to air the cabin out.
Some time in the night, she woke and looked out the window. It was snowing again. She should have felt dismay, but it was strangely beautiful, the fat flakes dancing their way to the ground.
The air had grown colder in the cabin, so she climbed out of bed and pulled on her heavy robe. Bill mumbled something in his sleep and rolled under the quilts. She walked to the hearth and threw another log on the fire, warming her hands over the flames.
Golden brown gazelles through a pair of binoculars. Oh, nature. Wind in her face, sunlight warming her cheeks. Her breath catches in her throat. Inhale, but no exhale. Her hands start shaking; she nearly drops the binoculars.
She sat down in the rocking chair Bill had made, the wood creaking with her weight. Deep breaths in and out. She felt a cold sweat break out on her skin. For a moment, she felt afraid, terribly afraid, although she had no idea why. A waking dream, she told herself, fanciful thoughts in the middle of the night. She shivered.
Back in bed, under layers and layers of covers, she curled into Bill's broad chest, letting the heat of his body seep into hers. Go to sleep, she told herself. Go to sleep.
Without the sunlight to alert her, she woke later than usual. There was nothing to see outside the window but a sheet of pure white. She flopped back to the pillow with a groan.
"What's wrong?" Bill asked, his voice muffled from under the blankets.
"Snow," she said.
"Big deal. We've had four months of this."
"Exactly," she said. "And Kara and Sam were planning to come for dinner tonight. I was really looking forward to seeing them." Their own cabin was about four miles away to the north.
He rolled over and nipped at her neck. "Tired of my company already?" he chortles.
"Wouldn't you be?" She ruffled his coarse hair.
He poked her in the side and she yelped.
She loved this cabin, built with their own hands, with help from Kara and Sam's youthful energy and strength. It was merely one snug room made of thick logs, but it rarely felt too crowded. They didn't have much, anyhow, besides some books they'd brought down from Galactica and a few pieces of handmade furniture.
But in the spring and summer the windows overlooked the rushing waters of a creek and the deep green of the forest. She'd planted a vegetable garden with the aid of dim memories of her mother's garden, rows of tomatoes and beans, peppers and kale.
It was rare that she longed for her old house in Caprica City and rarer still that she missed Galactica and Colonial One. There were people she missed, both the living and the dead. Billy, Lee, Cottle, Dee, Tigh, sometimes even Tory. There was usually too much to see and to do here to yearn for her old life. Flowers to pick, goats to feed and milk, tomatoes to dry in the sun. Even in the isolation of winter she was busy. She was teaching herself to knit and sew, something she had little patience for. Bill read detective novels to her as she dropped stitches and swore under her breath.
She didn't miss being sick. She definitely did not miss lying for hours in sickbay while doloxan slowly dripped into her vein. In their cabin hidden in the woods, she blossomed again. Her cheeks were pink, her eyes clear. Her hair grew back, darker and curlier than before, a little wild. She liked it that way.
Later in the morning, she made the bed, hospital corners and all. She was just straightening the quilt when her eye focused in on one of the squares, a pale pink made from one of her blouses. Pink.
A field of pink everywhere, a flock of flamingos, almost blinding in the sunlight. She struggles for breath as she stares out the window of the Raptor. It's the most beautiful thing she's ever seen.
She has so much she wants to tell Bill, so many things still left unsaid. But she can't seem to find the words, find the air. "So…much…life…" she manages to gasp.
And then the pink turns to white, a stunning white light that seems to fill her and carry her away.
Her heart beat wildly in her chest, painful irregular thumps. She sat on the bed, tears streaming down her face. "Oh," she managed to say.
The cabin door opened and Bill walked in, shaking snow off his boots. He spotted her and strode across the room, tracking snow everywhere on the wood floor, his glasses fogged. "Are you all right?" he asked.
She barely heard him.
"Laura?" He sat down next to her. She could feel the cold air coming from his coat. He handed her a handkerchief to wipe away her tears.
She looked at him, his face finally coming into focus. She was afraid to ask the question. "The Raptor, the flamingos…" she said, twisting the gold ring on her finger, around and around.
"Oh, Laura," Bill sighed. "We've had this conversation dozens of times before."
She wrinkled her forehead. "What conversation?"
He took her hand and squeezed it with his chilly fingers. "Laura, you have to accept it. Finally accept it."
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Bill." She was getting annoyed now.
"It's so strange," he said, shaking his head. "Here you had years to deal with what was coming, yet you can't seem to now that it's happened. I don't get it."
She flopped back on the bed and shut her eyes. She saw the flock of flamingos again, dancing across the terrain. And she heard Bill cry out, heard the anguish in his voice. Something slid down her finger. Bill's wedding ring.
Her eyes opened. "I'm dead," she said. A shiver ran down her spine.
His finger traced her cheek. He didn't say anything.
"Are you real?" she whispered.
His lips were warm against her forehead. "I'm as real as you are."
"Oh." Her head was spinning. Dead. She couldn't be dead. This was so real—the cabin, the woods, the snow falling outside the window. "Then you must be dead, too."
She heard his hoarse laugh. "Of course I am."
"This is the afterlife, then?"
"Nobody was as surprised as I was," he said. "I thought there would be nothing after I stepped off the cliff, but there you were, standing in the sunshine in your red dress, smiling at me."
"I remember," she said. And she did, she remembered folding him into her arms and kissing his hair, his forehead, his cheeks, every part of him she could possibly find.
"Laura," he said, his voice low and serious. "You have to accept it this time. You have to let your old life go and let them all in."
She sat up, pushing stray hair out of her face. "Let who in?"
Just then, there was a knock at the door. "Who could be here in such awful weather?" she asked. She rose to answer the door and as she passed the window she saw it was no longer snowing outside. It was a sparkling summer morning, the woods lush and green. She heard birds singing.
She opened the door. Kara and Sam were there, Kara holding a bouquet of lilacs. Behind them were her parents, looking impossibly young, and her sisters, both wearing bright summer dresses. She stood in the doorway, stunned into speechlessness.
Kara grinned. "Are you going to let us in or what?" she said.
Her mother pushed her way through and wrapped her arms around Laura. She could smell her mother's perfume, roses and lilies. "Oh, Laura," her mother said. "It's about time."
Tears ran down her face as she hugged her mother. "Yes," she said. "Yes, it is about time."