Willow Hill twinkles teasingly at me. With a snow cloak bejewelled by the sunlight it looks stunning. I breathe in the sharp morning air, cleansing my lungs, trying to slow the thumping of my heart. Do you remember, my darling, the first time we tried to conquer this hill? My fear of heights overwhelmed me and we sought solace in a steaming hot beef stew and dumplings in the nearby tea room. This time, I’m alone, determined to overcome my apprehension, inspired by the dignity with which you faced your mortality.
I take my first step onto the dark millstone grit path, glistening with hillside stream water recently freed from its ice shackles. The sun warms the back of my neck as I place one foot in front of the other, breathing steadily. I make a pact with myself that I won’t look down until I reach to the top. Keep looking up, I remind myself as my mind winds back to the day of diagnosis. “There’s nothing more we can do Mr White.” We walked out of that oppressive consulting room in a daze. You turned to me, my darling, your eyes filled with tears and trepidation. My heart felt as if it was being wrenched from my body. We hugged each other, sobbing, not wanted to ever let go. We stood motionless as the world swirled around us at an alarming rate, our future distorted and blurred. We were so young with many dreams to fulfil together, and now only the wonderful memories remain.
As I near the summit, I have a compelling desire to look around me. The view is breath-taking. Reservoirs glisten, resembling eyes of unknown depth. Narrow country lanes weave across the terrain like arteries connecting the hillside villages, the vital organs of this living, breathing landscape. The last part of the path is a steep shale-filled gulley. It leers at me, precipitous and intimidating. I clench my hands, digging my nails hard into my palms, and take a long deep breath. All of a sudden, I feel you close beside me, enveloping me with your love, reassuring me onwards. A surge of courage carries me to the top. A solitary tree greets me; its naked boughs are a stark contrast against the dazzling whiteness of the snow surrounding us. Something catches my eye. Two balloons are caught in the tree, their flight to freedom prematurely curtailed by their streamers, which are entangled in the branches. An involuntary sob escapes as I realise they are gold and ivory - the colour scheme of our weddng! Tears roll down my frost-tinged cheeks as I life my face to the clear blue sky. "Thank you my darling."This was my entry for the Berkhamsted Writing Competition 2013