Conrad & Eleanor

Conrad & Eleanor by Jane Rogers Read Free Book Online

Book: Conrad & Eleanor by Jane Rogers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jane Rogers
Tags: Fiction
tells him different and he’s pitching down the hillside like a drunken giant, too rushed and stupid to put on the skis which would have flown him there, striding and gasping and falling and dragging himself up again, keep going keep going keep going. Snow starts to fall as he careers down, big soft heavy flakes that blot the distance, now he can’t see them on the hill opposite, now all he can see is the flakes up against his face, huge on his lashes, cold in his eyes.
    Suddenly there are dark figures, a large and a small, El and Paul. He realises they are on the farmhouse track. She looks up astonished to see him.
    â€˜Con! Where are the others? Are you all right?’
    â€˜Yes —’ He’s breathless. ‘I couldn’t keep up.’
    â€˜Paul needs a poo, I’m taking him back. The others are with Marie.’
    â€˜I’ll – OK.’ It’s not here. He needs to get up that hill. He’s dumped his skis and poles on the track, he’s plunging away from them, El’s surprised voice curving after him – ‘Con?’ – but already they’re behind him and he’s penetrating the whiteness ahead, it’s closing in, the sky is snowing down to meet the ground and he’s charging up the hill with his freed and flailing arms for balance, he’s powering up to the top. Where one of the other mothers appears dragging her twins on the big sledge. She gives the sledge a shove that sends it flying down towards the farm, the two boys squealing with joy.
    â€˜They’re coming up now —’ She waves her hand at the hillside behind, and plunges after her boys.
    And then Con sees Marie with her Charlotte, and Megan, halfway down the hill. Where’s Cara? He’s galumphing down towards them and Megan’s crying and he’s snagged by that but Cara, where’s Cara? And Marie is shouting, ‘Megan fell off but Cara —’ and he’s galloping and slithering down the hill and there’s the sledge below him but Cara’s not on it. His mind can see and scan and calculate it all in a still glassy moment while his ungainly heavy body stumbles and heaves and falls impossibly slowly towards where he needs to be like the powerless body of his nightmares. The sledge is a funny shape, it’s half buried in snow – no, it’s broken, the front has snapped off. He’s staring through the dizzying snow – the sledge has hit something, a rock or a post, it has snapped, it’s ricocheted back. Cara will be up ahead, she’s light enough, surely, to have sailed over – he plunges on he plunges on there’s no knowing which direction but he plunges on in this one noticing that the snow is deeper down here, harder to walk in, there’s no crust it must be sheltered by the next slope. If he doesn’t find her soon — He’s going to find her he’s going to find her. There’s a dark thing there a kind of – what is it? Her feet! Her feet sticking out of the snow and he grabs her wellies her little ankles inside them he tightens his grip and pulls her out. She’s flown into the snow bank head first, she’s been posted into the snow by her momentum, and there’s no blood no damage. As he wipes the snow from her face she stares at him, amazed, and he waits for her to cry, but she focuses and a grin spreads across her face. ‘Dadda!’
    She is unharmed. They work out later that she can only have been in the snow for a minute; Megan had just tumbled off when he saw her. Marie was waiting to catch them halfway down but she missed and Cara sailed on. But if he had not been there – how quickly could the falling snow have hidden her? Would she have been able to make herself heard, buried head first in the snow? Could she have dragged herself out? How quickly could anyone else have been down there to look for her? The new snow fell relentlessly all

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