Buck up old girl: Time for action.
Jo put on her down coat. Best invention since the microwave. The toque that her paper boy left behind the last time he’d come in for a cup of hot chocolate would serve the purpose. She wrapped a multicoloured scarf around and around her neck and then her face until all she could see in the mirror were her eyes, peeking out like a small animal trapped in a cave. Which she would be if she didn’t hurry and start shovelling.
The snow was light and airy. Absolutely no good for building a snowman. Jo was making a quick job of it.
Ha! This should stop nosy Mr. Aziz from next door commenting on how someone 92 should not be shovelling snow – the old coot. She was positively flying down the walk but just as she reached the end where it joined the main sidewalk, Jo slipped on some hidden ice. She regained her footing and chipped away until pavement showed. She finished shovelling her walk and just to prove a point, part of Mr. Aziz’s.
As she walked back up the sidewalk, she noticed something in the snow beside her front stairs. She leaned over the railing to retrieve what she realized was a hat – another toque, that silly boy – and just as she grabbed at it, the railing gave way.
“Oh … ow … what on earth?” Jo was lying on top of the wrought iron railing. She tried to raise her head but it hurt too much, especially her cheek. This is ridiculous. She started to roll onto her back but stopped as a searing pain ripped through her hip. This can’t be it. She tried again but the pain was so severe she passed out.
“What are you doing here?”
Fred was looking down at her. He was smiling – the same roguish smile that won her heart that first day at the Farm.
“Fred, how can this be? You’re here.”
Fred said nothing but kept smiling.
She must be dead.
When she woke up, she raised her hand to her cheek and felt a padded bandage covering the right side. She knew where she was. She hoped she hadn’t been unconscious for long. Who knows what they gave her and what it did to her: Loose lips sink ships.
A young man, barely out of short pants, stood by the side of her bed. He put his hand on the railing and smiled down at her.
“Do you know where you are?”
“A hospital.” Her voice a croak; her throat so dry, she motioned for the young man to hand her the glass of water on the side table.
“Yes, very good. And do you know what year it is?”