As Alex runs on, snow begins to fall. A lone ambulance speeds down the road behind him, screeching to a juddering halt outside the insignificant cottage he had been gazing at only moments before. A red-breasted robin joins the dawn chorus as the suns shoulder peers over the brow of the far hills.
The snow continues its fatal journey towards the ground, muffling all sounds while two seemingly yellow men exit the van and rush through the cast iron gate as it creaks in disapproval on its hinges.
Alex runs on as they break though the tiny green front door amid protest from the sleepy neighbours. The old man who lives next door pokes a raging head out of his bedroom window under the eaves, ready to shout abuse at the early alarm. Seeing the uniforms disappearing into the young woman's house silences him and he wanders back, grumbling and curious to his bed and wife.
Alex runs on as they scramble up the winding stairs, dark with cobwebs and forgotten things. Neither notice the carefully placed postcards lining the yellow peeling walls that follow the narrow staircase to its fateful end. Faded almost to nothing they guard the passage upwards. Faring from exotic place in the world, they stand to attention as the intruders dash past.
The sky streaks with the pink of early morning sun as he runs on.
The younger man, with deep blue eyes, does see the two photographs at the head of the stairs however, as his greying companion hurries on. Two children holding hands, with cherubic lips, laughing eyes and matching heights grin out from the first picture; that joyous seventh birthday captured forever. The second photograph is even more beautiful; it pictures the girl from the first photo, older, maybe fifteen. Her eyes fill the photo, sad eyes, haunted even, as she stares at camera with a baleful expression on her face, overflowing with fear and loaded rage. It tells a story that the wondering paramedic has yet to find out.
Alex runs on as the first paramedic bursts through her bedroom door and beholds her stiffening body, swinging from the beam.
As he runs on, a whistling early morning postman drops a single brown envelope through the letterbox of No15, Stoneshill Avenue.
As he runs on and the snow falls, her body twists and turns, the bare scars catching the pale sunlight. The two men gape in wonder at the sparkling girl before them.
Her body glistens as the younger paramedic always dreamed an angel's wings would look. An image of this scarred girl with powerful, feathered wings sprouting from her shoulder blades rests in his mind as he watches his companion carefully cut her down. He sees her standing, glowing with an unearthly aura, in the frosted field beyond the cottage he is rooted in.
The white powder crunches beneath his feet as he runs on.
She stretches her glittering white wings and soars into the lightning sky effortlessly. Before disappearing into the flaming orb of the rising sun she glances back towards the world she left behind with a lingering expression of sorrow on her face, sorrow for having left someone she loved and shame for the cowardice of her actions.
"I'm sorry" the whisper seems to leave the room on the wind and echoes across the valley.
Alex pauses by his front door, alert at the sound of her voice. My imagination again, he thinks to himself as he bends down to pick up the brown envelope.