Sorry for the wait! I've been quite busy lately.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

~X~

My body felt the same as it did before when I woke up. Actually it hurt more than it did before. I felt like I had woken up on a bed of pins. Any type movement made me feel like thousands of hair thin needles were stabbing into every single pore in my body, but this time I welcomed the pain. It rid my mind of the grogginess from sleep. I blinked my eyes a few times to making my vision clear. When the room came into focus I slowly moved myself into a sitting position, wincing at my sore muscles. It was then that I noticed that I wasn't alone.

He sat in a chair to the left of the bed; his face utterly expressionless as he reclined in the seat. He said nothing, greeting me with silence, which, for some reason, made me a little apprehensive. It was like the calm before the storm. I had a strong feeling that something was going to happen, something was wrong. I could feel it as if someone was writing it in the air between us. So I waited, as he tapped his finger insistently and regarded him with silence as well. Not that I could have greeted him even if I wanted to. My throat felt like it was being constricted by a python. It was difficult enough just to swallow let alone to speak. Silence was spread thickly throughout the room, but, for the first time, I won at the game of patience.

With a start, he stood up from the chair, ran his hands through his hair and walked over to the window on the other side of my bed.

His voice was low as he stared out at the world of white, "How do you feel?"

I swallowed, and then winced at the pain it caused. When I tried to clear my throat a fit of coughs plagued my body making my chest hurt a little. He turned to face me when my answer was slow coming, and gave me an assessing look as if the answer to his question was written on my face.

"We'll be leaving soon," he said with a hard expression. "The storm will settle down, and it'll be easier to travel." He walked back over to the chair and sat down. His finger resumed tapping as he watched me.

There was nothing I could say to that, just as there wasn't much of anything I could do in this situation.

I knew we weren't going to stay here for long, but where were we going after this? How far away was it? How long would it take us to get there? My heart trembled at the thought of leaving, at the thought that I might never get a chance like this again. There were people who could help me here, people who could call the authorities or something. Yet, I couldn't ignore the risk of doing so. Could I handle the consequences of getting someone else involved if things went wrong? I was still on edge about the doctor and the old lady. If he found out about the doctor's visit I'm not sure what'd he do. I was sure he didn't know or he would have said something. Or would he? I feared for the doctor, but more so for the elder woman, all this was more or less her doing.

Still, even with the risks, I'd be a fool to pass up such an opportunity. This might be my only chance to find help. Not only that, but this could be my only shot at getting home. A second shot actually, having blown my first shot when the doctor had been here earlier. I'd been slow to realize what a prime opportunity that had been. There was still hope though, the doctor was coming back, so maybe, just maybe, I might get another chance. Yet, I wasn't sure if the doctor coming back was an entirely good thing. If the doctor came back while he's still here there was going to be problems, I could feel it.

I turned to look out the window; its warped plane hindered the view of the winter wonderland on the other side. For some reason, I found myself drawn to windows more and more lately, but not so much the window itself as to what was on the other side of the glass plane. If there was anything that I had become used to since I'd been here, it would be the snow. I couldn't keep my eyes away from it. Back in that cabin, there wasn't much of anything to do, so most of the time I found myself looking through a window watching the snow fall. I'd come to find it fascinating, enthralling almost, it was perhaps the only thing in nature that I liked. It was such a rarity in my home state, snow doesn't come often, and when it does it doesn't last long. Maybe that was why I found it so alluring. Or maybe it was because of the way it fell from the sky. They were like microscopic, crystalline structured angels that floated down from heaven. They danced to the will of the wind until reaching the ground where they lay next to thousands of others like them, yet no two the same in any way. Each had its own unique design and moved in its own way. It was downright beautiful when you took a moment to admire it. I could truly love the snow if it didn't come with the cold air, yet the two went hand in hand. One could not exist without the other.

"We'll leave tomorrow," he said with a slight nod as if his decision were made. He stood up from the chair once more and stared down at me. "Early, before the sun comes up."

I didn't understand why he felt the need to tell me this. It wasn't like I had much of a say or a choice. Looking down at my hands I realized they were as empty and unable as a child's. For as long as I could remember they had always been that way. Always didn't have to mean forever though, things could change. I could change, if I tried hard enough.

The bed dipped and I looked up to find him sitting on its edge, near my feet. He looked over at me opened his mouth, paused, then closed it and turned to look at the wall. He yanked a hand through his hair and let out a breath. From his actions, it was obvious that he had something to say. I could see his jaw working and his eyebrows were knitted with tension, but he kept quiet, eyes fixed on the wall. I drew my les up to my chest so they wouldn't be so close to him. My joints crack in protest as I rested my head on my knees. He glanced over at me again, sighed, and once again ran a hand though his hair. His silence added an awkward hint to the room. Our minds kept us quiet as stillness stifled the air.

Nothing ever seemed to move here. I had thought that it had been only the cabin that could ever be so silent, but maybe it was every place up north. Was it quiet everywhere you went up here? Was the stillness always so thick you could choke on it? It made me feel out of place here. I didn't live in a major city, but it was never this quiet in my town. Even if there wasn't anyone outside you could still here the distant sound of the birds, or the low grumble of an engine. It was never this quiet, never this still. It was the type of stillness that almost made scared to move in fear of making a sound. As if making any noise would set off an explosion or something. Not even mice dare disturb it, and when you did hear something stirring you nearly jumped out of your skin at the sudden noise.

That's why when a knock came to the door, we flinched in surprise. It sent my heart racing as he shot from the bed. He made no move toward the door though. The thought of who might be on the other side of it almost had me jumping out of bed as well. I looked over at him but his face had gone as expressionless as stone.

Everything was still for a few seconds, then the knock came again. He made no indication of answering the door. I was sure he was waiting to see if the person would go away, but by the third, and fourth, knock if became apparent that whoever it was, wasn't going anywhere. A muffled voice came through the door, followed by another voice in a different tone. On the fifth knock he started toward the door with a grave expression.

He opened the door partially, enough so that the people on the other side could see him, but nothing more.

"Good evening," there was a small pause where, if the other person had wanted to, they could have said their greeting as well. When there was no reply the person continued. "You must be Matthew. I—"

"Is there something you need?" he cut in.

No one replied for a second. I was beginning to notice how his antisocial bluntness often left people unable to find words.

The doctor cleared his throat, but before he could say his reply someone else cut in.

"He's here to see the girl. She's been shut up in that room for nearly four days now. Nobody but you has been in to see her. It don't –"

"Maybe you should go back downstairs, Mary-Ann," the doctor interrupted.

"Don't you start telling me what I should do."

"I wouldn't think of it. It was merely a suggestion."

"I don't need any suggestions, Tom," the woman added, her rising temper plainly heard in her voice. "I've 'bout had all your sweet talking?"

"Is there something you need?" he repeated, saying the words slower.

Again, things went quiet. Both of them could probably hear the edge in his voice. The doctor cleared his throat once more.

"Uh, yes, I would like to check up on the young miss, if I could," the physician said.

"No."

The answer was quick and final. I was a little surprised by it. No excuse, no avoidance, just a plain and simple 'no'.

Needless to say, it rendered the woman and the doctor speechless, and even more so when he closed the door in their faces without any form of a good-bye. Before he could even take a step away though, there was a knock. He paused, but didn't turn until the knocking turned into banging. When he reopened the door, the woman lit into him.

"I've 'bout had it with your rudeness. You've got some nerve closing the door on me like that. If you were my child I would've bent you over my knee and given you a good licking—"

"Mary-Ann, maybe this isn't a good time for that."

"Don't you go grabbing me, Tom. It's as good a time as any."

"Give this to the young miss every six hours. It'll help her throat and it should keep the fever down," Tom said ignoring the old woman's heated comments. "I hope we haven't spoiled your night."

"Spoiled his night?" the elderly woman said sounding offended.

"How about I make some green tea, I hear it's very calming," the doctor said. I saw him through the crack in the door as he passed by, calmly escorting the woman with him.

"I don't need no tea."

The sound of their bickering faded as they made their way down the hall. He closed the door softly behind him. There was a small bag in his hand as he came over and sat down on the edge of the bed. He put the bag on the floor and rubbed his face into his hands. For a moment he was utterly still, then he turned his head to glance at me and I could see the small fire in his eyes.

"We leave tomorrow."