(prompt: ‘deep’ – 10/1/2020)
There was a woman sitting alone at the end of the bar, her bent head and drooping body fairly shouting her despair and obvious pain… of heart and spirit. Five years ago? Really? Five years since THAT skiing season when her heart-breakingly handsome husband, the Marquis de Lyons, had sat beside her at this famous àpres ski bar at Meribel. An involuntary shudder briefly shook her thin frame as the memories crowded back in like petulant children, each demanding to be heard first .
Less than two weeks into the official snow season, she thought. And once again she was watching him ride the cable car to the highest take-off point of the Grand Slalom, ready to defy the odds once more. Rocking from one foot to the other, among the expectant crowd far below, the Marchioness couldn’t help a flutter of errant nerves. Glancing furtively at the upturned, confident face of Jean Pierre, the Marquis’s manservant, she felt a sense of calm cloaking her doubts. So often he had told her how his heart had once been filled with dread, every time he reluctantly witnessed his beloved master performing the steep and demanding downhill run of the course – all 1400 ft. of it. But no more. Not since so many victories had been so hard won. None knew it was not the Marquis’s destiny to win this one.
The trauma of the accident was far behind them all now, as were those horrific hours, days and weeks when they doubted he would survive, then came to believe he would never walk again, let alone pick up his treasured skis and fly like a bird once more down the terrifying slopes. Challenge enough for the able-bodied – but now with one ‘real’ leg and the other an amazing blade-runner substitute, it was simply unthinkable. On those intolerably pain-filled days it took a greater stretch of imagination than either thought themselves capable of to move forward. But something always spurred them on. More often than not it was the Marquis’s favourite saying – _what does not kill me, makes me stronger_. And it did… for a time.
Beyond all expectations, he returned to the sport that was his life. Bizarre that just when they had both reached a place deep inside when, on a good day, they could look upon the handicap as having little more than nuisance value, his valiant heart gave up it’s ferocious battle. And her heart broke.
Although much time had slowly and painfully dragged by, a return to this place had taken almost more courage than the Marchioness had ever summoned up, and had it not been for the kindly promise of Jean Pierre to care and share their common memories, she knew she could never— A hand settled gently on her shoulder and she felt again that sense of calm enfolding her, enabling her to sit tall once more, as she turned with a sad smile.