Troubles in the snow

Lees in het Nederlands

It is early October when Ella and Julia move into a beautiful cozy mountain hut high in the Alps. In a few days a helicopter with the last supplies for the winter will come by. They will have to endure the long winter with that one drop. The hut is not very popular during the winter months but people are always there for safety. The highlights of the coming winter will be the sporadic groups of tour skiers. Other than that, they will have to endure each other there.

Ella knows Julia from a trip years ago, she was trekking independently from hut to hut, when she encountered Julia, also hiking alone, during a lunch break. They soon found out that they had the same passion for the high mountains. Although Ella, with her Dutch background, had to work hard to become familiar with the mountains and Julia, who is Austrian, was regularly found at altitude from her early childhood, they still had enough similarities to quickly click. After lunch they hiked together to the cabin for the evening. They had dined together and over the second glass of wine they decided to move on together. For years their friendship was limited to one or two trips a year, until last summer Julia heard of the opportunity to spend the winter at altitude as a hut innkeeper. When Ella heard about Julia’s plan to spend a whole winter high in the mountains, she couldn’t resist inviting herself. It appealed to her to be completely cut off from the outside world for a few months with nothing but nature around her. This could be the way to focus completely on drawing and writing the children’s book she’s dreamed of doing for years. In no time they had arranged and agreed everything and at the beginning of August they left for the hut for a few days to form an idea of what awaits them in the coming winter. They talked to the summer innkeeper about what is and isn’t in the cabin and what is expected of them. When they left again a few days later, they were both twice as excited about the coming winter as they were before. Before they knew it, the time had come and at the beginning of October it was time to take over the duties of the summer innkeeper. The first few days they have been busy organizing their personal space. While they haven’t been able to carry more than they could carry with the backpack, enough items have been left in the cabin over the years to make their personal living space a pleasant place to be. What Ella is still missing is her collection of books for inspiration and her drawing and painting supplies. They come up with the helicopter together with the food supplies. Until then, she has to make do with her e-reader and the games that can be found in the hut.

Soon the two have found a rhythm that they feel comfortable with. In the morning, after breakfast, they work on their own projects for a few hours. Ella is busy forming a frame for her book and Julia is carving a wooden statue. Then they eat lunch together and put on the right clothes to go for a walk. Rain or shine, this is what they came for. First they follow the trails in different directions. Sometimes there is snow on the ground but not too much to lose sight of the trails. They discover how varied their environment is. Their hut is in a kind of bowl. A small dam ensures that the water that flows from the high peaks around the hut remains in a shallow lake. There are some small trees and shrubs that give some extra shelter in the bowl. The surrounding peaks, on the other hand, are stony and now permanently white again. The narrow valley through which the abundant water from the lake flows is very green. Close to the hut it is mainly coniferous trees that determine the image, but the lower you go, the more deciduous wood there is between the evergreen trees. And because the real winter weather has not yet shown, the discolored leaves of many plants are still there. Red, orange, yellow and deep purple hues can be seen everywhere. Ella and Julia enjoy the diversity that the landscape still has to offer. Before long, everything will be completely covered with a white layer and it will take until spring before they are welcomed again by the young spring greenery.

On the day the helicopter will arrive, the women go out early. They have been instructed to place a large H on an area of ​​fifteen by fifteen meters. Because it snowed last night, they start clearing the ground with snow shovels as best they can. “I thought we were fit Julia, I’m already out of breath,” Ella says with a flushed head, “How am I going to do this on my own in an emergency? I’ll never make it, can I?” “Of course you can. You are still not fully acclimated. You were still in that flat country of yours two weeks ago.” Ella laughs, “You’re right. Maybe besides walking I will also go for a run every day, let’s see how fit I will be at the end of the winter.” They work steadily and as soon as there is only a thin layer of snow, they apply a large H with a natural dye. “Time for a cup of tea”, Julia says as they proudly look at their work together. “Delicious! I could use something warm.” Armed they walk back to the hut. Smoke curls up through a now clear blue sky. Ella gives a deep sigh when she sees the sight. She feels the peace and enjoys the beauty. “What a privilege to be able to experience this, don’t you think?” Julia just nods, also completely absorbed in the beauty of the moment.

After the tea they hang around restlessly in the hut. “Did they say what time the helicopter is coming?” “No idea.” “I hope…” Ella’s voice fades. She walks to the window and peers out. Julia follows her. “Do you hear anything?” “Yes, I thought so, but now I”m in doubt. Maybe it was my imagination.” “No”, Julia points to the blue sky, “I see a very small dot there, that must be it.” Ella sees it now too, “Let’s meet him outside, I can’t wait to get all my stuff.” Exuberant, they put on their warm coats and shoes again. When they come outside they see that the dot is indeed the helicopter, the flapping of the blades can now be heard much more clearly. Not much later, the helicopter skims over their heads, makes an honorary circle through the bowl where the hut is and lands elegantly on the H painted by the women. Julia and Ella have already come a lot closer but are still waiting for the blades stand completely still. The pilot steps out of the helicopter and approaches the women with his hand outstretched. “Michael Swartz, nice to meet you.” Julia takes a step forward and shakes the outstretched hand “Hi, I’m Julia Richter and this is Ella van Steenwijk.” “Welcome Michael, we’re glad you’re here. We’ve been missing our things,” Ella adds when she also shakes Michael’s hand. “Let’s unload quickly then,” Michael says with a grin. “Are you staying for lunch?” Julia asks. “Yes, please, I don’t have any other flights for the time being.” “Good, then I’ll prepare something while you’ll get busy unloading, then I’ll come and help.” Julia disappears towards the cabin and Michael opens the helicopter door. Ella sees that everything is packed in large plastic crates. “If I’m right, there should be a trolley in the cabin so we can make our life a bit easier.” says Michael. “Do you happen to know where?” Ella asks, “I don’t think we’ve come across it yet.” “Look in the ski room”, Michael helps. Ella heads to the ski room to look for the trolley. Meanwhile, Michael starts piling the crates three crates high next to the helicopter. Soon Ella is back and scoops the first stack of crates onto the trolley and starts walking back to the cabin with it. Fortunately, the wheels are nice and big so that she can easily get through the snow. When Julia comes to help, a lot has already been done and in no time everything is inside. The women finish preparing lunch together and Michael sets the table for the three of them. During lunch, a light-hearted conversation starts. Ella talks about her dismissal she received at the beginning of the summer. “After a week I realized that it is actually a blessing. I was not at all happy with the work I had to do. Every day I went to work with less pleasure. Making copies for others, making coffee. I felt underappreciated, not a valued employee. Actually, I should have made the decision myself a long time ago, but apparently I needed this. I’ve taken the time to recuperate and ask myself what I want to do next. And then I talked to Julia…” Ella winks at Julia and is silent. Julia gets it and takes over the story. “I told Ella about an old acquaintance of mine that I ran into after years. He is a volunteer with the Alpine Association and is involved in the occupation of the huts that are run by volunteers. Before I knew it I had made myself available to man a cabin for once. Two weeks later he called me to ask if I would like to stay in this cabin this winter. Of course I couldn’t say no to that and I didn’t even have to ask Ella, she offered herself right away.”

“You are going to experience a very unique winter together.” Michael says with a laugh, “I hope you’ll still be good friends after the snow has thawed. It is a challenge to be so dependent on each other.” “I hope so. We talked about it beforehand. Fortunately, we each have our own projects that we can work on and if we are lucky, we will occasionally receive a visit from adventurers who conquer the deep snow.” Ella says lightly. The conversation continues for a while. Unexpectedly, Michael’s radio begins to crackle. He is called upon to fly back as soon as possible. It is not clear to the women what is going on. Michael races out. “Good luck ladies and thanks for lunch.” “Thank you too!” they shout in unison. As they check the helicopter, Julia says, “Now it really starts. Shall we organize the stuff? I can’t wait to get my whole set of chisels to make a bigger statue.” “Me too! I’m all set to start making my drawings.” First they clear all food supplies and then they get to work unpacking their personal items. Ella frees up space in one of the cupboards in the common room. She carefully fills the cupboard with all the paper, paint, jars, pens, brushes and pencils and more. When everything is in the cupboard, she takes a step back and sighs with satisfaction. “Now I can really get to work,” she says to the empty space. Then she goes looking for Julia. She finds her in her room, also finishing the unpacking. Ella gives a soft knock on the open door. “Shall we go for a little walk? Then I cook a nice meal afterwards.” “Yeah, great, it’s still so beautiful outside. Let’s enjoy that for a while. You never know how long it will stay that way.”

When Ella wakes up the next morning, the wind is howling around the hut, she sees the snowflakes passing almost horizontally in front of the windows. “The perfect day to get started with my book,” she tells herself. She hasn’t heard or seen Julia yet so she decides to have breakfast alone and then quickly get to work. She makes a fire in the fireplace to create the perfect atmosphere and then she goes looking for the things she needs for her work. She opens the cupboard where she put everything yesterday. Neatly organized she finds everything as she left it yesterday. When she takes the things she needs now, she notices that all the paper has disappeared. Did I put it somewhere else, she asks herself. She’s pretty sure she didn’t, but opens all the doors just to be sure and searches the entire closet. But it’s nowhere. Irritated, she goes looking for Julia. Without paper it becomes very difficult to write and draw a book. She pauses in front of Julia’s door for a moment, takes a deep breath to dispel the worst irritation. Then she knocks. No reaction. She knocks again, this time a little louder. Nothing yet. “Julia? Are you there?” Nothing. Ella’s hand moves carefully to the door handle. Just as she begins to push the latch down she hears behind her, “Ella? What’s up?” Startled, she turns around. “You scared me. I thought you were still in your room. I hadn’t seen or heard you all morning.” “Then I must have been very quiet, because I’ve done a lot this morning”, Julia says deflectingly, “but what can I help you with?” “Did you by chance take my paper, it’s not in the cupboard anymore.” “No, what am I supposed to do with that?” “I don’t know, but it’s not where I put it yesterday.” “Weird, I don’t know,” Julia says looking around, “shall we search?” “No, you go on with what you’re doing. I’ll take a look around, maybe I thoughtlessly put it somewhere else.” “Okay, whatever you want,” says Julia, and strides away. Confused, Ella is left alone and looks around. She decides to look at the cabin from top to bottom. She starts with the last room in the hallway. It is a room where about ten people can sleep. Everything looks as it should. Next room, same story. As soon as she opens the third door, she sees her stack of papers on the front bed. Ella looks around the room in despair. Everything looks the same as normal, except for that stack of paper. Very carefully she picks up her paper, almost as if she’s afraid something will pop out the moment she disrupts the place. But nothing happens. When she closes the door behind her, she tries to get rid of the fear.

“You found it,” Julia says as Ella enters the common room. “Yeah, I don’t get it at all. It was in room five on the first bed. How is that possible?” “I really have no idea Ella,” Julia says in a rather impassive tone. Ella doesn’t understand it, but feels that she should say nothing more about it. She sits down at the table and tries to shake it off and get to work. She reads through her notes and then starts sketching. She can’t keep her attention on the work. Again and again she finds herself staring out the window at the snowflakes racing by. “Do you fancy lunch?” Julia’s question awakens her from her musings. “Yes, shall I help?” “No, I’ll make it. Can you cook again tonight?” Surprised, Ella continues to stare as Julia heads to the kitchen. Julia seems to act as if nothing happened at all. Or am I making things much bigger than they are?, she wonders. She shakes off the feelings and goes back to work. Finally she manages to produce something. Just when she starts to put the first colors on paper, Julia comes in with two plates with an extensive lunch. Slightly disappointed, she puts her brush aside and sits down at the table with Julia. “I think I want to go outside for a while, it seems that the wind has died down a bit and it’s not snowing so hard anymore,” says Julia, “do you want to come?” “I think I’ll stay here for a while. Finally got the hang of it.” “That’s good for you. Then I immediately have a good excuse to go out with the camera that I inherited from my great-uncle. So nice that we now have our stuff here.” “Indeed. And with this weather, it’s a good thing that our snowshoes are now here too. Hopefully the weather will be nicer tomorrow,” says Ella, “then I can practice a bit on those things.” “That seems like a good plan, it’s been a while for me too,” says Julia. They discuss what to hike tomorrow as they finish eating their lunch. Once finished, Ella takes the plates back to the kitchen and Julia gathers her things to head out into the cold. When Julia has left and Ella is back with a brush in her hand, she wonders what’s going on: This morning’s Julia was very different from the person I know. She has no answer to her own question. Let me put on some music, that will distract me a bit. She puts an old CD into the even older stereo tower, which has been part of the interior for years. As soon as the music comes out of the speakers, she throws a few more blocks of wood on the fire. She’s finally got the work rhythm going. The day ends like all previous days, in peace and harmony.

The next morning she wakes up early, it is calm outside. It is cloudy and some snow comes down now and then but there is enough visibility to see how much snow is covering the area. There is no more green to be seen. She quietly goes to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. She wants to enjoy the outdoors and the view while waking up with her cup of coffee. But when she goes looking for her warm boots, she can’t find them anywhere. Even all her other shoes seem to have disappeared without a trace. Frustrated, she walks around the hut but can’t find them anywhere. Finally, she takes a pair of Julia’s and walks out with her lukewarm coffee. Vaguely she sees the footprints Julia left behind yesterday. While trying to relax, she drinks her coffee. Then her eye falls on the ski room. You can only get there from the outside, there is no door leading there from the hut. Obviously no one has been there for a while as the snow in front of it is impeccable. Still, she feels that she should go and have a look. She opens the door and screams. There they are, all her shoes, neatly lined up. Bewildered, she stares straight ahead for a while. She doesn’t understand it, first her paper, now those shoes. No one but Julia could have done this, but she denies. And why would she move her stuff anyway? Just as she bends down to collect the shoes, she hears a voice whisper, “This is just the beginning.” She jumps up like a jack-in-a-box and looks around, but no one is there. She is at the door in two steps, but no one is outside either. She quickly gathers all her shoes together, slams the door behind her and runs back to the warmth of the cabin. There she puts her shoes and Julia’s back where they belong. She prepares her breakfast on autopilot and, deep in thought, gulps it down. Once she’s finished it, Ella has decided she must be imagining it all. With self-confidence regained, she picks up her work again and gets to work sketching the next print. While she is working Julia comes in and stammers “good morning” and seems lost in her own world. Ella has decided not to say anything about the shoes. “Are we going for a walk after lunch?” she asks. Julia absently hums a vague answer. Ella shrugs and goes back to her work. She regularly notices that her thoughts wander, while floating with her brush above the paper she stares into nothingness. Again and again she tries to shake it off. Julia walks back and forth from time to time. It is completely unclear to Ella what she is doing. After a few more attempts to focus on her work, she gives up. She goes to the kitchen to start lunch. Not much later, Julia also appears in the kitchen. “Have you started lunch already?” “Yeah, I couldn’t concentrate.” “I hope it wasn’t because of me,” Julia says in an apologetic tone, “I tried to bother you as little as possible.” “No, no, it has nothing to do with you. My mind keeps wandering,” says Ella while she immediately thinks: or do you have something to do with it? She just doesn’t dare to ask. After lunch, both women change clothes and head out for their first snowshoe tour. Julia explains a few things about the techniques involved in walking on snowshoes. Ella picks it up quickly and they enjoy the environment. They see traces of game that crossed their path not too long ago. After walking in silence for a while, Julia stops unexpectedly and points ahead. Ella sees it too, a deer is looking at them with eyes wide open. It looks around for a moment and then jumps away with big jumps, reaches the forest edge and before they know it the deer is out of sight. They look at each other and smile. “This is why we do this, right?” “Certainly, this was a really magical moment,” says Ella, “I want to experience this more often.” “The quieter we are, the more likely we will,” Julia says and starts walking again. Ella pauses for a moment and looks at the vegetation around her. Some branches are bent very far from all the weight of the snow. Despite everything being white, the environment looks varied due to the different shapes and heights of the plants. Every plant carries the snow in a different way. “It’s a shame it’s so cloudy, otherwise it would look even more spectacular,” Ella says to herself. Suddenly the whole environment seems to wake up. A strong gust of wind shakes all branches and piles of snow plop down everywhere. “You’re worth nothing, what are you doing here?” Because of the sounds of the wind and the falling snow, Ella doesn’t recognize the voice, but she heard the message clearly. What is going on, she wonders. Uncertain and anxious, she quickly follows the footsteps of Julia, who disappeared around the corner. She continues as fast as she can until she can see Julia again. “Where were you? It’s really time to go back to the cabin. We don’t want to have to find our way in the dark!” Julia is clearly irritated. “Did you hear that too,” Ella asks, “the wind and that voice?” “Heard what? It is virtually windless all day. Let’s go now. Your imagination runs away with you. Perhaps you should not write for a day.” Surprised, Ella looks at Julia. She looks dead serious. “Are you kidding? Because I don’t think it’s funny.” “What am I supposed to joke about, there’s nothing wrong. Come on, let’s go.” Julia turns and trots away. Finally, Ella follows her as she reflects on what has happened over the past two days. Why would Julia act like that to her? There really are only two of them here, who else but Julia can do this to her. She decides to let it sink in for a few days. Then she can always address Julia about this afterwards. Strengthened by her decision, she and Julia complete the journey and as soon as they return they enjoy a hot chocolate together by a freshly lit fire.

The days that follow continue in the same pattern. Every morning something has disappeared and every now and then Elle hears a voice whispering about how worthless she is. The comments keep getting worse, the worst being that she has no right to live. Ella tries her best to act normal and work on her book. She seeks less and less contact with Julia and she also rarely seems interested in her. When one morning her entire paint set is gone, she’s done with it. “Julia! Where are you?” She runs through the hut screaming, but there is no response. She searches the entire cabin. She does find her paint set on a balcony, but Julia is nowhere to be seen. Defeated, she sits down by one of the windows and stares out. Hours pass when Ella is suddenly startled by Julia entering. “Julia!” it comes from Ella’s throat like a raw cry. “Quiet! You don’t have to scream like that. What’s the matter with you anyway?” She sits across from Ella. “Why do you keep hiding my things and saying nasty things to me?” Julia stares at her open-mouthed. “What am I doing?” “You heard me,” says Ella in a firm voice. “Indeed, I heard you, but I don’t believe my ears. How dare you accuse me like that?” Now it’s Ella’s turn to stare at Julia. “Who else should that be? There are just the two of us here?” Ella thinks it will probably be another month before they can expect the first guests. “Maybe you do it all yourself. You’ve always had a rich imagination.” “I do know what is real and what is fantasy. This really happens and I’m not doing it myself,” Ella sputters. “Believe me. I do nothing. I don’t touch your stuff and I don’t say anything strange. I’m done with this and don’t want to hear any more about it.” With a jerk Julia gets up and walks away with big strides. Ella is left stunned with tears in her eyes. This is not the Julia she knows and the whole situation terrifies her. She decides to give Julia the benefit of the doubt. She won’t say anything more about it because that won’t improve the atmosphere for the coming months. Somehow she hopes that after this moment all the strange things will be over. Full of good intentions she tries to pick up normal life again.

But the next morning she notices that everything is still wrong. And in the days that follow, things from her keep disappearing and reappearing in the strangest places. The whispers are getting louder. She hears words like death and murder more and more often, in ever new sentences. At first it was once a day but over the days it builds up to as many as ten comments a day. Ella becomes more and more nervous, sits in her room more and more, afraid of the voice and what will disappear next. Julia only sees them now and then and she never knows how she will react. Very occasionally it is the old Julia, but more and more it is a very angry and grumpy woman. The ‘good’ Julia doesn’t seem to notice that anything is going on. She talks small talk while Ella listens quietly. When Ella hardly sleeps anymore, all she can think about is when someone will finally come to visit and the end of winter. She wants to leave. Why on earth is she still here? She realizes that she has to take the initiative herself. No one will come to rescue her. She can no longer be a victim of the situation. She should have gone earlier. There have been days when all the snow around the cabin had melted away. But now there is an extremely thick layer of snow. Maybe all the way down to the valley. “Okay, then I’ll have to walk all the way down on snowshoes. That will be a very long day,” Ella whispers to herself. But she doesn’t like the option of staying at the hut at all. Now she can think somewhat clearly, but the question is how long that will last. “Julia must not know anything about this. Who knows how she will react. Tonight I’ll smuggle some food from the kitchen to my room and then I’ll leave when it’s still dark.” She knows the first part down quite well, so she should be able to do that in the dark. “I hope I don’t get lost because then I’ll be in even more trouble.” She picks up a notebook and begins to think about what she needs to get down safely. The lighter her bag. the easier the journey will be. Once she has completed her list, she decides to behave as much as she has lately. As soon as she is downstairs pretending to draw something she hears: “You need to die, why don’t you do yourself that pleasure?” She looks around anxiously. No one is inside, but then she sees Julia outside carrying some wood. As if she knows that Ella is watching, she turns her head to the cabin, looks Ella straight in the eye and runs a finger down her throat. Startled, she looks away and remains frozen. When she sees in the corner of her eye that Julia is out of view, she jumps up and runs to her room. She starts throwing things in her bag like crazy. Tears roll down her cheeks. She wants to leave now, but she can’t. Then she has to spend the night in the cold in the wilderness, and that’s even more dangerous than staying here. Just a little longer, just a little longer. With that mantra she falls asleep.

She is awakened by a knock on her door. “Ella, are you there? Are you coming for dinner? I cooked a nice evening meal.” Julia’s voice is soft and friendly. “I’m coming, I think I’ve fallen asleep. What time is it?” “Seven o’clock sleepyhead, I’ll see you downstairs. Take your time.” They eat together and it’s actually nice too. But Ella really hasn’t forgotten what happened earlier in the day. She doesn’t understand Julia’s hypocritical behavior. What she does know for sure is that she will leave the hut an hour before sunrise to never come back. “Let me clean up the mess”, says Ella after dinner, “you cooked such a delicious meal, now it’s my turn.” “Then I can continue with my wood carving”, says Julia, “ it isn’t really getting along.” Ella collects everything in the kitchen, cleans up, does the dishes and then she collects food for the road. When she’s done, she carefully checks that Julia isn’t somewhere in sight. But, as so often, she has disappeared. Ella quickly goes to her room with her arms full. After she has filled her bag before leaving, she goes to the kitchen and makes a cup of tea. In silence she says goodbye to the hut and all the things she is going to leave behind. She has no idea if she will ever come back here. When she arrives in civilization tomorrow what will she do? She has no idea about that either and doesn’t really want to think about it. All that matters now is get out of here safely. She doesn’t see Julia the rest of the evening. That’s a good thing, she thinks. She sits in her room and waits for the time to leave. She doesn’t want to set an alarm. Afraid that she will somehow alert Julia to her impending departure. She is reading a book. Charges her phone so she can use it tomorrow if she needs to. Here she has no reception but by the time she is almost there she hopes to be able to call the emergency services if necessary. The night passes slowly and calmly. As morning approaches, she dresses warmly. Checks that she really has everything that is absolutely necessary and then very gently opens her door. The hallway is empty and she tiptoes out of her room and closes the door again. It’s best if Julia realizes she’s gone as late as possible. At the front door she puts on her shoes and coat. Within minutes she is outside with her backpack on her back and snowshoes in her hands. She will do the first part without the snowshoes. Only when she is out of sight of the hut does she want to tie them to her shoes. Fortunately it is cloudy. That lessens the chances of Julia seeing her leave, though the snow means she can still make out her surroundings. Ella takes a deep breath and then begins to make her way down as quietly as possible. With careful steps, so as not to slip, she leaves the hut behind her. Only after a quarter of an hour of walking does she dare to turn around for the first time. Only the tip of the roof protrudes above the vegetation. It stands out against the sky showing the first signs of a sunrise. As fast as she can, Ella put the snowshoes under her shoes. She is happy that she has recently practiced putting them on, taking them off and walking with them. It is not really comfortable, but she sinks less deep in the snow and has more grip.

By the time the day really has arrived, she has left the hut well behind her. She takes the time to study her map carefully. She knows where she is, but is afraid that not all paths will be equally easy to spot. “Actually, it’s a bad idea to do this on my own. But there’s no other option,” she tells herself. She makes steady progress and when she stops to catch her breath after a climb, the sun breaks through the clouds. The fear that covered her like a gray blanket seems to fall from her at once. The sun literally brings the light back into her life. She regularly takes short breaks because otherwise she cools down too much. When she looks around at such a moment of rest at a beautiful viewpoint, she sees a couple walking. “How do I get to them as quickly as possible?” She carries a whistle. “Shall I blow on that? Then they’ll probably wait for me and I won’t have to do the rest alone.” As quickly as possible she fumbles into her pocket and after dropping it the first time, she puts it in her mouth. The first whistle is too soft. The second blow is a bit louder and at the third she sees that the hikers have stopped and look around. She starts to wave and whistle a few more times. They wave back as soon as they see her. She starts to walk in their direction but they then point towards a forest a little further and start walking in that direction. Ella gets what they mean and starts walking in the same direction. She had almost walked into dangerous territory in her enthusiasm. As they walk to their meeting point, Ella thinks about what to say. The truth? But what if they think I’m crazy? Then they probably won’t help me. In the end, she decides to tell a slight distortion of the truth. Julia is ill and can’t walk to civilization herself, but it’s not threatening enough to use an emergency call. She is now on her way to get someone to pick up Julia with a snowmobile. The elderly couple, who are on a day trip, listen to her story with some suspicion, but they seem to accept it. The three of them look for the shortest way down. The couple has lived in this area all their lives, so they know all the routes and trails, which makes it a lot easier for Ella. As they get closer to civilization, Ella starts to worry again. Who should she approach for this? Who will believe her? What does she want to happen now? In fact, she wants to forget everything as soon as possible. The couple brings her to the door of the rescue service. “So girl, good luck with your friend. You can make it on your own from here, right?” “Yes, of course. Thank you so much for letting me join you. It was much easier than finding the way on my own. Then I would probably have been on the trail for a while longer.”

Ella watches until the couple has walked away. She tosses her snowshoes in front of the door and steps away in the other direction. Looking for the first bus or train that takes her to the Netherlands.

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