Through the night she awoke twice, and knew from the ambient light in her garden that it was snowing. She awoke to a new reality; a good old-fashioned snowfall. There had been earlier snows, but light ones that disappeared when the noon sun made its presence known. This was truly a blanket of white, as thick as a good duvet and as soft and perfect. She stood, looking out her bedroom’s French windows onto this new and wondrous world.
She enjoyed the sharpness of tree shadows in winter, every branch delineated in silhouette on the snow. She liked to see the trails the deer herd—she knew there were seven of them, so a herd it was—left in the snow on the lawn. She smiled at her bistro set, bravely out in the snow, the iron of the chairs so black in contrast to the white puffiness of the snow on the table and chair seats.
Then she noticed the footprints.
A man’s by the size. They crossed her patio, then came up the three steps to her French doors. Then … nothing.
There were no footprints going away from her windows. And there was no smudging of the footprint outlines, to suggest someone had stepped back into his own boot marks, in order to be funny. Or scary. Or just to be a jerk, she thought angrily. But she was frightened.
She checked the lock on the French doors. It was not a good lock. It is difficult to have a good lock on doors that both open, with no upright framing in the middle. No, she had wanted her bedroom to be fully open to her patio, so her French doors were the old fashioned type. The lock was engaged. As she knew it would be. She checked it nightly, as she checked her other doors, the ones with dead bolts.
Now shaking she stepped back. This housecoat is just not warm enough, these January mornings, she told herself.
That is when she noticed the tiny puddle of water on the floor, just inside the room, as though a piece of snow had fallen from a boot, and melted.