Driving home for Christmas was not fun in the snow, basically Jean hated it. She was longing for the warm spring and summer days when the roads were clear, no dangers of sliding on ice or ploughing through the snow. In the warmer days you can brake and the car comes to a clean stop not travelling any further. Braking on ice was something different. You never knew whether or when the car would come to a stop. She had to admit that the scenery was beautiful with the snow flakes feathering down and in the evening if you were lucky you could see the polar star to guide the way.
She said her goodbyes to her colleagues in the office and had a few drinks, but alcohol free. She did not want to risk more; it was bad enough driving through the snow in her normal physical condition. The way home was fairly straightforward although she had to drive through some valleys and over a few hills. She climbed into the car and drove off, the wheels turning on their own axis at the beginning before they had freed themselves from ice on the parking space. After crawling on the road surface for a few miles, she was approaching the tunnel and saw a figure standing at the road side. It seemed strange to find someone standing there waiting for a ride. Jean decided to pull up and offer help as she was sure it was not very pleasant in the cold snowy weather and she would also have someone to talk with.
As she got nearer she saw that the person needing help was a young lady dressed in white. She was wearing a long dress trimmed with white lace and was wearing a white knitted shawl over her shoulders. Her head was covered by a long white veil. It was a strange apparition standing at the road side and Jean pulled over, weaving her way through the snow flurries.
“Can I help you” she asked
She was answered by a nod of the head from the figure in white.
Jean took the answer as being in the affirmative and although she had had quite a few problems with the roads up to then, she decided that going through the tunnel would not be so dangerous.
“Just climb in and I will take you through the tunnel. It’s not the ideal weather to be walking at the moment.”
And then the figure in white spoke in a quiet voice. “I am on my way to a wedding at the church on the hill just over the tunnel. I feel quite comfortable travelling through the tunnel as I know the way very well. I have often travelled through the tunnel. I know every stone and every turning, mile for mile. Jean took a glance at the young lady and noticed she was looking through the front window of the car all the time.
“Now we are entering the second mile” the girl in white said “you can tell by the way the air is changing, we will soon be out. “
“If only the weather would be better on the other side” Jean thought to herself, as she saw the exit approaching.
She was surprised when she was leaving the tunnel. The sun was shining and the snow and ice had almost melted, only to be seen on the surrounding scenery at the roadside. She turned to her passenger to ask where she wanted to leave the car and found the seat next to hers was empty. It was as if there had been no-one sitting there. This surprised Jean and she was wondering if she had been dreaming. She took a glimpse in the rear mirror and saw her passenger walking on a snowy path upwards over the tunnel towards a small church on a hill. She just did not remember stopping the car to let her out. She felt something was wrong somewhere: a young lady dressed for a wedding waiting at the entrance to a tunnel for a lift and she did not remember ever seeing a church over the tunnel before. As she drove further the snow started coming down again, but the road was no longer in such a bad driving condition. She was just glad to arrive safe and sound at home and to be with her family.
“Thank goodness you arrived safely” her mother was so relieved. “We were worried about you driving in such bad conditions. The news on the radio was very bad and we did not expect you for a long while after what happened in the tunnel.
“I don’t understand mum, the tunnel was ok and I saw no problems.”
“You probably drove through it before the avalanche came down in that case.”
“What avalanche?” she asked. “I picked up a girl waiting at the entrance to the tunnel who was going to a wedding to a church on the hill just over the tunnel and when I left the tunnel the sun was shining and everything was fine; just some snow at the side of the road.”
“You did what?” and now her grandfather mixed in the conversation. “Tell me about her. Was she dressed in white?”
“Yes granddad, do you know her?”.
“I don’t know her at all, only from the stories that have been told. She always appears when the weather is bad and takes her place in a car when invited, only to disappear again. The story goes that she was going to her wedding at the church on the other side of the tunnel. You see in the olden days most people got married at Christmas, as it was the only holidays the working population had. My own father and mother were both married on Christmas day. In that particular Winter it was so cold and snowing so hard that it caused a landslide just over the entrance to the tunnel, taking the church with it, where a wedding was taking place. There were no survivors. It seems that when she appears it is to save someone from the same fate; just an old legend that is often told. There are still some people that say the girl appears when the weather is looking dangerous. She is known as the girl in white and it seems she has saved many from the same fate.”
“Well I didn’t meet with any landslide granddad, and the weather was just fine when I left the tunnel. It only started getting worse on my way home.”
“It seems you were one of the lucky ones Jean” and her grandfather smiled.
Nothing more was said at home and Jean and her family celebrated a wonderful Christmas together. It just seemed strange to Jean when she read the reports about the landslide in the newspapers that the landslide happened at the time when she left the tunnel. Just another car driver that had some luck in the winter weather and was perhaps saved by the girl in white.
Writer's Block - Challenge #52: The Girl in White