I was painting the spare bedroom, glad to be nearing the end of a tedious and time-consuming renovation. It gave me some satisfaction to see the pristine white paint flowing from roller to wall. This room has the best view of any in the house, and I paused from time to time to look out at the mountain. It had snowed earlier in the day, and the slopes were lightly frosted with white.
Half past three. My partner would be home soon, and ideally I wanted to finish painting by then. I rolled a bit quicker. Reaching the final wall, I caught sight of snowflakes drifting downwards. Lovely! I turned my attention back to my painting, but a few minutes later I couldn’t help noticing the flakes had become fat and floaty, the size of autumn leaves. They were by this time settling quite thickly on the gardens outside. I picked up my mobile phone and dialled my partner’s number, wondering if it was snowing in Newport. The call went straight to voicemail. Ah, he must be on the road already, I thought.
I painted on. The snow was by this time falling hard and fast, piling up on the windowsill. The mountain was by this time lost in low, misty cloud, and the houses and gardens were covered in a snowy white blanket. So pretty! Between the snow and the white paint I was starting to feel the effects of snow blindness, dazzled by the white all round. I tried ringing the man again, but once more I was diverted to voicemail. I left a message hoping he was OK driving in the snow.
I took a break from painting and went to check how the road outside was faring. It was still passable, but the snow was building up steadily. I heard the phone ringing and ran to answer it. My partner’s father was wondering whether he was home yet. He said he’d been trying to ring him also. I said I’d let him know as soon as I heard anything.
By this time he was half an hour late. I sent a text expressing concern. I pressed on and finished painting the last section of wall, then tidied away my painting things. I tried to ring again. I sent another text. I switched on the radio to a local station: severe weather warnings. Tell me something I didn’t know. It was most likely he was stuck in traffic, but why wasn’t he answering his phone? Why hadn’t he rung to let me know where he was? What if he’d had an accident? I began to formulate a plan as I made a start on dinner preparations. How long would I wait before ringing the police to enquire about any accidents that may have occurred between here and Newport? How could I get to the hospital if he had been involved in an accident?
Then, finally, the sound of a key in the door and boots being thumped on the doorstep to knock off the snow. I flew to the door.
‘Am I glad to see you! Where’s the car? Have you had an accident? Why didn’t you answer your phone?’ I babbled, flinging my arms around him.
‘Whoa, there,’ he replied, his cheek cold and wet against mine. ‘I’m fine, the car’s fine. But I had to leave it at the bottom of the hill, I kept slipping back each time I tried to drive uphill. The traffic was gridlocked trying to get out of Newport, and the bypass was very slow also. Were you trying to ring me? I didn’t get your call. I tried to ring you but I couldn’t get a signal. Maybe the network’s down due to the weather or heavy demand or something. Whatever. I need a hot shower to warm me up. Dinner smells good.’
While he showered I rang his father to reassure him. As we talked I could hear my partner’s mobile phone bleeping to announce the arrival of text messages and missed calls. It seemed the network was back in action. Modern technology is a great thing, but only when it works.
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015