Continued from Part I.
“What do you mean?” asked Stan. “You were out here looking for her?”
His companion nodded. “She was out skiing when the avalanche started. I haven’t seen her since this morning.”
Stan found himself lost for words. They continued on, rescued leaning heavily on rescuer. They stumbled and shuffled, metre by painful metre, inching through the snow towards town.
“My name is François,” said the man finally. “I am sorry for hesitating.”
“I don’t understand,” said Stan.
“When you shouted, I heard the first time, and I realised I had to make a terrible choice.”
Stan brought their advance to a halt, bringing his weight off François’s shoulder and leaning against a nearby tree.
“So you realised I wasn’t your girlfriend,” said Stan, “and if you came to my aid then you would not be able to search further.”
“Thank you for deciding to help me,” said Stan. “If you left me here I would probably not make it.”
“Quite,” said François. “It’s getting dark and you would freeze as the temperature drops. I couldn’t leave you, I realised that. But now I may never see Matilda again.”
Stan pushed himself upright and took François’s shoulder once more. “Let’s get to the town,” he said. “As quickly as we can. Let’s find people to help look.”
They continued to trudge, but now faster. Stan plunged every foot into the snow with a purpose he had not felt for many years. He felt as if he had been given a second chance, and he feared the price was more than he wanted paid.
To be continued…