Snow crunched beneath my feet as I walked towards the church. A string of icicles hung from the Lychgate.
A world in white, silent, the snow lay untouched by others. I looked back at my footprints, melting pools of snow lay behind me.
Unlit houses dark against the white, no sign of life. I felt alone, abandoned in a strange place. I have no memory of passing this way before.
The church door stood ajar, inside I felt warmer, welcomed. The early morning light threw a kaleidoscope of colour across the pews. The tiled floor danced, shimmered with light. With the door being open, I didn’t think anyone would mind if I wandered around.
Three steps beneath the church lay the most beautiful room, lit by the light coming from the tall arched windows. I counted twelve pillars, covered in carvings of cherubs, grapes and strange winged creatures I had no name for.
My mind told me I should be afraid, but I felt at home. As I moved through the space, touching each pillar as I passed, a feeling of having touched them before filled my thoughts. Memories that cannot be mine.
I was there with six others, bare feet and long white dresses. What we were doing there was not revealed to me. I did not run from this place, for we were happy. That much was clear from the smiles and the sound of laughter.
These strange blue pillars seemed to hold some kind of attraction that kept us playing here long after we should have been home asleep in our beds.
I couldn’t wait to get back to the B&B to ask about the church. Fresh snow had fallen, stealing my footprints. As I walked through the Lychgate, I felt a shiver grip my body. I heard a voice in my head and knew it belonged to my grandmother Sarah. “Don’t look back…”
I knew the tone, she meant for me to obey so I did as she bid. Reaching the B&B, I asked about the church.
“You’re frozen, come sit by the fire…” The landlady led me to an armchair, and I sat.
“You have been outside for hours…” She put a hot cup of tea in my hands and told me there was no church here. “It burnt down more than 100 years ago. We almost sent out a search party to look for you.”
I looked at the clock on the mantle, I had been gone for four hours. I remembered leaving at ten o clock that morning. I told her she must be wrong; I was inside the church.
She patted my hand like an aged aunt and told me again how it burned down, taking six young lives, young girls about to take their first communion.
I could not speak to her. Ignoring my grandmother’s warning, I went straight back to retrace my steps, but I could not find the church. I did find the remains of a graveyard and seven headstones. Tears froze on my face as I read each name. My own stood out like neon, Sarah Wilkes, aged ten…