Haley sat in the dark listening to the howling of the wind just beyond the glass. Mesmerized, she follows the flick and dance of the flame along the wick of a lone candle in the nearly empty room.

A sharp crack followed by crystalline crunching sounds suggested that yet another tree branch had fallen from the heavens.

She was nothing more than a darkened silhouette outside the circle of soft golden illumination, frozen in place, deaf to the shattered silence. Haley leaned in, over her crossed ankles, to stare into the bright yellow-red center of light. This close to the candle you could see it; the pain and worry in her eyes, the tension taunt across her hunched shoulders, and even the tiny tremors that rattled her frame.

Finally, she looked away, from the twisted spark, towards the door and the soft ticklish sound of heavy snowfall. Haley’s arms wrapped tight around herself, chafing what little warmth she had into them, as the loneliness and fear set in.

For as the candle light shrank and the dark deepened all she could do was wonder … and wait.