we do now?” The maids were saying.

   Lisa, who had been bright faced, burst into tears.
There was no holding them back.
The rest of the maids were also concerned, even those who disapproved of the Grand Duchess.

   Lisa found the Grand Duchess’ chambers empty, when she went to apologise for forgetting her birthday.  They searched all over the palace and she was no where to be found.
The Grand Duchess had ran away from home.

   “Think carefully, where could the Grand Duchess have gone?” Karen asked Lisa.

   “I-I don’t know.”

   “How can you, of all people, the one person that followed Her Highness every where she goes, not remember her very birthday?” Karen scolded.

   She was choked up and her anger soared, but Karen couldn’t have a go at Lisa too much, she had forgotten too.
It was easy to blame the young maid, she was the Grand Duchess’ personal maid.

   “For now, we will split up and search every where we can.
Group one will search beyond the palace wall, in the forest and group two will head to the city and …”

   “Head maid, head maid,” a young girl came rushing in, “its, its the Prince, he’s back and looking for Her Highness.”

   The situation Karen had feared the most was coming to pass.
She rushed the search parties on and, with Lisa, went to meet the Prince, being carried their on very shaky legs.

   The pair arrived outside the Princes chambers and Karen took a moment to catch her breath.
Lisa was still crying, but Karen didn’t have time to wait for her to compose herself.
She knocked on the door.

   “Come in,” came the Princes voice.

   Karen wiped her clammy hands dry several times before she was able to turn the door knob.
Bjorn was stood on the balcony, arms folded, looking down at the five snowmen Erna had made for him.

   “I’m sorry Your Highness, its all my fault,” said Karen, bowing deeply, “Her Highness disappeared, but don’t worry, every member of staff is out looking for her.”

   “My wife, disappeared?” Bjorn frowned at the two maids, “why?”




Erna looked at the door, as if willing it to not be true.
It was because her hands were numb with cold, she couldn’t operate the door handle properly, there was no way it could be locked, with her trapped on the roof.

   She grabbed the cold metal of the handle again, with a firm grip and nothing.
The door was as it was before, locked tight.
She could hear the padlock knock against the door as she jiggled the handle.

   “Hello,” she called out, “is anyone there? Please, open the door.” She banged on the door and shouted.
Could this day really get any worse? “Is anyone there? Please, open the door, I’m still out here.”

   Her voice echoed out into the darkness and her only reply was the silence of the cathedral.
Erna looked about her with a blank expression on her pale face.

   The night sky was covered in dark clouds, blotting out the stars and moon.
The dome was completely deserted.
Laughter came to Erna then, she felt like crying, but she laughed instead.
She had wished for a birthday to remember and it came true, though not in the way she expected.

   “I should have gone down earlier.” She looked up at the sky in dismay, always she thought of staying just a little longer and now it was too late.

   Giving up on the door, Erna headed over to the railings and looked down on the city.
The height made her dizzy.

   “There are still people up here, please, can someone open the door?” She shouted down to the streets, hoping that someone passing by might hear her.

   She gave up after awhile and slumped down on the ground.
The dirt and grime left be a hundred footprints stained her dress, but she didn’t care any more.
She had no energy left.

   She looked up at the sky, as she wept for her fate and through her blurred vision, white points danced in the sky toward her.
It wasn’t until one landed on her cheek that she realised it was snowing.
Just her luck.

   “Its fine, I didn’t want to see you at all anyway.” Erna said aloud, thinking that she was going to be stuck there until the morning.
If she survived till morning.
The sudden thought made her stomach give way.

   Erna looked around with the eyes of a lost child and raised her soiled hands to her face.
Her sobs were muffled by the snow drift.

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