I could hear the wind in the trees, muffled slightly by the low clouds. It was just below freezing and not long before midnight. Our boots crunched on the old snow as we moved quickly into the ravine. It was an irrigation ditch, drained (mostly) for the winter. It was our as-the-crow-flies route. In order to get from A to B by more conventional means, we would have had to follow a winding rural road to an overpass across the interstate. This waterway was direct: under the four lanes.
I could see my breath in front of me, but I was well prepared for this mission. Perhaps I’d even layered too much.
It didn’t take us long to reach the tunnel. It was concrete and it was only about four and a half feet tall. Inside was a sheet of ice. We hadn’t really expected this, but both of us were wearing waterproof boots anyhow. I tested the ice and sure enough it cracked under my weight and I crouched in about four inches of water and some inch thick shards of ice. Slogging through the ice-choked water while crouched double made the journey an arduous one. Occasionally we’d stop and crouch instead of stooping. There were cobwebs on our hats and on the backs of our jackets.
It seemed like hours before I saw the pale night light shining from above and ahead. When I reached it I could stand. It was a drainage grate set between the directions of traffic. Half way there.
When we finally splashed out on the other side, we lay against the snowy bank and breathed and stretched. Then we continued onward, becoming quieter and moving furtively as we approached our target.
It was a slightly sprawled red farmhouse. Some lights were on and the windows shone brightly. We crept near to one and sure enough, there were her parents, watching TV.
Mission complete. Now we had to backtrack to my house and go back to bed.