By Annabell Mailath
A clean slate indeed. As the helicopter lowered, Janna and Hiroshi stared down with wide eyes at the pure white ground, full of disappointment. Not an obvious clue to be seen in any direction. Janna’s heart sank at the thought that solving her Gammy’s murder would remain dependent on the only suspect in custody.
Despite the fact that Mother Nature had tried to cover up and start anew, Janna remained relentless, determined to find something to prove once and for all that Rory was a no good, conniving, killer. Anything — a footprint; lone potato; a lost mitten — that might give an indication that Rory had dumped Chuck on the mountain after brutally killing him. The two of them walked endless circles around the large area for what seemed like hours. Hiroshi secretly hoped Janna would just get tired and give up; all he could picture was Chuck’s pale body lying in a pool of frozen blood on the glistening snow. Only the purple potatoes maintained their natural colours. The image made his stomach turn.
As the hours slipped by Janna became desperate at the thought that there really wasn’t anything to find that might help them determine who had been there that fateful day. The tears built up in her eyes again and she did everything she could to try and stop them, but it was no use. She put her by now snow- and tear-soaked gloves to her face and let herself sob as she had already done so many times that day. Time seemed to slow down and let her have her moment. Her chest felt heavy and she removed her hands to take a deep breath. She let her body lean to the left, against the nearest tree, for support. As if Mother Nature took some pity on the poor girl, and before Janna had a chance to inhale, something floated down gently in front of her and onto the crisp snow. A single little turquoise feather. Her hands now rested on her chest as she placed the little feather in her mind.
Janna’s brain started racing. It flashed back to the past summer — Sunday afternoon strolling down by the Chateau, stopping at every little tent within the farmers market to smell the fresh fruit and take a closer look at the intricate necklaces and hats. She had always admired the craftsmanship of the woven clothing and enjoyed the warm smell of the sweet popcorn wafting through the air. At that moment her memory focused in on one particular time when she was with Mumu. They had come across a stand that was draped with brightly covered scarves. The elderly artisan was very proud of her handiwork and explained how she had made them from coloured quail feathers. Janna was weirded out by the thought of having bird feather touching her face, but Mumu, accustomed to wearing dead animals as hats, jumped at the chance to have one of these decorative accessories.