eslie lay in bed, watching the lazy snow fall against the backdrop of the city. In the next room the BBC news droned on. She thought to herself, "TV in England sucks. No Nick at Night, no Gargoyles, no MTV."

From the hallway outside her door she heard Shirley whisper: "Is she asleep?"

Her father replied "I don't know, I was just going to check."

As the door squeaked open, Leslie slammed her eyes shut, feigning sleep.

"She's out."

"Is she holding up all right?"

"I don't know, to be honest."

"How are you holding up?"

"Don't quite know that either, I'm afraid."

"Listen, I'm sorry about the other day..."

"Oh, that's all right. We had it coming. You were right-we could have fallen through the ceiling. Besides, we both had a good laugh over it."

"I noticed. Any word?"

"Just what we've seen on the BBC. The weather is the worst its been in ten years (which is saying something), the country is full of snipers and land-mines, basically no one is safe."

"Are you worried?"

"Very. Normally she's very good about contacting us, but I haven't heard from her in days. I just get a very bad feeling about this."

"Normally, I tell people to trust their intuitions..."

"Once, when I was a kid, we built a treehouse in the back yard, pretty high up and we had a vine that stretched from another tree to our treehouse. We'd use the vine to swing from the treehouse down to the ground. We'd do this for hours, a whole group of us. Swing down, climb up, swing down, climb up. So one day, we're all playing on the vine and it's my turn and I suddenly get this feeling, in the pit of my stomach, that something terrible is going to happen. So I pass on my turn. The next kid up? The vine broke, he fell five or six feet and broke his leg. I've learned to trust my intuitions."

Leslie lay awake for a long , watching the snow and thinking about her mother. She didn't pray, or she would have asked God to bring her mother home for Christmas.

1995 Hyperbole Studios Inc.