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Snow Tracks

This is the first winter we have lived on the farm. It's been snowing heavily for hours and it's starting to get dark.

As the snow eases off I'm allowed to go outside and play. I put on two jackets, two scarves, my mum's wellies and for some reason, two baseball caps. I can't remember what my sister wears but she owns her own wellies.

I open the door. There are thirty miles of farmland, and then Glasgow, Which I have visited once.

There is no one else to walk in the snow and it lies undisturbed. We go out of the door and turn right along the driveway.

I look at the forest. The faraway Ochil Hills can be seen in a gap between the woods to the north and the lights of Falkirk that cover the floodplain seven miles to the east. Behind that are the refinery fires of Grangemouth and there is the North Sea.

There is a low droning cold sound coming from the motorway, and I tell my sister it is the Arctic wind.

We walk westwards to the snowbound road that cuts through the fields around our house. We cross the road, carved out of a hill, descending to Bonnybridge.

At the top of the hill, in the middle of a field, is a strange object that I will later find out is an air filter and the entrance to a nuclear bunker.

The field is lined by a barbed wire fence with a narrow bank on the near side that falls away steeply following the cut of the road.

We start to walk up the narrow bank, our right hands on the barbed wire fence. It is totally dark.

Further up the hill, the slope is lined with fir and pine trees to muffle the sound of the M80 flyover. We stop here and sit down in the snow. My sister is on my left.

Not owning sleds we slide down the hill on our arses. Overjoyed, we run to a shallower part of the hill, climb up and slide down again.

Staying in the same tracks, we do this over and over for what feels like a long time, until, exhausted, we stop.

Over the barbed wire fence, the snow that surrounds the nuclear bunker is completely untouched. We have never been in this field and we decide to cross the fence to see the strange object at the top of the hill.

I go through the fence first and hold the wires apart for my sister. Danielle is exactly 23 months younger than me.

As she moves between the wires, one of the barbs digs into her head.

She asks me if it's bleeding and although it's dark and I'm a little blinded by the snow, I'm sure she isn't bleeding and I tell her it's just the snow she can feel on her hair.

We are tired and we argue. We go back to the house. Her head wasn't bleeding.

The snow melts the day after next but there are still two smooth track marks in the grass where we slid down and one rough one where we climbed up.

The two tracks are still there in the spring and they're there the next winter and after the next spring.

Every day we walk past them to school and we're surprised they have stayed there so long.

In a few years, bramble bushes have grown over the hill but nothing grows in the two tracks, and they remain, receding slightly year after year.

Ten years later I come back from Glasgow to visit my parents, though they've faded, two lines can still be seen in the grass. The one on the right hand side still slightly wider.

It is now 18 years after those tracks were made and I don't know when but they have disappeared.

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