They are more real than you, Jane, more real than you ever were. We stand them on the lip of the rise, fat and squat and white against the grey sky. We dig out the good snow, cut it out with knives and carry it on planks of wood, on what is left of our lifeboats. Think of me, Jane. I am holding one end of a wooden stretcher. There are words written on it; an incomplete sentence described in an arc. On the planks we are carrying a block of snow that will be her head. It's larger than you are thinking, and larger still. I'm sweating and I'm cold. The wind curls under my collar when I bend forward.
It's important that you know this: what our boots look like disappearing into the snow. We create caves with each step, and we cause avalanches when we lift our heels. I've lost my sense of scale, but it isn’t the first thing I've lost.
They are twice my height, easily. Fitzjames is holding her head in his lap. He draws his gloved hands over the flat planes of her face, shaping cheekbones and chin and a long, straight nose. The snow falls away delicately. I pass him the bladder I’ve been keeping in my coat. He sprinkles water over her features and after a few seconds they gain an icy sheen.
Are you waiting for me to say that she looks like you, Jane? She doesn't. She looks like whatever is hiding behind the wall of Fitzjames’ chest. She looks kind. He cradles her in the crook of his arm as he climbs the tall stepladder, and places her, gently, atop her own body.
It was not the first head we’d made for her. Do you know the feeling of something you thought to be solid, disintegrating in your hands? Each thing lost is an echo of another, heavier thing. Building, as we have been relentlessly building, is some kind of inoculation against that feeling.
I want you to picture these women. A row of them, ornamenting the hill and facing north. Below, a gently receding line that separates the planes of the hills, the charcoal grey of an artist's sketch. Look away, and they will still catch in the corner of your eye; a fence, an army, standing like cathedral spires.
When we have finished with them they curve in a wide semicircle around us, their backs to us. The wind breaks against them. Even standing tall, we are hidden behind their skirts.