Wednesday 29th February 2012
Arriving at the cottage; the burning fires within
DEEP into the night sped Ursula’s cage. Most of the time I dozed on the rear seat, Arthur having chosen to sit in the front, where he appeared to be sending frequent messages by mobile phone.
After several hours we left the main highway and proceeded down many narrow, unlit lanes before halting at a row of small dwellings set among trees.
“Jenny’s at the hospice, just up the road. She sleeps in Emily’s room. Tom will be in, but he may not say much.”
“Is he angry?”
“Yes. Lashes out at everybody. Needs to find somebody to blame. The beach helps. He’s thrown some hefty rocks into the sea.”
A short path led us to the door, on which Arthur knocked lightly before opening.
“Tom! You there?”
We entered. A familiar voice grunted a reply and we passed through another door into a room warmed by the aromas of wood-smoke and old furniture. Tom was kneeling in front of the glowing fire, toasting-fork in hand, poking a crumpet towards the embers.
I had wanted my greeting to sound cheerful and friendly. It came out as a croak. He looked up, removed the fork from the flames, placed the crumpet on a plate and stood up.
“They let you out then.”
“No, I flew away. A kind woman let me use her telephone. I hid until Arthur came. He told me about Emily. We travelled here swiftly with the help of Ursula.”
He was the same as when I had first known him: shy, troubled, full of doubt. I wished for a hug, but needed to wait for him to allow it.
“Told you our Em would end up in the graveyard, didn’t I? Only a few more days now, they reckon. Poor kid. Sore full. Worse than I ever thought it would be. And weird, cos we’re rich now. Can’t get me head round it. Do us a favour, when it’s all over, Ulla, would you?”
“Yes, Tom. What do you want?”
“Teach me how to fly. Would you? Eh? Give me lessons. So’s I can get away from it all. Pay you for it, I will. Pay you loads. Do it for me, won’t you? Ulla? Teach me how to fly… please… would you?”