Hail rattled the wood like buckshot. ‘Thank God!’ He snapped on the latch and slumped back against the door, wiping the mist from his glasses with a sleeve. The blood roared in his ears, the lobes beginning to tingle. The walls of the cottage were three-feet thick, it was like stepping into a vacuum. She understood him. She waited for him to kick the snow from his boots before handing him his tea. Steam curled in an ‘S’ toward the rafters. He gripped the enamel mug, wrapping his numb fingers tight about it, not caring that it might scald him.
July was the last time they’d visited and they’d sat among the gorse, high above the cottage, and stared at a sky as black as felt, dotted with shimmering stars. He’d closed his eyes and sucked the salty tang of the Atlantic deep into his lungs and said he never wanted to leave. She’d gripped his hand, stroking his palm with a fingertip. “I know,” she’d said.
He kicked off his boots and set the logs down by the hearth. She cracked two eggs into the pan, preparing their final breakfast. The eggs hissed and spat in the boiling oil. He crept up to her, clasping his arms round her waist and nestling his face in the tickly mohair of her shawl. She slid the fish slice beneath the egg-white and set them down on chunks of buttered soda bread.
“I don’t want to go back,” he said.
She smiled and said, “You never do.”
“I mean it this time.”
She stroked his hand.
“Feels like our Last Supper…. “ he said, already dreading the separation.
She held his face and kissed him. He nodded, forcing a smile. Soon they’d lock the door behind them, taking different cars, different ferries.