My breath fogs the air as walk across the car park. I dare not look back. I take the car key from my pocket. A push of a button and hazard lights blink their location. I get in and start the engine, listening to it purr and tick as I apply buckle to clasp and turn the heating up. Sitting in the car, the world diluted by crystals, a cold distance to be savoured before the wounds open and the truth starts to flow.
It’s colder than I realised and without realising I’m rubbing my hands to warm them, enjoying the building friction of skin on skin, flashback to hands grabbing my arm. I close my eyes for a moment, when I open them the windscreen has cleared.
I sit for a few seconds, my mind is still racing through last night, I feel spaced out and emotional as I put the car in gear and start to drive. As I pull out of the car park it’s only my internal auto-pilot that turns me homewards.
The coast road is quiet, sunrise is only just creeping towards the horizon and I lose myself in the curves of the road, a billion tiny sparkles picked out by the morning frost, dazzling tarmac shouldered in rhinestone, headlights billboard roadsigns.
It’s mesmerising, then suddenly a red eyed cat flashes at me as the kerb leaps into the road, I swerve and catch the car before it can skid. My heart races and I grip the steering wheel, knuckles white as the hotel bed-sheet, suddenly focused and very alive.
The sunrise is in full flight now, a blushing pink sky reaches up to caress the last embers of the night. The road is dull by the time he reaches his home town, the frost has migrated from street to shrub.
He reaches his neighbourhood and as he turns a corner he feels the slide start, he tries to catch it but it doesn’t matter, the moment has passed. The steering wheel spins in his hands, brakes lock wheels and do nothing. He is lost to the momentum and seconds later a dull crunk as a wheel catches a drain then rocks the car against unforgiving concrete. Dammit.
Out of the car, breath rising as he looks down at the front wheel, askew, out of kilter, broken. He kicks it for good measure.
His home is only a few minutes away so he leaves everything behind and starts to walk. The sun dances low in the sky, hiding behind houses. The pavement is patched with line after criss-crossed line of spearing crystals, puddles on hold.
His hand moves to the gate, red wooden lines edged in silver ice. He pushes it open, walks up the path way, in through the front door and she’s there already. Sitting on the bottom step, red eyes lined with tears, she looks up as he enters.