My breath fogs the air as I walk across the car park. I dare not look back, I must leave this behind. I take the car key from my pocket, a push of a button, 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, the cold distance is to be savoured before the wounds open and the truth starts to flow. Life starts its ebb.
It’s colder than I realised and without noticing I find I’m rubbing my hands together to warm them, enjoying the building friction of skin on skin. Flashback to hands grabbing my arms, pulling me closer, skin on skin. I close my eyes for a moment and when I open them the windscreen has cleared.
I sit for a few seconds longer, my mind still racing through last night. I feel spaced out and emotional. 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 the road signs. Mesmerising.
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, I grip the steering wheel, knuckles as white as the hotel bed-sheet. I am 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 I reach my home town, the frost migrating from street to shrub.
As I reach my neighbourhood I turn the car into our street, the slide starts. I try to catch it but it’s too late, that moment has passed. The steering wheel spins in my hands, the brakes lock the wheels and nothing. I am lost to the momentum and seconds later a dull crunk echoes out as a wheel catches a drain then rocks the car against unforgiving concrete.
Out of the car, breath rising as I look down at the front wheel, askew, out of kilter, broken. I give it a kick for good measure.
My home is only a few minutes away so, leaving everything behind I start 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.
My hand moves to the gate, red wooden lines edged in silver ice. Pushing it open, I walk up the path, up to the front door and she’s there already. Sitting on the bottom step, red eyes lined with tears, face set. She watches me as I approach.
“Everything is broken now”, she says.