Drifting away into a mishmash of dreams: meadows and orchards abandoned farmhouses chickens feeding on sawdust and maize by wired fencing an August heatwave petrol cans and parched grass an old wooden barn in the centre of a field.
Then he is fifteen again standing on top of the mound by the railway line during another heatwave watching as one of the local boys stumbles, falling to the bottom of the slope into the path of a speeding train.
At around this time I learnt Beethoven’s piano sonata, The Pathetique.
The dramatic opening reminded me of the opening in my novel Secrets. The protagonist making his way up Whaley Hill in Lancashire in the November chill and fog in search of the man he’d helped put behind bars sixteen years earlier. The angry, almost violent, chords that answer the pathos of the melody in the Pathetique. The build up of rain, the promise of a storm on Whaley Hill. The continuing intensity of emotion in the Pathetique as lyrical despair alternates with irate harmonies and powerful pauses.
A mist has settled. Going back for a torch, I take the pathway up the hill, like we did that other day, although it was hot and sunny then. Acrid, almost I pass the row of trees where we hid that other time. The tyre swing has gone now. The gust gets stronger, sweeping through the trees and shaking the bushes ahead. When I reach the bench near the reservoir, I shine the torch around. A carpet of soaked leaves. Dead twigs. Beyond lies the water, eerily still under the glow of the torch.
He sits on a bench close to a line of cottages halfway up the winding hill staring out to sea waves churning as the sun sets splashing against rocks soaking the sand a lull that reminds him of nursery rhymes and happier times
tomorrow’s a new day, he thinks and wipes away a tear
The hiker crosses a field treading along the grass grass as parched as hay sunlight pouring down his face stinging his eyes
Could life have been perfect just six weeks ago? hope blossoming along with the spring? evenings full of promise as they’d sat at the picnic table in their garden eating Mediterranean salad and drinking wine?
The hiker reaches the foot of a stile and nearly stumbles the afternoon sun scorching and unforgiving accusing him – along with his silent self
a single decker bus back to the bay, along the coastal route, past tea places and an empty fair marquee, country lanes flanked by ancient gnarled tree trunks, sun-parched fields, lone cottages standing back from a road,
signposts for a farm appear, cows in a field, gaze ahead with fixed expressions. a tall fence, an orchard,
approaching the coast, a line of cliffs stretching east, giftshops selling postcard racks, Buckets and Spades, holidaymakers ambling towards the seawall by the promenade,
children eating ice cream, boat huts on the shore,
the sea slips into the horizon, out of sight, the sun sets, night.