Striding out with the dog by her side in the late afternoon was where Clare wanted to be. She and Mike had always loved this part of the country. In the summer he’d lounge in a soft backed chair, a rug over his knees with a sketch-pad or a book while she wandered off for a couple of hours or, in the winter they’d sit in the car watching the landscape and feeling part of nature.
The river had brought them together. They’d met, worked and fallen in love in a hotel which stood on the cliffs. It had been pulled down years ago. They’d explored the coastal paths and meandered along the towpaths and boatyards. The cockle boats were still out at sea, the flames from the refineries still burned yellowish-blue and the old castle ruins still guarded the entrance to the estuary. They’d married in a local church under Norman vaults thirty-eight years before and then moved away and worked abroad. When they retired they’d come back to live nearby. It was when Mike said:
“Why don’t you write about it?” But what was there to write about? Clare wasn’t a writer or a poet. It was true there was something fascinating about the mud giving up its secrets, the slowly melting glaciers revealing sights of climbers, aircraft crashes or bodies caught up in fishermen’s nets. Even local archeological digs had brought forth unexpected treasures.
She was grateful their life had been interesting, glad for their extended families, friends and travel, flitting like dragon flies over water lilies, an unconventional life. They rarely had a falling-out but when Mike asked her last year to make a promise, she’d hesitated. It had to do with their being together and, this, their favourite spot.
When Clare had walked out a fair distance, the dog trotting by her side, she paused by the water’s edge, took the lid off a small vase and emptied its contents. Some of the fine powder lifted on the end of afternoon breeze.
Mike only existed on paper now, a line in a Parish Register and a Census form. The idea that part of him would attach itself to the stanchion of a pier, be carried out of the estuary to float back on the tide, ease itself down in the mud beside a Roman coin or fly off on a gull’s wing would have intrigued and amused him, nature recycled that’s the way they looked at it.
Her life wouldn’t be the same again. Self pity was weak and indulgent. Mike had known she would get on with life and turn another page. She was active with part-time and voluntary jobs, there were books to read, new people to meet, the Church, places to travel, new hobbies to take up and perhaps a writing group to join. And the landscape where she felt closest to him.
About the Author
Heather left school at 16, trained as a shorthand typist, became an Air Hostess, worked as a secretary in Paris for 16 years and was a mature student at university. Her poems have been published in the Imperial War Museum in London, small presses, two short stories broadcast by BBC Radio, fiction and articles published in newspapers and magazines.