I paused for a moment, looking around the main room before I nodded, slowly, with regret as I shut the door, thinking of her.
I could still see her in my mind, laughing at a witticism, groaning at a weak pun, but mostly smiling, wide and open, that guileless smile that had first captured my attention what seemed so long ago now.
We’d been so happy when we first came here.
I shook my head slowly, trying to pinpoint the precise moment when it had all gone wrong, but that was impossible, of course. So many individual points of time, not even really slices of shared experience. Just a series of snapshots – was that really what our relationship could be summed up as?
I shook my head again. Yes, it truly was.
I breathed in the fresh, scent-laden air, also delighting in the hundreds of shades of green assaulting my eyes. I loved this part of the county – far enough away from the city, from the hustle and bustle, from other people. A place where we could be together, alone.
She’d never liked it though. Oh, she’d been polite enough, but I’d always known that she preferred the noise of the city, the pressure of modern living. I knew what she’d say if I could ask her now – she was alive in the city in a way that she wasn’t here.
I walked to the car, stepping over the half-buried tree trunk, covered with the pits and scars of a score or more of winters; certainly it had been here when I first picked out the place.
I’d miss her. And I’d mourn her. Every time I came back here, I’d remember her. Every time I walked out back, through the pretty kitchen that had so delighted her with its unexpectedness, into the large fields, I’d think of her.
Her and the others, each buried beneath the soft loam, with their dozens of neighbours, each of them having given me a few hours of mild pleasure before the terror set in, and more hours of utter delight thereafter.
I slipped into the car, nodded in the vague direction of the hut, then put the vehicle in gear and headed back to the city… until the next weekend.