No Return by Rosie Cullen


  Clouds rolled down from the peaks tumbling over each other in murderous fury, slate grey and black.  Eve watched their approach.  Within moments the higher ground had disappeared behind the boiling mass.  The sound of a window banging upstairs broke her trance and she slammed the letter down on the kitchen table.

  Eve lingered at the open window, buffeted by the strange summer wind which tasted of death.  Across the road she could see Albert placing a bar across the wooden doors of his workshop.  His string of stunted apple trees stretching down the hill were whisked in tight circles, desperately clutching on to precious fruit.  A flash forked overhead illuminating their small hamlet nestled amongst the peaks. 

  Rain arrived in a torrent of steel rods as Eve yanked at the window and struggled to latch it into place, her hair flattened and wet in a trice.  Through the misting glass she watched the water ricochet off the tarmac of the road beneath.  A lone pickup truck lit its way slowly up the incline, Larry safely home for lunch; woe betide that he should ever miss that.  An almighty boom of thunder greeted him.  Biblical seemed an apt description for the storm which rumbled over the jagged hills and moors.  Terrifying and electric all at once.

  Eve returned to the darkened kitchen, allowing the warring elements to consume her mind.  She felt at any moment that all that was outside could rip through the thick stone walls of the little cottage and toss her high up into the thunder wracked skies.  Her fingers groped for the letter again and clutched it tightly as though to remind herself of its reality. She did not need to reread the words which sprang up in fierce jabs. 

  I will not be coming home on Saturday … This has been a painful decision … we must talk but not yet … I need time … I will not ... I will not ...

  Eve opened the front door, her freshly potted topiary lay splayed on either side, plastic tubs contemptuously overthrown by the swirling wind.  She stepped outside.   The rain slashed her upturned face.  Let the storm do its worst. She was like a flagellant, feeling each livid scar as a blessing.

  Exposed on the hillside Eve goaded the elements.  Thunder on thunder roared in response, vibrating through ancient rock into taut and twanging sinews.  She laughed, sounding hysterical even to herself, and tore the letter into ever smaller pieces. A fury of confetti.