Derry Cottage

Derry Cottage was old. It had a thatched roof and its walls were painted a crumbling white, lumpy and made of stone like Devonshire clotted cream. It had small windows and sat looking something like a loaf of white bread, round and crusty and floured and sitting flat on the estuary bank. It looked older than the sea, older even than the earth it had been built on.
Indeed, it was the oldest house in the village, at least as far as could be seen from where Mary stood on the path that ran along the side of the estuary, which was separated from the water by a thin iron fence and clusters of wild grasses.
No use if the tide rises, she thought, not feeling safe so close to water, no protection at all and she felt that the tide might rise up and sweep them off the path and out to sea at any moment. This cottage was too close to nature, too close to the wild, untamed, unsafe. Mike must have read the expression on her face because he squeezed her hand and smiled at her.
‘Come on,’ he said, and she felt the thick wiry hairs on the backs of his fingers. They felt like spider’s legs. ‘It’ll be fine once we’re inside.’
He was right of course, everything would be alright. Right now the tide was out and only a thin stream of water ran through the middle of the muddy estuary bottom, seagulls circled in the air, squawked like pirate’s and swooped at the estuary floor, which smelt green like seaweed, wet like the air.
‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ Mike said, touching her bare shoulder. He looked pleased like a new father, and Mary felt the warmth of his heart when he stood close to her, blood beating like a parade drum. She folded her arms around herself, protection against the cold.
‘Yes it is.’ She said, the wind whipping her yellowish hair into her eyes. ‘Yes I suppose it is beautiful.’
Mike clapped his hands together, rubbing his palms against each other. ‘Come on, mind your head.’ he said, having to duck his own head beneath the low wooden door frame and through the thick wall of the cottage, almost a metre deep and as cold as the inside walls of a fridge beneath the sensitive fingers of her office workers’ hands.
‘Mike, wait for me’ Mary said, having to bend her head too and looking upwards at the same time because cobwebs hung from the ceiling.
They looked like an old couple, Mary and Mike. Cold white light leaked in through the small windows and caused deep shadows in the flaws on their faces and they stooped and Mary had a face full of complaining, as if the cottage had cast its magic on them, making them as old as it was, nearly four hundred years old.
‘When did someone last stay here? It’s so cold in here, it’s so damp in here. What’s that smell?’ she screwed her nose so it looked like a pig’s snout, causing an ugly feature which Mike didn’t like.
‘Don’t pull faces like that. If the wind changes it’ll stay like that and you won’t be pretty any more.’ He joked, ignoring her question.
The walls smelt, that cold smell like the smell of a cellar, wet stone, wood, carpet that’s gone rotten at the edges, once beige but now dark brown to black.
‘It’ll be fine when we’ve lit the fire. Come on.’ He said excitedly and pulled her hand to follow him up the stairs where the sitting room was. An empty lonely room made to look a little more modern than it ever could really be. It didn’t look right with its big TV and cream sofa and arm chairs that could have been bought in IKEA they were so modern, but not new, they were too young for this house. The fireplace had a vase and a coloured light, which was nice.
‘It looked different in the pictures.’ Mary said, ‘it didn’t look like this at all’ and she took the brochure form her handbag, glad that she’d had the good sense to put it there because she’d been able to use the map on the back to direct Mike through the narrow streets that led down to the water’s edge, roads so steep and crooked she wondered if they could ever back the car out, that they’d have to reverse up the hill, that it was probably the wrong way because the map wasn’t accurate, wasn’t to scale at all.
‘It looks smaller, that’s all. It’s this ceiling, it’s so low. Do watch your head in here,’ Mike said, making Mary worry if he’d keep saying that, it made no sense at all because he was taller, more likely to bang his head.
’Give me that, would you,’ he took the brochure from her and began flicking through the pages.
Mary went up another set of stairs to a kitchen. It was better in here, the ceiling higher and the windows bigger, wider, the window ledges were like seats they were so deep. Mary could imagine herself sitting there and reading her book or sitting outside on the terrace, which was made of old damp wood, stained dark mossy brown. But it was too cold to sit outside and the sky brooded like a blood stain spreading beneath white bandage.
Mary shivered. It was so cold her bones ached. She felt so tired still. From downstairs in the sitting room came Mike’s voice, so full of energy it sounded warm, although not warming.
‘Says here it was build in 1698.’ He said, as if reading the punch line of a joke from a Christmas Cracker. ‘ Imagine that!’
‘Where’s the heating? We should get the heating on, do you think the boiler’s under the stairs?’
‘What boiler?’
‘The heating, the thermostat, I don’t know. Don’ tell me there’s no heating!’ and she felt annoyed with him, she’d slowly lost her patience as the day had worn on, service stations, motorways and traffic lights, overpriced coffee, bloody bitten fingernails. Listen to me, won’t you, Mike? Just listen when I speak.
‘Give me that.’ she went quickly down the steps to the sitting room and tried to take the brochure from him. He wouldn’t let her, pulling it away like a little boy who doesn’t want to lose his toy. Mine, his tightly closed grip said, it’s mine, not yours.
‘It’s here, in the utility room, which is by the door.’ He read, jabbing at the brochure with his finger, ‘it’s down here by the front door. I’ll go and switch it on.’ He said, ‘You go and get the kettle on. We need to warm up.’ and he went down the stairs to the door they had come in by.
Mary did as she was told, plodded back up the three steps to the kitchen, heavy footed like a teenager and suddenly the sun came out, a burst of yellow , like butter, warm on her skin and it made the mud in the estuary sparkle, the green leafy bank on the other side glow like a sucked fruit pastel. It warmed the wood in the window frames and it smelt like cedar, like pot puree, like a visit to The Body Shop and suddenly, despite the dark patches in the blanket of white cloud, she could see suddenly it was all so beautiful.
At five o’clock, when the sun rose, Mary got up. She hadn’t planned to get up so early, but couldn’t sleep. In fact, she could never sleep when she’d drunk the night before, although not got drunk, she never got drunk, not anymore. She would wake as early as two sometimes and struggle to drift off again. Instead lying in bed like a horizontal sentry, guarding the hours, waiting for dawn.
She walked downstairs to the kitchen. The windowless staircase, as black as the dirt beneath fingernails, so black she clutched the wall for support. It felt cold and strong, guiding her to the carpeted living room floor like she was a blind, mad woman coming down from the attic, dishevelled hair and bleary black rings around her eyes. Each step creaked beneath her bare feet, but it didn’t matter. She wasn’t worried about waking Mike, nothing woke Mike. He slept so heavily she sometimes thought he might be dead, his breathing so shallow it was impossible to hear.
Golden light had crept silently into the living room in the early morning. It lay in square pools on the carpeted floor. Silent, absolutely silently and through the kitchen window too, it fell into the kitchen in a great pool that she could have dived into.
Outside the muddy banks sparkled, reflecting the sunrise, which glowed an angry red, the same colour as the inside of her head – too bright and a burning blood red when she shut her eyes. It made her head hurt.
In the pub last night she was surprised how busy it had been, that there were so many people living in this village and that some of them were so young. What do they do here? She had thought, sitting at a table opposite Mike and they weren’t talking, although he kept trying, talking about cliffs and gulls and secret hidden beaches. There are no jobs in this village, surely there were no jobs here, she had been saying, but still people sat and drank and it wasn’t even cheap here, this pub, as expensive as London and she thought they must be on benefits, these people, but she kept that form Mike, he wouldn’t have agreed, he wouldn’t think like that.
People were laughing, talking, sharing their perfume, their masked scents, the grease from their fingers on the polished surface of the bar. Mike said he hoped the weather wouldn’t change, it had been glorious for at least two weeks so it might change, it’s changeable at this time of the year. He asked the barmaid, but she knew less than he did of course and no music played, just the sound of voices, a clatter of sound, happy like a playground and the ruddy cheeked locals smiled as they ordered form the barmaid. She was a clucking girl with hair the colour of caramel, but it hung limply about her shoulders, greasy and ragged like a floor cloth. She had neatly clipped nails though and smooth white skin on the palms of her hands.
‘Mike, we have to get up to the top of the hill tomorrow. I need to get reception on my phone. At least then I can give my number to the office and they can get hold of me on the – shit, that phone in the cottage does work, doesn’t it?’
‘Oh come on, Mary, just relax.’ He looked disappointed, he wanted her to enjoy it here as much as he did, he had said as much before they had set off. But the look on his face, almost comical with his sad drooping eyebrows and she thought for a second that he looked like a little boy, the same little boy from earlier who wouldn’t let her look at the brochure, a boy who’s just been told he can’t go to the beach, can’t have an ice-cream.
Mary suppressed a smile, that would be too mean. Mike swallowed and afterwards couldn’t help his mouth from staying open. After a minute he said ‘Try and enjoy it here. You’re on holiday.’ And then, like he was reciting a list from a pamphlet on how to enjoy yourself, told her to put her phone away, or at least turn it to silent and just forget about work for a week. Then he finished by saying ‘It’ll do you good. I promise you, it’ll do you the world of good.’
He smiled and gulped greedily from his glass as if the effort of speech had rendered him as thirsty as a man stranded for fifty days at sea. He wiped the beer from his wet lips, ‘you’ll love it here when you look around, just wait, just wait until we go up onto the cliffs tomorrow, just wait until you see the sea and the colour, My God, Mary, you’re really not going to believe – you won’t believe the colour here.’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ she said, stuffing her phone deep into her bag, right to the bottom so it was out of reach because she felt mean, mean at being so negative at everything when he was being so positive. She felt that she needed to make an effort, at least for him, ‘look,’ she said, diplomatic like a mother, ‘let’s go to the top of the hill tomorrow in the morning. In fact, I can go on my own first thing, that way you can have a lie-in. I’ll go on my own and I can get some signal on my phone and I can touch base with the office. They’ll be happy then, especially if I do it first thing, and I can put them off until the end of the week, tell them I’ll get things sorted next week. Let’s have another drink.’
She finished the last of her wine glass in one mouthful, which must have surprised Mike because he gave a noiseless laugh and adjusted himself in his chair, downed his pint and called to the barmaid.
This bath is someone else’s bath, she thought, feeling exhilarated after walking to the top of the hill and she had needed to walk almost all the way to the main road before she had enough signal to make the call to the office.
She could see the sea from the top of the hill. Mike was right, it was beautiful and she felt guilty at having seen it before he had shown it to her. So later, she decided, she would pretend she hadn’t seen it yet.
‘Oh my word,’ she would gush, ‘wow that really is… that really is incredible.’
She felt wicked at the thought and laughed, although too out of breath to make a sound and when her thoughts turned to the call she had to make, the call to the office, she became more serious. She rehearsed what she would say in her head, repeating phrases, thinking what she should say first and at the same time looking at the signal bars on her phone, waiting for them to fill to the top of the screen.
‘Hi, this is Mary.’ She had said briskly into the phone mouthpiece, standing on top of the hill and sheltering the mouthpiece with a cupped hand so that Alison wouldn’t hear that she was outside. She crouched next to a thick hedge, she was glad it had been Alison who had answered. The hedge must have been five metres tall.
‘Listen, is that Alison? Hi Alison, yeah fine, fine, I’m fine. Listen, I’m in Devon but something’s come up. I need to sort some personal stuff out, and the stupid thing is there’s absolutely no bloody signal here. I know, I know, bloody typical. I’m going to have to catch up next week when I’m back. Tell Tim, would you? No, honestly, he won’t mind. Don’t worry I’ll speak to him next week. Anything urgent then email. I’ll be back on Saturday and I’ll catch up then.’
She had rushed a little in the middle, but it had ended well and she was glad it had been Alison that had answered the phone. She would tell Tim, she would get her message right, and Tim would understand, especially if it was personal stuff, she had heard him use the phrase before, it was the sort of thing he said, the sort of thing he understood, personal stuff.
This bath needs to be cleaned, she thought. Although it looks clean, how can you tell if it’s been cleaned with a clean cloth and not the same cloth that they used for the toilet or the spilt water on the floor?
I don’t think I even need a shower, she decided, the exhilaration of coming down the hill, powered by the pull of gravity, arms working like pistons, feet slapping the road like flat tyres, it had completely woken her, and this little village, it was surreal, men in tweed suits, old but dashing, and they’ve dressed that way all their lives. It could almost be the 1940s, wartime. There was even a tiny baker’s with white wooden windows, but she could see nothing behind the tiny wooden frames, no bread, no buns, no famous Devonshire scones.
On a corner she saw a red phone box. People still used public phones here, so charming, so 1945 and suddenly a burst of sunshine led her down the hill and she was warm, this place was warm, hot sun burning through damp cloud.
She splashed water from the tap in the basin onto her face and neck, hoping that would do instead of a shower, but it wasn’t enough, she needed to wash properly. But the bathtub was filthy, cleaned with a rotten cloth and there was nowhere to hang her towel. The shower curtain was stained and the bath mat matted and old and damp still. But she had no choice so she put her towel on top of Mike’s, which was slung over the edge of the basin, and got in.
‘Everything alright?’ Mike asked, either reading her mind or the expression on her face. He had a teapot in one hand and a teacloth across his shoulder and his free hand was in his shorts pocket, which sat too high on his waist. The way he stood made him look like a teapot and in his socks too, he looked like a scout leader with his long socks and I bet her wears sandals, I bet he wears shoes later when we go out, she thought.
‘Fine, everything’s fine.’ She smiled, felt clean beneath her clean t-shirt and she towelled her hair. ‘I spoke to work and I told them I couldn’t do anything until next week, so…’ she thought how to end her sentence, but couldn’t think what she had said to Alison.
‘…so you’re free.’ Mike smilingly finished her sentence. Well done, he might have said, you’ve done the right thing and immediately she regretted calling work, regretted being here and she dreaded what was planned for today.
Rain burst from a cloud as if a giant’s invisible hand had squeezed it, wringing out the water. It sprinkled on the ground somewhere in the distance. Some lucky spot, watered green and lush, as lush and green as the fruit in the back fridge of a green grocer’s shop.
‘It’s amazing when you see rain in the distance, isn’t it?’ Mary said, her voice slightly breathless, she was so pleased with herself for spotting it. They stood on the top of a steep sloped path.
‘Yeah.’ Mike said, but she had to repeat herself before he understood her. He didn’t look pleased, in fact he looked almost scared of the tiny cloud, the only one in the partially clear sky that was leaking. ‘I just hope the weather holds.’ he said and scanned the horizon.
They were on top of a hill between the village and the sea. The sea, it was blue and copper green and the hill patched with grass and mud, deep and as rich as chocolate. Sheep dung lay like Easter eggs between blades of grass on the slope, so steep that you could never catch your balance if you stepped onto the slope, stepped off the path. Instead you’d be forced to run, have no choice but to run down the slope and at the end of the field, where the grass changes to a sudden drop you’d fall to your death on the rocks below.
The sheep weren’t scared though, they stood on the slope, stock still and chewed at the grass, only moving one foot at a time, undeterred by their surroundings, unimpressed too, judging by the blank looks on their faces.
‘The people here can’t know how lucky they are!’ she wanted to say, wanted to tell Mike, but she didn’t because he probably already knew. It was the sort of thing he would say. Besides, it didn’t seem so perfect now, now that Mike was walking ahead, about five metres in front and he whipped at the tall grass with a stick as he walked. It had become windy and dark clouds whipped across the sky like packs of angry bikers, Hell’s Angels, black clad and noisy.
The wind sounded in her ears. She tried to imagine it was the sound of the sea, that the wind didn’t sound like this in London, that it wouldn’t sound like this anywhere else in the world, although of course it did. The wind is the wind and London is London, but in London she was almost always inside and besides, it was the smell it brought with it, salt and rocks and fish and mermaids’ dreams, which was a thought that made her laugh, feel like a little girl, imaginative and playful.
Mike couldn’t smell it. He read the sea on an A5 card, crumpled from being in his pockets. It was creamy white and had the words Tide Table printed on the front. When Mary had looked at it earlier she had wondered why the adverts on the back were printed in black and white. It had all looked so dull, so thoughtless.
‘It says here a quarter past five. We’ll need to hurry if we’re to get down to the Voss before high tide begins.’ He said with a crinkled brow and raising his voice so she could hear him above the sound of the wind and the crashing waves below them.
Mary remembered him using the word Voss yesterday. She had no idea what it meant though. He had talked about it on the way down in the car but she hadn’t listened. The sound of the wing mirror brushing against the hedgerow had annoyed her and she couldn’t concentrate on what he said, at least that’s what she told herself. It seemed a hundred years ago.
Mike kept the map in his hand, folded to the part that he needed. They corkscrewed along the narrow path that ran around the steep edge of the cliff. The path was so narrow and worn so deep into the earth it was almost impossible to walk. It would be so easy to fall over, to roll right over the edge of the cliff. She found the only way to keep her balance was to wiggle her bum as she walked, to waddle like a duck, one foot in front of the other and shaking her tail as she followed Mike, who was walking in just the same way. Mary could have laughed, she felt happy, so happy yet a little anxious too because she knew it wouldn’t last. They’d be back at the cottage soon.
Perhaps Mike knew. He looked so sad. His legs spattered with mud and his neck had turned pink like spam and a white band had formed where his binoculars had hung. It had been a long walk and the sun hadn’t been kind, instead burning through their sweat, dust sticking to their skin like glitter on a child’s painting and the shadows of the clouds, cutting across the bumpy countryside at reckless speed, at tragic accident speed, had played tricks with their eyes, either too bright or suddenly too dark.
Mary had begun to feel tired.
‘Slow down.’ She called to Mike because he was walking too fast. He didn’t slow down, but they stopped instead.
‘Look, I can’t keep up.’ she said, catching up with him. He squinted at her because she had the sun behind her, and it wrinkled his skin and he bared his teeth like he was in pain and probably it made his face ache.
‘What’s wrong?’ he asked and it sound like , ‘There better not be anything wrong? We’re not stopping.’
But she wanted to stop. Mary’s feet ached because she’ worn the wrong trainers, they didn’t support her arches. Her stomach ached because she hadn’t liked the sandwiches Mike had wrapped in tin foil and she’d only eaten one.
’Are you hungry?’ she asked and felt awkward asking, as if it were the one question she shouldn’t ask, ‘There must be a pub in this village. Maybe we could stop and get something to eat or just a pasty or a bag of crisps or something. What do you think? What’s this town called again?’
‘Noss Mayo.’ Mike replied and he said it quietly like an apology. Mary couldn’t make out what he had said, but it didn’t matter. What did it matter what this village was called? Although she should have known the name because she’d seen it written on the signs, on the map she had looked at in the morning, the one that Mike had shown her, but she had been thinking about something else or not cared or whatever, it didn’t matter.
It was an older village than Newton Ferrer, the village where they were staying, at least it seemed older. The streets were curved like a rally track, steep and cobbled like a Hovis ad. Some too narrow for cars and every house seemed to have a cat.
They sat in a pub and it started to rain. Outside the sky was grey and dull as a schoolbook and they stayed until Mike felt he was about to get drunk. ‘Let’s go back.’ He said and outside he wasn’t concerned anymore with the rain,
‘It’s a holiday!’ She cried, delighted to get her hair so wet, to feel the cold skinny fingers of the rain creeping down the back of her t-shirt. Mike smiled too and he must have felt it too. Every movement felt cool and real, every colour, dripping through the leaves of the trees, it all looked so bright and alive. It was like a movie, like being in a movie, like pictures in a photo album and then they ran, swirled, dizzy and drunk until the rain became so hard they had to shelter beneath a tree and the rain lashed at the estuary like a shower pouring onto a blocked floor pan. Even the ducks skittered for shelter, gulls and pigeons hid in trees.
Mary and Mike got wet like drowned cats and across the estuary they saw Derry cottage, old and squat, dark and wet, miserable as an old man who sits by the sea and watches and has seen it all and has lost it all and it felt like the cottage was watching them.
The cottage exhaled when they opened the door, as if it had been holding its breath for them to come home. Damp breath like water in the lungs, horrible dying cancer breath like the gust of air before a cough.
‘Come on.’ Mike said, sounding cheerful, ‘let’s get the kettle on. I could do with a cuppa and a sit down.’
Mary’s head still spun and she waltzed into a chair, collapsed backwards and it creaked beneath her weight.
‘This rain won’t last.’ He said, pouring out the tea with movements like butter, smooth and thick and slow, and as servile as a butler, as if she were his governess and it made her feel as if she had age and dignity, neither of which she wanted.
‘I can see the sky getting lighter over there.’ he said, sounding more optimistic still ‘Maybe tomorrow it’ll be fine again, but the forecast did say they’d be showers. I just wasn’t expecting a downpour like that.’ He shrugged his shoulders and went on talking and it was as if they were on a sea-saw, with him going up and her going down.
She felt the booze from earlier wearing off, felt her world become sticky and slow and her head stung a little, her eyes began to close.
Outside the estuary filled with water as the tide came in, too shy to be near land during daylight, it found confidence in the oily light of dusk. The windows of the cottage became like mirrors, reflecting her white face, featureless in the warped reflection and darkness closed in on the cottage like a black cloth over a bird’s cage. She felt so tired her eyes stung and each blink came with magnetic force, such force that it was hard to keep them from closing.
‘You look tired.’ Mike said, drinking tea and with a book open on his lap, a book so old it had a battered red cover, the pages like old dirty cream, yellow at the edges like the dried crust at the lip of the tub and she could smell it from here, it was so old.
Damp paper, how could he stand it directly beneath his nose?
‘If you’re tired, why don’t you go to bed?’ he said in a kind voice, kind like a nurse.
‘No,’ Mary replied, ‘No, no. I mustn’t sleep. It’s a waste of the evening if I sleep.’ And she rubbed her eyes, stifled a yawn. ‘What are you reading? It looks interesting.’
‘Oh, just some old book I found on one of the shelves downstairs. Junk I think, some journal, I don’t think it’s real.’ He flicked through the pages, shook his head as he spoke and then showed Mary the cover. ‘It’s some kind of pretend journal I think, something about an adventure in Africa. Some search for a gorilla. It looks real, but way too fanciful to be real. Someone must have written it as fiction, written it by hand like this to make it look real. Too badly written thought to be any good though.’
Mary went over the chair where he sat and looked at it over his shoulder. She stood with a straight back and looked like a school girl being shown something by her school master and she wanted to put her hand on his shoulder or around his neck so that she might break the spell, might feel more like his lover, but she couldn’t.
She wanted to see how old the book was, how stained the pages were, the dark red blotches, prints form dirty thumbs, brown scratches, she wondered how he could ever touch it, so dirty, so old.
He must wash his hands, she thought and said, ‘I need coffee.’ She pushed herself away from him and walking to the kettle. But it didn’t help to sober her, instead only making her feel worse, gave her a headache. So she drank more wine and so did Mike and they fell asleep before it was even half past eight.
Mary woke to the sound of Mike’s snores. He never snored and she couldn’t think any less of him for snoring in the way he was snoring now, so loud and so uncomfortably. His throat will be sore in the morning, she thought and reached across him for his watch, which lay on its side on the bedside table like a discarded robot, still working but immobile, useless. It was half past two and she felt suddenly too awake to go back to sleep, so instead she went downstairs and made coffee, using the same cup she had used in the evening.
Then she took the chair that Mike had sat in last night. Its wicker frame was lit by moonlight that shone through the window, which was the only light, and the chair creaked beneath her fresh-from-bed, naked frame. Leaning back, she sat listening to the silence.
There was no sound except the steady, gentle breathing of the wind outside. It was as if the estuary slept, snored silently as it slept. But inside the house was quiet, too quiet, as if it were being intentionally quiet in order to scare her and in her sleepy state she thought of all the people who had lived here, thought how old the house was and thought of all the voices that had been here. How many? She made a calculation in her head – two hundred, three hundred, four. It was impossible and the thought made it seem all the more silent here.
Like a stadium during a minute’s silence. Silence overbearing, silence when you know someone’s there, can hear their thoughts, hear the air tremble across their nasal hairs. It was too much and Mary stood up. The chair creaked. She walked across the room and down the three stairs to the living room.
It was dark, cold, filled with furniture that shouldn’t be there. Beige sofa, carpet, the arm of the chair felt dirty beneath her touch, rough too, the texture like dried dish-cloth and on the walls pictures. She looked at them all. Some of the house, some of people who Mary thought must have lived here, and each with eyes that seemed to stare at her. She felt the house watch her and imagined that the house felt her move inside it, move like a tapeworm, like a louse, like an injection.
The house didn’t want her here, wanted to spill her out like we spill out diarrhoea, like vomit or water from a boil.
She ran from the house, out through the back door, across the terrace and out onto the bank of the estuary. She dared not look back, but she did and the house, with its piggy eyed windows, its ugly thatched roof and squat flatness looked at her and sneered.
It was such a relief to be outside, such a relief that she didn’t care about the cold, the morning chill. She walked quickly along the path that led round the estuary. It was warm and she didn’t care that she was only wearing a dressing gown and like a mad woman who’s escaped the asylum she half ran, half walked, but as fast as she could, up the road to Noss Mayo, up the path that led onto the cliff, only realising when she was almost there and the sun was making its first red warning on the horizon, that she didn’t have shoes on her feet and they probably bled beneath the caked slabs of mud that had gathered about her toes.
It didn’t matter though. On top of the cliff she felt free. She wasn’t going back to the cottage. She couldn’t. Instead she ran along the path, one foot in front of the other, so fast that it was impossible to keep her balance, until it was impossible not to bound off the path and onto the slope and then she really felt free, free like a bird that’s found a way out of its cage.



  1. I think this starts well, but I’m nit sure about the ending. You could do more with this, ifyou don’t mind me saying.

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