Wednesday, 7 March 2012


When you are young, death is a big deal. You hear of someone dying and it sends a strange tremor through the head and heart. ‘He’s dead’, you say, trying to digest the news that goes down like a piece of rubbery steak. When the messenger leaves you alone the idea of someone being gone makes the blood pump in your ears as if you’ve just received a blow to the head.

In middle age the effect is much the same. Although death becomes more common-place, it doesn’t get any easier to deal with.
Such was his thinking as Dave parked his car in a gravelled lay-by with its panoramic view of the forest. The engine rumbled on for a few seconds after he’d turned the ignition off. The valley narrowed into the distance and black and white cows were dotted here and there as if strategically placed to enhance the view with a considered composition.

Other people were gathered in the lay-by. They were standing in a circle as if viewing some kind of event like kids in a schoolyard crowding around a fight. An old woman in a purple headscarf had a mobile-phone clamped to her ear and was relaying the scene to the outside world. Dave got out of his car wondering what all the fuss was about. He kept his distance but was close enough to make out two ginger kittens being fed canned tuna from a plastic spoon. They were smaller than the hand that was feeding them.
He walked on into the mouth of the valley, heading for a stripe of trees that lined the horizon.

The wind sounded louder in his ears as went further down.

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