Journeys end in lovers meeting

by Jenny

Looking out at the rain from inside Emily shivered and turned back to the warmth of her open fire. It crackled rosily and she held her hands out to feel the warmth running along her fingers. It was a filthy night, but here in the glow of the fire, with the smell of buttered toast and her feet wrapped cosily in her woolly socks Emily felt contented.

The train rumbled past her window; the glass seemed to shake as the it chuntered relentlessly on and Emily closed the curtain to wrap herself back into their snug little room. It was as if the outside didn’t exist. On the plate her toast dribbled its butter lasciviously into opulent puddles and she took a big bite.

“It’s horrible out there. Good job we’re tucked up safe in here,” she said with her mouth full, looking over at him. She was glad he was there, settled familiarly in his chair as usual, glad that he’d stayed after all.

Mike and Emily had had their problems. For a little while she’d thought that they might not make it. She had worked so hard to scrape together this tiny little paradise for the two of them. It wasn’t much - a small house in the rough part of town and right on the railway tracks, so sleep wasn’t always easy. The noise of it could be enough to drown out a scream, let alone quiet conversation, Emily had thought once, but at least it covered up Mike’s snoring! Living together had taken some adjustments and some sacrifices. But, she thought, at least they had each other.

When Mike had told her that he wanted to leave Emily hadn’t been able to take it in. She’d felt stunned that everything she’d built could so easily come crashing down - Mike was the other supporting pillar that held up their little world and she couldn’t let him go, she’d have to fight for them.

In the end he’d stuck around. It had been hard and there was a long way to go, she had realised; it was never going to be like it was. But Mike was here to stay, Emily knew. It was just a question of adapting.

“You’re not in work tomorrow are you?” she asked, still chewing her way through her toast. “I have to go in at nine again - we have that new girl starting, but don’t worry, I’ll be home normal time. What will you want for tea? Oh, you haven’t touched your toast!” She pushed the congealing mass towards him.

Mike did not take the toast. His silence echoed around the room, like the ghost of their relationship. His sightless eyes screamed blankly into the too-warm little room, his icy fingers frozen into rigid claws on the arms of his chair. Emily chattered happily on, though it had been weeks since Mike had been able to answer, or even hear anything she said. Another train rumbled past, loud enough to drown out a scream.