I tramped the cool morning with Trooper at my heels, sucking in lung fulls of the salty sea air as I strode and gazed out across the moor from the raised gravel path which dissected the watery expanse. As we approached the halfway point on our return and the lonely cow gate which stood there I could hear the cattle bellowing. They awaited Tom and their morning amble to the dairy. Where was Tom? He was getting later and later it seemed. He’d been in The Three Feathers last night till late, bemoaning the price of milk and the pittance he would make. ‘It’s almost not worth milking the damn things’ he’d muttered as he pulled up his collar and shuffled into the wet night. Farming it seemed was not what it was. I whistled for Trooper to heel and determined to rouse Tom from his slumber. We crunched along the gravel track, avoiding the puddles which had formed after the rain and approached the grand red brick house with it’s views out to sea. Tom’s father had extended it for his mother just after they wed and before that Tom’s Grandfather had lived in the house during the war as he helped feed the nation.
To the left of the house was the ancient oak tree which had borne witness as long as I could remember. Tom had courted Alice under that tree and now only a white marble headstone marked her passing under its shade.
It was as I pushed open the gate and looked up at the house that I noticed Tom’s boots hanging from the tree and with open-mouthed horror realised Tom was still wearing them. His grim face from the night before flashed before me and I wished with all my heart I had bought him one more drink and sat a while longer to share his woes.
It seemed there would be no more rousing Tom on this or any other morning.
[A Sense of Place ICE Cambrdige - task: to write about a place you knew but with a fictitious narrative.]