Cool air slaps my cheeks, and I feel them burning beneath my scarf. Merlin, my guide dog, slows his pace. It makes me go slower too. There is probably ice under the gravel.
It feels ice-cold, my gloves are doing nothing to keep my fingers from aching. This is the first time I have been to Black Park. There is no birdsong carrying me forward today. Trees have long since lost their leaves. The wind is silent. Today it is jus me, Merlin, and my thoughts for company.
Merlin stops, my feet crack the ice beneath my boots.
How long have I been walking, just to get out of the house. His memory is in every corner. I open the wardrobe and his jumper still hangs there. I should put it in the charity pile, but it is familiar piece of him.
Richard is right, perhaps a move to St Ives would be the best way to help. If we do get some new evidence, there is a chance the police will re-open the case. Soft flurries of snow drop on my cheek. Solid, it melts. I lift my face towards the sky, allowing them to fall. It is real, something tangible to keep me going.
It is then I sense something behind me. A smell I recognise, but I don’t know from where. Whoever it is has stopped beside me, and I will for them to speak.
‘Is anyone there?’ I ask.
Silence, but Merlin isn’t barking. He obviously knows who this person is, doesn’t regard them as a threat. I bite my bottom lip . ‘Look, I know someone is there.’
‘Sorry,’ she says. ‘I’m so sorry, I can’t stay . . .’