Long drive home. Roads blur into hours. I pull over twice for coffee, but I’m just bored. Roads blur into hours. I said that already.
A name comes sharply into focus on an approaching road sign. That was home, long ago. My indicator is flashing now. I must have done that.
Each overlapping arm of green that reaches into the road and tenderly brushes the window seems to wave. Hello again, old friend. Did you lose your way?
Right turn. Left, there. The cottage looks over the graveyard. Welcome home, it seems to say. It looks the same, save for a strange car parked in the driveway. I can hear my dog barking. I wonder if they know he is buried under the patio.
Adjacent lies the graveyard. I still recognise the names on the nearest gravestones. New names may be laid to rest, but the old ones never leave. The unknown frightens me, but the graveyard never did.
Follow the crude path into the trees. The river rushes and rants. Nestled in the centre, like an abandoned world, is Pinball Rock. I wade across and try to climb it like I used to, but the mossy peach skin prevents my grip now. I stay until the darkness colours the leaves.
The gates creak closed behind me, and over the rusted frame grows twisted, distorted underwood. It somehow looks more beautiful than it did before, and I wonder if I will ever see it again. Long drive home.
Samuel Skuse is a short story writer, poet and playwright. He splits his time between Oxford and deepest darkest Devon, the latter being a regular feature in and significant influence on his storytelling.