The Answer

The road across the moor was spectacular, but not one where you’d want to break down or have a puncture. Something about the wildness of it, the brackish water of the marsh on either side, and the trees shrouded in mist. Nice to admire from the warm interior of the car, and Colin was glad that his Volvo, though getting on, could be relied upon to see him safely across.

“Looking for an answer, they say.” The landlord’s words came back to him. The tale of the missing travellers – amusing enough in the bar of the Brigands Inn where he’d slept, not very well, the night before. Out here, the story felt different.

“Answer to what?” Colin asked.

The landlord scraped the froth from the top of his pint. “It was a long time ago. Seventeen something.” He raised his glass. “To your good health, Sir.”

Colin switched on the radio. Any Questions. “Does the panel think that it’s time for Queen Elizabeth to abdicate?” He smiled. Ah, the comforting questions of the present! And of course, everyone had an answer.

In the distance, by the side of the road, was a car. As he drew closer, he saw the bonnet was open. He slowed. A man stepped out onto the road, waving him down. Colin turned the radio down. “Having trouble?”

“Something electrical.” The man came closer. “Any chance of a lift to the nearest garage?”

“Haven’t you phoned?”

“Out of battery. Typical.” He was young, well dressed, with a northern accent, Lancashire perhaps, he’d learned to keep in check.

“Hop in.” Solidarity. Must be a salesman too. “Not the best of places to break down. Lucky I came along.”

“Very lucky.” The man turned slowly towards Colin. “I’m sure you can tell me the answer.”


A little story in response to Izzy’s May I: The Write post about open endings. Sometimes it really helps to know the answer.

Pic’n’Post: From Snow to Snow

Aberystweth

‘We did have a lovely time, didn’t we?’ Dorothy patted his hand, a faraway smile gracing her lips. ‘That man who took the photo of us on the beach, I do hope he sends it to us.’

Frank didn’t know what man she meant, nor what beach for that matter. How many beaches had they been to since they met? You lose count of things like that. ‘I’m sure he will,’ he said.

‘Could you fetch me a glass of water, dear? And my book? I left it on the kitchen table. From Snow to Snow.’

She was right. Both the title and where she’d left it. Frank was always pleased when she got things right. She was reading everything Frost had written, savouring the resonance of the words. ‘Here you are.’

He’d startled her – she jumped. ‘What do you want with me?’ Her eyes, lit from within, blazed with malice and dread. ‘Don’t come near! Get out!’

He wondered whether to give her the book in any case. It was a hardback with an olive-green cover. The cover had a pleasant feel, firm and grainy. He stood there, running his finger across it, a circular movement, several times, before taking it back to the kitchen.


Though I posted my own picture (Aberystweth beach), the story was actually inspired by this one on Theo’s photography blog (look around – it has lots of other of amazing pictures too). Although the picture is beautiful, the bleakness of that snowy road stretching into the distance made me think of the landscapes of the mind all too often inhabited in old age.

Pic’n’Post: blogging event open to all, any time. All that’s required is a picture and a text (not necessarily fiction). Round ups every fortnight. See the new, flexible  rules here. Have fun!