They trailed the wide forest. Red berry, snow, earth and bark. Kingfisher silver-blue over the lake. They walked the white road through the forest, root-run and spiral of breath climbing from the branches of trees. Robert’s boots were old but sturdy, she listened to them press into the pure white earth, and they walked.

It had fallen early, come like a blanket pulled up to the neck. In the morning they’d gone out into it, carrying with them the peace of sleep found in the lining of good winter coats.

They wound the white forest, took the bank that led down to the coast. Flash of water, flash of sun. The spindling, climbing branches of the trees. The now-sleeping animals present in their prints. Their quick succession betraying tentative, trembling hearts. They filled the white with it. Passed burrow and fence post. The surprised look and movements of birds.

There are those who fall in love quickly, and those for whom time plays its part. They stood looking at the boats in the harbor, boards creaking on the floating pier, tethered with a rope of mute white. When she was a girl her father would take them out to the islands. He rarely spoke, but in the smooth stone of the skerries lay the communion of something. The gentle rising and falling of the boat.

Words, like the weather, arrive without warning.

“I’m sorry.” she said, “But I have to.”

Robert looked at her. The charge of running in his eyes. In Pamplona they had run with the bulls and she’d been surprised at him not being scared. The boats creaked in their stations. One man had been gored that year. Though she’d only heard about it the following day on the coach out of town, she’d felt responsible for it somehow, as she did now, merely for being there.

“Alright.” he said, as in the distance, the white waves silently shaped the skerries’ edge.

Brett Darling is a writer from London. He is a graduate of the MA in creative writing programme at London Metropolitan University. His ekphrastic writing is forthcoming on the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) blog. This is his first published work of fiction.

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