The sea is alight (part three)

Louise parked the van and opened the side gate into the garden. She had the key. The house had been aired; there was a fire burning in the living room, which her neighbour had lit for Louise, but there was still a musty smell. Louise shivered. The damp smell had always been in the houseand no amount of air or heat would ever get rid of it fully.

The nettles had come back into the garden, despite the weedkiller which had been put down in the spring.

Lousie carried the boxes in from the car. She then set up the record player and placed two speakers at opposite ends of the room. She plugged it in, put on a record and turned the sound up and listened to the music as she unpacked the car.

The house was close to the edge of the cliff, which was eaten away each year. She listened for the sound of the sea during each journey to the car, but heard nothing but the sound of a tractor in the distance, and coming from the house the swells of the music.

Old May arrived on her tractor. There was always something childlike and sweet about her, even though she neared 70 years. She had come through unscathed, into old age. She was happy not to have anyone to look after, even though she missed them, especially her brother Tom, who had been the first one they found, a bullet had entered the back of his head from close range. 

May was usnteady on her feet. A bottle of whiskey was in a bag she carried.

‘You know yourself how much whiskey you want,’ she said. ‘There’s no point in me pouring it for you.’

‘Will you have one yourself?’ Louise asked.

‘Maybe I will,’ May said and laughed. ‘You know I normally don’t.’

‘Let me see if I’ve any news for you now,’ May said. ‘you couldn’t come all this way without some news.’