You’d only normally attempt the Hinkler Track  in summer. My late mother, an exceptional young woman, did the whole thing in her twenties. Her stories meant the Hinkler was an experience I was determined to have.

It’s nearly winter. Early snowfalls have turned the trail to mush, which suits my mood. After walking for hours I become aware of someone beside me. I don’t notice her arrive. But when I look, she’s there, as if her presence is as natural as the wind.

‘Nice day for it,’ she says sardonically.

‘Beautiful.’ I breathe warmth into my palms. Ominous clouds circle.

‘You’ll never reach the bluff.’

‘Probably not.’ I say

‘Besides, it’s dangerous. If you fall… But you know that.’

I grimace.

‘That thing between Adriana and you,’ she says. ‘It wasn’t your fault.’

The memory is bitter. Her knowledge of it impossible.  ‘Do I know you?’

She doesn’t meet my querying eyes. ‘Weather’s closing in. You should head for Hanrahan’s Hut.’

‘Hanrahan’s,’ I say. ‘My mother sat out a storm there long ago.’

When I turn to see her reaction she’s gone.

Next morning I find my mother’s name on the hut’s chimney. It looks as if it could have been scratched yesterday.  Dawn, after a wild night, is fine. But I do not try for the bluff.

 

2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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