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.’
‘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)