He reaches the brow of a hill with a mood like his feet: cold and sore. The fume-filled streets, with their heat and closeness seem dreamlike. For a moment, there are cycles navigating roads like shoals of fish, and smells of barbecue and sweet basil infuse the air. His senses are alive, the city shoving itself through the pores of his skin. A plaintive whistle from the moorland breaks the moment. He feels its stinging slap, like before, carrying sea salt and sand from the coast.
The cottage comes into view, it hunkers down behind slopes of heather, and sheep in tangled coats of dripping dirt move as if all hope is lost. From the chimney, a tendril of smoke half heartedly seeks escape. He thinks of his parents moving about within, behind those dark stones, stained from years of damp; this place where light barely illuminates, and warmth is a vague memory. His breath quickens, cheeks burning from the whipping wind and it’s whispering now, a warning.
It will be better this time, he’s not the same.