I woke up ill, with whisky-breath and half of a head. Arms stretched out into the scattered shapes of sun which had managed to squeeze between the blinds. Rose always complained about the light in the mornings. My fingers went searching for skin – a breast, a handful of ass or a piece of inner thigh. There was empty space next to me. I sat up half-asleep with hair meshed into an insane shape and waited for a moment before standing. A dressing gown, a pair of glasses and unsteady footwork. I was still drunk.
I found Rose naked, sat on the decking. Her eyes looked out over the flames above the town.
The sun was still rising. Its light had discoloured the undersides of the clouds above it. Rose moved with the light and her face split into a pretty smile for me, then she turned back towards the horizon and her smile faded. It was a flash of fleeting happiness, as if seeing me had momentarily given her the chance to gasp for air before submerging and then continuing to drown. Gingerly, I sat next to her. The sunlight cut golden shapes from Rose’s profile and made her shine. My arm stretched out and dragged her into me. Her head sunk into my chest. Her tears made my chest wet. My hands combed her hair softly.

“Rose, you realise we need to leave here and can never return?” I spoke to the colours of autumn in her hair. She nodded. Her head rose out from my chest and she looked at me. Last night’s mascara made patterns below her eyes. Our faces moved. Her lips were electric. Whisky-kissing with teeth and last night’s breath. Softly, gently our faces separated. Her eyes, like molten glass, burned. She was strong. Stronger than any person I had ever know. She was strong enough to leave her old life behind, to kill it with fire and run away kicking the flames from her heels. We could not restore what we had done. Last night birthed the darkness in us both. She embraced me tight before pushing herself to her feet and extending a hand.

“We need to go now, Toby,” Rose said, her smile flashed once again, “I’ll pack our clothes and the money; you make the body fit in the car somehow.”


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