I take out the brooch I had made for him. The snake seems ominous to me now. It slithers into my mind, bites and poisons it. For I have not seen him in months. He has not followed me, only my instructions that he should not.
His wife came to me in the summer, when the sky was china blue and the garden laden with roses. She came trailing her legally consecrated children. And I gave in, not to her insistence, but to the sight of them.
I moved back to the fields of High Barnet that I once knew. They are far enough away from the squares of Belgravia for him to forget. There is nothing to distract my thoughts here, only the silence and the sky and the bare, black trees.
Again I have not slept. The bright red sunrise mirrors the streaks on my handkerchief. I shiver and burn. The fire went out hours ago and I am too tired and weak to see to it.
My eyes cloud. A shadow hovers. I am sure that he has come. He has found me. I knew he would. I set the table, cups, matching plates. I have the brooch. I am well, I run, I cough, I slump and fall. The pin sticks into the palm of my hand.
A parcel. He unties the ribbons, opens out the paper. Inside a perfect knot of hair, brown flecked with gold. An envelope, heavy cream parchment, black edged.
‘This brooch was bequeathed to you by….’
He falters. It cannot be her name. He picks up the brooch, a rust of blood on the pin. His knees, his head, everything crumples and swirls. He pricks his finger.
He cries out and then he sees his wife at the door, smiling.