In the warmth of his rooms, Andrea’s skin was smooth and unlined. Serious, she studied his portable television, the rows of books.
Outside, sleet raked the grey sea.
Gudrun had given him culture, history, calm. Her death brought shrill noise, frantic movement.
He’d thought he could save a part of her through solitude here, but there was nothing but weather and sadness.
Darkness and cold turned life in on itself, the village nothing but clapboard houses clinging to moorland, facing away from North Sea winds, windows rattling in their frames.
He’d found Andrea drinking vodka on the wet, beige sand. Off the coast, the desolate island, the castle, the causeway that made Northumberland seem exotic and European.
“Polanski filmed ‘Cul-de-Sac’ near here,” he said.
“What’s that?” she asked, laughing at him, an American curiosity, as they walked.
Gudrun would have understood.
Now, face studious, she stroked his bristled cheek.
“Doesn’t it hurt to shave?” she asked, used to boys.
Brow knitted in concentration, she began to undress, dropping clothes suddenly tiny and childish.
Christian thought of Dickie the gangster, face lined, cornered and out of place, his broken Morris Minor trapped on the causeway and slowly submerged by the tide.