The cloud on the summit of Helvellyn is the duvet, billowing over her face. She tugs on it and is back in bed. He is talking to her, talking at her, filling the room with something that sounds like joy.
‘I’ve discovered the secret. We’re going to live forever. We can drive to the Lakes without any petrol.’
She’s never, in all their years together, known him so cheerful. Though the saving on petrol is characteristic.
‘It’s four in the morning, Jack,’ she says.
‘I know,’ he responds, and laughs.
He is on his feet, at the window, throwing. Out go the alarm clock, the pillows, his elegant silk ties, his cherished camera.
The duvet follows and she’s left shivering, as if she really was on top of Helvellyn. She wonders what she’s done to deserve this.
So many years under his cloud. His silences, his rebuffs, his overdoses. Her comforting words, her reassurances, her life put on hold.
‘You’re mad,’ she says. It’s true. His mind has turned to somewhere else.
‘Only nor’ nor’ west,’ he says. He still knows his Hamlet, at least.
He’s out of the room now, out of the house, light-hearted, light-footed, as if he was five not eighty-five, into the glow of dawn. Madness it may be, but she joins him.
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