by Seamus Kearney
Not long after the smell of the date and walnut loaf had sulked away into the woods, the majority of the group made their awkward farewells and headed off along the mud track. Flo joined her dear friend, Tim, on the veranda, aware that the decision to put Marble Point on the market had hit him the hardest. She put an arm around him.
‘I thought we’d be coming here every year until we died,’ he whispered.
She avoided the view in front of them, the velvet valley that had seduced her and her eight university chums some 30 years earlier. ‘We’re the only ones who’ve really made use of the place.’
He folded his arms. ‘We all promised we’d never sell it.’
She pictured that summer of ’74: living in tents for two months, everyone chipping in to build their “castle”, starting the tradition of the date and walnut loaf. But that was before the weddings, the kids, the break-ups, the sickness.
He said, ‘Maybe we should’ve agreed to the access road, electricity, an indoor loo.’
‘We let them hook up the water! That was compromise enough … though we were the only ones who ever did the washing up.’
He almost smiled. ‘I’ll boil the water, and then we can take our last hike down to the waterfall.’
At that very moment Flo made a decision: yes, she would tell him about her divorce and the huge settlement, news that had been eclipsed by all the emotional exchanges.