Niamh runs to the bridge again. She slips on the road, hitting the cobbles hard. Blood flows from her hand, but she ignores it. Within moments she is on her feet, again, running. Her husband will be home in less than two hours - she must be there to meet him.
“Let me cross!” she shouts again, as she approaches the bridge. But the guard has his orders. Fearful for his life, he raises the crossbow and fires.
Niamh sees the scene as though through another's eyes. All seems to be in slow motion as the crossbow bolt spins through the air and burrows itself in her chest. But the pain is fast, and everything shoots back to normal speed. She looks down, and she can see the bolt protruding from her breasts like the sick aftermath of a tasteless joke, and the blood pours out like a waterfall.
Everything is swimming, colour to black-and-white, and back again. She cannot see: the world is fading around her, blurring.
“Fionn?” she whispers. “Mathew?” She cannot hold on; her life is slipping away. “No,” she says. “I will not let go.” But it is like trying to hold onto a chain that has been greased, and her grip on life is loosening.
“I’m sorry,” the guard tells her, as he bends over to look her in the eyes. “Do you forgive me?” She looks at him with dry, unfocused eyes.
“Yes,” she says. Niamh looks at her hands, fragile and bloodstained. When did that happen? She is finding her memories hard to recall … her mind is slipping away … “No!” she gasps, but it is too late. Even the pain is fading, now …