Once again, the sky was at its darkest zenith. The moon had been covered, hidden behind the slate-grey clouds, and an almost-midnight reined around. That, of course, was because the night was edging ever close to the midnight hour, and the sky mirrored the time and date. Even in the midst of sunny August, where the days often boiled with light, the nights were darkened with gloom; the nights were trying their best to break away from the gleaming August daylight that stereotyped those summer hours of darkness.
Peter squinted his eyes, as though he was trying to pick out significant landmarks amongst the gloom, and lifted a hand to his eyes as he observed the never-ending sky of cloud. There was a moon somewhere, he knew, but he just couldn’t find it.
Phillip, too, watched the shadows with apprehension, not for the things that lay ahead in his path, but the actions that wound themselves ahead of his time-line. He also worried for the past, and that possible reoccurrence of the beautiful Aidelle. Those worries bit at him like piranhas in the sea of thought, but the fishing boat came out and reeled them all up, once again, and Phillip knew he had to stay stronger for the both of them. Even if Peter’s crazy scheme did work.
On the other hand, this time the men had brought a very abundant supply of torches to guide them, with which they both used to gaze at the uneven surfaces below their feet. First it was the stretch of the grassland (once again, no taxis would run at that hour), with plants jutting out hiddledee-piggledee here and there, and then it was the sudden smoothness of the cemented road, leading forwards to the wreckage of the place that would have been Phillip’s house.
“It’s curious,” Peter chattered away, ignoring the growing excitement and nervousness towards the night’s events, and hiding those feelings of deep despair, “That the grassland we just passed has been sold. I never thought I’d see a ‘for sale’ sign in its vicinity! Who’d want a scruffy plot like that?”
“I don’t know, Peter.” Phillip stumbled over a chunk of concrete. He was tired. “No doubt, as has been said, there is a reasonable explanation. Now don’t turn into Ryan.”
“I’m not!” Peter snapped, shocked, “I’m just curious, that’s all. Of course, I don’t want any profit from that scrubland. You believe me, don’t you?”
Phillip rubbed his forehead.
“Yes, I do. I’m sorry. Come on, keep going…”
They pushed on forwards, towards the standing remains of the living room.
The walls were still intact, but the furniture between them had been wrecked from being out in the natural elements. If the ruby chaise longue had been velvet and brightly coloured beforehand, all that was left were the mere bones of the seat, scraps of dull red fabric hanging off the odd ends. The wolves of the earth had also ravished the other sitting chair, leaving it slammed against half of the corner, the throw nowhere to be seen (although Phillip had a feeling that the fabric cobwebs that were glistening, and that had been spread across the concrete floor by some mysterious force, were what really remained of the patterned two-metre-square length of cloth).
Only the tree seemed unharmed by the wrath. It had, of course, been exempt from any storm, by the simple fact that it was a part of nature too. The mother never slapped her own children.
And the thin, floaty, rose garment still hung, pristine, from one of the highest branches where Phillip had placed it so tenderly. It was a flower, a message, a little piece of hope.
At first, his eyes were drawn straight to the tree again; there was something about it that he wanted to love, there was some fascinating attachment, and feeling, that kept him in its presence, as though a calming effect fell from its arms like leaves.
Eventually, Phillip turned, and that’s when he saw it.