Eight Ten PM
The western side of a large Victorian house, partitioned and converted into a three star self-catering holiday let, accessible through a flimsy wooden side-gate, a path leading on to a trim, lawned garden.
The clock on the wall in the one room kitchen-diner is stuck at 7:40. The single, double-A battery has almost expired and lacks the strength to lift the leaden minute hand.
Miriam sits cross-legged on the sofa, her back towards a tall, bay window, the grey room’s only redeeming feature. The light is fading but nevertheless she’s reading a book.
On her lap, on a cushion, is the family cat. Wisely, she waited until our children were asleep before she ventured in, approaching the house from the garden border, her eyes wide like a warrior’s.
We sit in silence, we three convivial holiday makers. No speaking, wordlessly reflecting on the day.
Above this scene, perhaps five thousand feet overhead, two hunters - two fighters, silhouettes flying almost abreast, heading to the East. Their sound is long and unvarying, blanketing the darkening sky with a rough shadow of noise. In the cockpits the pilots faces are lit by the green and orange glow of flight instruments. Far below them, if they care to look, they will see street lamps flicker and ignite like small fires in the towns and villages of West Norfolk.
The falling night chases the jets away to sea. A few moments later our grey room is completely still, completely quiet again. Except, of course, for the turning of pages, the cat’s contented sighs and the laboured ticking of the clock.