• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 01
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The Canal

I picked up the brown leather gloves from the drawer and held them to my cheek. Against my skin they reminded me of her touch, her stroke, as she ran cool fingers down my cheek.
        The faint smell of wood, amber, tuberose and something that eluded me gently scented them. Well worn, they showed the curves and bends in her hands, the cream contrast of the stitching like roads running across them; they refused to lie flat when I put them down on the dressing table, a last defiance.

‘Come on, let’s go for a walk down by the canal,’ she said, taking my bare hand in her gloved one.
        It was bright, chilly and with a gentle bluster to the wind and we wandered down to the marina, pausing to admire the narrow boats tied to the bollards along the bank. We’d talked so often of buying a boat, sailing away to lands unknown or meandering through the hundreds of miles of the canal system; but, as always, just pipe dreams.
        Turning left we strolled without purpose along the well-trodden towpath, the occasional “morning” to fellow walkers breaking the silence, the warmth of her leather-gloved hand in mine. We didn’t need words, a companionable silence followed us for a couple of miles.
        The pub at Big Lock beckoned and we decided to stop for lunch. She wanted a comfort break and I was hungry after missing breakfast.
        ‘I won’t be a minute,’ she said taking off her gloves and leaving them on the table.
        ‘Glass of red?’ I said. She nodded as she walked away.

The gloves lay on the dresser. If I slipped my hand under one, it would be like holding hers again. But it wasn’t, they crumpled under the delicate pressure, sagging like me.