It’s mid-afternoon. Jane parks her car in the car park beneath the tall monument. She hasn’t driven far, maybe a couple of miles away from her flat. She can scarcely open the car door, so strong is the wind. She walks past the monument which was built to celebrate a famous naval victory hundreds of years ago. Seagulls wheel around the head of the admiral whose statue sits atop the fluted column. She has another quarter of a mile to walk before she reaches the pierhead. She walks with difficulty into the wind, past the giant crane, now redundant, that stands on rusted rails. It used to trundle back and forth along the pier, carrying stones to build the lighthouse, but now it is silent, morose, its working days over. It is like Jane - uncertain, brooding.
The wind plays havoc with Jane’s long, raven-black hair. She seems not to notice - she is dressed for the weather. She reaches the pierhead, delves into the pocket of her raincoat and pulls out a piece of paper. There is handwriting on the paper. She is careful not to allow the rain to blur the writing. There is enough daylight left for her to read the note again. When she has finished reading it, she crumples it in her right hand.
Geoff catches a train. He alights at the nearest station to the rendezvous. The weather has declined since the morning when he went to work. Everything was normal that morning. Nothing is normal now. A gale-force wind has whipped up from nowhere and the platform is awash with heavy rain. He leaves the station and heads towards the town centre. His anxiety is palpable. His hands shake. His footsteps falter. Perhaps he should go back? Would it not be easier that way? Pretend that nothing has happened? Try to restore the status quo?
Taking a deep breath, Geoff forges on. He turns right where the ruins of an ancient priory sit on the top of a crumbling cliff and walks down a steep hill. Ahead of him lies the pier. The rain spears into his eyes and makes it difficult for him to see. He is about seventy yards away when he spots her. His heart tumbles into the soles of his shoes.
Jane turns her head and looks landward. She stiffens; her body grows taut. She sees Geoff lumbering towards her. His shoulders are bent as he struggles against the wind, which has spun her hair like candyfloss. Darkness will fall soon, and she has no wish to remain much longer on the windswept pier, but she remembers her promise and turns her face to the sea, gripping the handrail until her knuckles are white.
Geoff’s overcoat bursts loose, and flaps like a sail around his knees. He attempts to gather it with his free hand, but the wind is too strong. They are by now just thirty yards apart.
Now the two of them are very near to each other. The sound of his footsteps is blown away; she does not hear his final approach. He is a tall man, quite handsome in a careworn way. Under the brim of his hat, he looks a little distracted, a little vague.
In the distance, a ferry sounds its horn, a mournful refrain on such a sombre day. The wind carries the noise across the bay and into Jane’s ears. A fresh eddy of wind lifts Geoff’s hat, revealing a head of vigorous grey hair. He hastily clamps his hat back onto his head. He would have done anything to avoid this. He sees that she has a piece of paper in her hand. It is the note he left for her at lunchtime at the reception area of her employer. Jane left a message on his mobile phone. She says that she will meet him. Now she turns to look at him.
Her gaze is steady but unforgiving. She speaks, her words tossed by the
wind into the atmosphere, yet he hears her as if she has been shouting at him through a megaphone. Her words are clear, spoken harshly, scoldingly:
‘Your wife’s found out, then?’