“And that’s when I became obsessed with foxes,” I finished triumphantly. She snuffled, her head like a keen knife, her nose almost pressed against her chest, so tight was the little ball she was curled in; a kitten on my bed.
“What about foxes?” she replied with a little grin, not quite mischievous, not quite apologetic, just mysterious. I wondered whether she really wanted to know. I mean she’d been asleep for the past twenty minutes. The tea by her side was cold and a layer of foamy, white scum had formed on the top from the hard water. She’d come all the way out here though, to where I’d always dreamt I’d live. Above the sea that ran through the day and gurgled through the night, except when the radio warned of gales in Lundy, Fastnet or Irish Sea. On nights like that the sea was beyond easy, anthropomorphic comparisons.
I didn’t have a telly out in that cottage, but the radio had kept me company until she’d arrived, eager to hear my stories. She yawned, which made her mouth sneer like a pixie Elvis impersonator. She didn’t really want to know, and I didn’t want to tell the whole boring story, with it’s talks about Thomas Bewick at provincial literature festivals, bad bands, my father reading me Ted Hughes and strange encounters with mangy, flea ridden beasts in London backstreets.
“Foxes just leapt from the page and into my heart,” I told her. She smiled contentedly and turned over. I began to roll a cigarette and wondered whether the smoke would form pictures tonight or whether anything or anyone could really bridge the gap between words and love.