My hands grip the gate, the cold frame slides open like a mortuary drawer. I slip through, exhaling. It snaps back into place like the sharp recoil of a gun.
A path lies before me, a stretch of pebbled stones giving way to sodden grass and soil. Branches of tall trees hang heavy, trailing like the tresses of a lover’s hair. A grey mist meanders, its cold, clammy fingers caressing me until my clothes cling like a second skin.
Mud squelches around my feet, sealing my presence. Sharp thorns and sneering faces taunt me from the dark recesses of the forest. But there is no other path, so I push my hands deep into my pockets, taking comfort in the smooth metal my fingers encounter.
My feet drag and my limbs ache as the path inclines. Sweat trickles down my face. I glance back, my body tingling as the track appears to close behind me. Yet I cannot falter, it’s the day I’ve waited for. The day of reckoning. I shiver and the silence hums like a mother’s whisper, cajoling me onwards.
I see him waiting on the crest of the hill, a shadow in the twilight. I clench my fist; feel the imprint on my hand.
He stretches out his hand towards me. I draw out mine.
We are face to face for the first time.
And, as a soft light rises, I place the rosary in his scarred palm.