A leaden sky and relentless rain; Belgium in February could not have looked more bleak. Frankie, slumped in her chilly carriage, stared out across the railway tracks and resolved in her heart that, if she moved on, it would be to a warmer climate. Her chilblains throbbed and her muscles ached; her throat felt decidedly scratchy. Normally she would have used the truck but, at least till they fixed the fan belt, she was going to have to do without it on these monthly expeditions.
The train was halted outside the station, awaiting a signal change. If it didn’t move soon, she might well perish with cold. With a grinding lurch it shuddered into life as another one, with mud-splashed sides, moved sluggishly past on the opposite track, the cause of the delay. Frankie mechanically zipped up her jacket and wound her scarf tightly round her throat as she watched the empty carriages racketing by. The sooner they got into Antwerp, the better. By now her teeth were rattling in her head so she thought she might treat herself to a cup of tea. She could do with a little time to herself, away from the others, for quiet reflection. She had recently heard that her mother had died and, although they had been estranged for years, unwelcome memories had come flooding back that she’d tried all these years to suppress.
Which was when she saw it, the face in the window, moving slowly past, just feet away;an image etched into her brain for the past thirty years. The unmistakable face of her lover: the vivid blue eyes and black curly hair that haunted her nightmares as well as her waking thoughts. The face of a man she had loved and lost, which had irrevocably blighted her life.
The face of a man she knew to be dead for she had killed him herself.